[ExI] Arabs don't read

spike spike66 at att.net
Fri Jul 18 18:23:38 UTC 2014



>… On Behalf Of John Clark
Subject: Re: [ExI] Arabs don't read


On Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 10:25 AM, justin corwin <outlawpoet at gmail.com> wrote:


>> … While numbers of books in Modern Standard Arabic is quite low, some complicating factors are low literacy in Arabic due to school policies that privilege fluency in "foreign" languages, 


>…There may be a number of reasons for it but it doesn't change the fact that if you're interested in the pursuit of knowledge there has been no reason to bother to learn Arabic for centuries unless your area of interest is Arab culture itself. …  John K Clark


Arthur C. Clarke and others wrote about leapfrog technologies.  His example was the many failed attempts to install phone systems in Africa.  The locals would steal the wires for the copper.  Eventually a radio-based alternative came along, allowing them to leapfrog the unworkable solution which required copper wire and the related infrastructure.


English is tied to perhaps the greatest leapfrog technology ever, the internet.  If the less literate parts of the world were to try to catch up, they would need all the costly infrastructure of libraries, books, schools, all the rest of it.  But now all the free stuff shows up, and it isn’t costly: get the students internet connections and powerbooks.  That leapfrogs most of the costly infrastructure needs.  


Khan Academy is a perfect example of a wonderful learning opportunity, and all of it is free.  If the less literate parts of the world just standardize on Khan Academy and plenty of the other educational free stuff on the web, the blast right up from the rear into contention with the rest of the world, but they have some advantages: they are less distracted than their overfed overindulged advanced-world counterparts.  They take education seriously because they know hunger and poverty, and realize it is their ticket to a better life.


Most of the content on the internet is in English.  I don’t know the numbers but my guess is there is more English content there than every other language combined.  Anyone know?  This leads to understanding of why companies prefer to hire someone from Latvia or Estonia to a similarly qualified American: the Eastern Europeans have better English skills, having learned from Sal Khan rather than on the playground.


English became the de facto world language because of the timely appearance of the internet, which tied it to perhaps the most critically important leapfrog technology of our times.



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