Free Knowledge Movement


Recent Updates


{Last updated on 28th May 2010}


1. This is an article on the free knowledge movement which the TIFR magazine "Imagine" did not publish and did not even inform me when they decided not to publish. That article is here.
2. I recent wrote this article on my blog about a recent effort of mine in the pursuit of a free knowledge society.
3. My mother (Dr.Suranjana) recently donated 100$ to Wikipedia and this is the acknowledgement letter from Wikimedia Foundation



For a quick technical view into the issue discussed here the reader is requested to read the reference here
For a quick look at my personal background context look here

At this moment it is not very precisely clear to me as to what lies and what doesn't lie within the realms of the concept of "free knowledge" and the precision with which I can explain the idea of "free knowledge" is what is contained in the article linked above. This is an attempt towards a world where the human race collectively inherits the findings of its pursuits without any hierarchy. But this is an attempt led by intuitions about future trends and an intrinsic sense of purpose.

Some of my technial writings in Mathematics and Physics on my homepage will hopefully contribute some small steps towards this grand vision of free knowledge, towards a world where knowledge is accessible to everyone irrespective of their economic or socio-cultural background. I encourage you all to type your understanding on any subject of interest and put them up on the internet to make that piece of learning accessible to everybody.Hope is that eventually we shall be able to precisely chart out the future and the realms of the movement of free knowledge.

Some links to high quality knowledge resources which are freely accessible to everybody


1.The state-of-the-art monographs in physics and mathematics published by Clay Mathematics Institue
2.The archive of writings and videos of lectures in advanced mathematics by MSRI
4.A gold mine for topology by Allen Hatcher from Cornell University
5.The gigantic resource for expository writings in advanced mathematics by Milne from UMichigan
6.Another extensive source of expository writings in advanced mathematics by J.P.May from UChicago
7.A treasure house of writings in economics by Economics Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman from PrincetonU

8.An archive of videos of some courses from some of universities in the US
9.An unique initiative by MIT to put knowledge online
10.The classic initiative of MIT called OCW

11.Mathematics writings and Wikis written by Vipul
   Especially this extensive Group Theory resource written by Vipul
12.  Videos of lectures on String Theory by Shiraz Minwalla
13.Videos of lectures on Supersymmetry by Sunil Mukhi
14.Videos of lectures on General Relativity by Sunil Mukhi

15.  Fields' medalist Terence Tao's mathematics blog
16.  The "Poly Math" project started by Tao, Gowers, Nielson and others
17.  The "Poly Math" blog.

18."Arxiv" by Cornell University
19."Spires" by Stanford University
20. Wikibooks
   Especially the one on LaTeX and the one on C++
21. Scholarpedia
22. MathOverflow
23. A collection of expository articles in algebraic geometry called "The Stacks Project"
24.Two classic references for algebraic geometry, SGA and EGA
25.A collection of very high quality freely available books and notes in advanced mathematics, MathOnline




The Context


At various times in the past I have used photocopied books or scanned versions of books downloaded by others from the internet. The reasons have been different at different times. Sometimes purely due to unaffordability, sometimes because I need to just have a look at it before deciding to buy and many times just because I urgently needed some portion of it for a short period of time and sometimes simply because the book was some old rare copy in the library which surely would be impossibly hard to get once I end my affiliation with that library. It is sad that at times even instructors in courses implictly or explicitly encourage downloading scanned versions of books from the internet and the term "ebook" is used for it which is very much a misnomer for it. And almost always students indulge in this practice without any sense of guilt. I am aware that a large section of the Indian students are simply financially incapable of buying any of the books that they would want/need to read and hence photocopying and downloading scanned books looks as the obvious solution to them. I have often benifited from such malpractices and have felt the pangs of guilt and hence this effort.

This is an attempt towards a better world.
A world is envisioned where knowledge is free and open to all.

This quagmire of ethics and economics gives birth to the idea of making knowledge free and accessible to everybody. A world where the next generations to come will not have to resort to such unscrupulous methods to quench its thirst for knowledge. The issue of making knowledge free and the idea of open source is a complex issue and much has been thought and written on this difficult subject and I am not an expert on this. A naive look at the Linux revolution and efforts like Wiki definitely looks encouraging though they are not free of pitfals some obvious and some very subtle. Knowledge has to be freed from the shackles of economic constraints but this needs a lot of careful thinking like the following.

Reference

You can read some a technical survey of this issue from this article published by CERI

I request the reader to kindly send me more such research level articles and surveys on the issue of freeing knowledge and I shall try to put them up here.