E16: What if textbooks were actually fun?

cool so charlie we're just hitting record in our private conversations now perfect yeah like it's
you know that's this is the nature of our friendship we have to be recording this for
posterity or blackmail or whatever it is do you think it's like a 50 50 chance that we hit uh
delete at the end of this i i if we do that means it was a good combo okay cool we'll get to catch
up yeah yeah it's been it's been a couple weeks been kind of busy over here i was just wrist deep
clearing some gutters so i took a shower um i showered for you oh appreciate that yeah um you
want to chat about the book publishing stuff that we were yeah yeah i mean i've been i've been
extolling the virtues of flutz press to you for what feels like many years now and i feel like
you're starting to you're starting to get it a little bit what's uh yeah give me give us all
the pitch again why
is the cuts press the uh the pinnacle of publishing let's press it's a typically spiral
bound book i guess they cheaped out on this version but it's a book for kids that teaches
you something cool and typically comes with whatever you need to do it so there's a book on
making friendship bracelets a book on tying knots and the knots book comes with two ropes
there was a tabletop football one and these were things that you would typically get or
you know if you were lucky you might get as a gift from maybe a grandparent or
some holiday or your birthday and it would just be this doorway into learning something new and
the best part was that it was written for you the writing is hilarious um there's all kinds of
silliness and jokes and it was never like talking down to you it just felt like you were whoever was
writing it was sort of in the muck with you and it was it made you feel like it's great to be a kid
and as a kid i get to do all this random weird stuff and maybe i'll get good at this so i've
always loved it uh and it became a thing for me and i've always loved it and i've always loved it
so i've been doing that in the last couple years i found a couple of mine from home i've been sort
of buying them all back up and so much so that i wrote this whole blog post a couple years ago
because i had discovered that the company motto for klutz press was this phrase create wonderful
things be good have fun and i subsequently decided to make that my life's my life's motto and life's
work i don't know exactly what that means maybe we can get into that today but how is that for a
pitch because um i've been saying this for years pretty good i mean what what really
resonated with me was when you posted that to hacker news and i saw everyone chiming in about
how much of an impact particular cloth books had on them as kids or at least how memorable they were
it's not like they all became jugglers like i guess that's not the point but it's like out of
out of the blur of childhood stands out this like experience of having achieved this thing through
this book that was speaking to them that's just fantastic yeah it was cool the john cassidy the
creator of klutz somehow i think he was on some sort of road trip or something at least that's
what he said made his way in over to Hacker News and started answering everyone's questions I think
this was his only interaction Hacker News he sort of had a unexpected ama and then drifted away
never to deal with Hacker News again that is probably the best Hacker News experience I can
imagine uh but yeah it's it's just cool I don't know that and even the origin story of klutz
uh because I've done some digging into Cassidy he's
uh the company was founded in his Palo Alto garage which has some nice you know early computer
history aesthetic and vibes which is which is cool and he was a river raft instructor sort of
bumming around teaching English as well and I think I've never done River rafting but you
spend time on the land as well and you're sort of camping around a fire there's not a lot to
do so you probably play cards you tell tell tales and juggle and juggling did so the first couple of
years yeah yeah tie knots that was basically the first 10 years of klutz it was random stuff you
did around the campfire um which is just really cool and so he he packaged it up and I think
it was the sort of thing like you didn't want to start a company per se it wasn't like I'm
gonna go off and do this thing it's just hey I've got this teaching style and I've
got this nice idea and I can present it in a way that is uh not talking down to
kids and makes them feel empowered and uh I don't know just it just feels like Discovery it feels like
summer reading Joy type stuff so I try to keep them around um not always within arm's reach but
usually that that to me is what's so fantastic about this and that we should try and take to our
publishing project as well yes I mean obviously we've discussed this but for the sake of everyone
else listening like the the idea that it is for the kid like there's a respect for the the reader
who happens to be a kid probably
uh they we know that they're going to be able to learn this thing we know probably within a few
pages they're going to know more than their teachers about this thing that may also be
about magnetism or whatever right like remember they didn't they partner with the modern Gardner
to do like science magic kind of I think so yeah yeah so oh right it's not just juggling
it's like the kind of thing that they're supposed to be learning in school too like
magnets electricity magnetism or whatever um but uh but because of the
kid is engaged with the book and is speaking to them um they are going to know more than their
teachers in in a few pages yeah um so just like to present it that way actually maybe this is a
bit tangential but Charlie how many textbooks let's say did you read that you felt were written
to you that were addressing you like when you were in school in high school or in University
or whatever like you pick up a book you feel like they're actually speaking to you as opposed to
like the academic void or whatever and you're supposed to pick up bits and pieces here and
then I'm obviously zero but the funny thing with my school you'd get these hand-me-down textbooks
and you sort of hoped that your predecessors were um effective highlighters because yeah they make
good notes yeah yeah I remember like the circulating student note Market where like there's
someone else your peers notes on the textbook were worth more than the textbook yeah um but yeah I I
also had this experience of um
um so I majored in mathematics I don't know you know but I imagine math I assumed I I did uh I did
like quite a bit of abstract algebra um but like you know some of it I picked up some of it I
struggle with and um ultimately didn't go down that path obviously um but I came back to abstract
algebra just because I was interested and um in the course of this uh encountered one book called
abstract algebra a student-friendly approach and it's pretty introductory and like you know I
I knew the stuff so I was I was pretty comfortable with it but I worked through the book and the
presentation of the book is um kind of like little schema insofar as there's like a question answer
it's not as committed to the question and answer format as a little schemer is yeah but it's
basically like here are a sequence of questions and some supporting explanatory material where
if you were to work through it in this order uh then you will and it's you know it's written in
person okay if you uh if you made you want to if you were to answer those questions then you will
understand this and it's just totally different to the standard way of teaching anything let alone
abstract algebra and you learn abstract algebra and it's like it has it in the name abstract
algebra a student-friendly approach and the moment you read that you're like shouldn't
everything be a student-friendly approach like aren't these books for the students
so why are they not why do people write them in this sort of stayed boring way is
it just it's it easier I think part of it is like an academic tradition okay um it's like part of it
is maybe you're writing for peers you're writing for the people who make the purchasing decisions
when you get into certain parts of academic textbook Publishing um you're writing for your
editor at Pearson or whatever yeah um and they're writing for the like the department or it's like
the you've probably never seen this movie The Plot of Hook when Peter Pan forgets childhood and he's
a grown person and he's in the corporate world now and he's forgotten Tinkerbell and everyone
so much of teaching is like that yeah so much of teaching it's like I mean that's why a lot of the
time the TAs like you learn more from the TAs or your peers and and we're just talking about that
in relation to like sharing notes and highlighting and whatever yeah your peers are better at speaking
to you about that kind of thing so yeah I did remember some courses in college where I felt
just to play with the other direction
um I felt like this lecture had been given for 20 years and that also was kind of cool to me
um so it wasn't necessarily for me but I felt like I was hearing maybe that's the sort of
Arcane knowledge type appeal to some of this stuff so even if it's the same thing I now have access
to this but that doesn't mean I actually learned it it was maybe more of a just this is interesting
but it didn't actually teach me the topic yeah I think there's value there's value in both I mean
for me I've gotten better and better at learning by myself
um literally uh teaching myself and I think a lot of people in computer science are doing exactly
that I mean something like a million people a year on teach yourself yes uh and um and uh so
there's that uh there's like trying to learn off the greats whether that's a textbook or like
Andrew Ng's Coursera course or whatever yeah um and then there's like this uh this spectrum of
community peer you know whether it's Reddit or your buddy with whom you're doing this or like
a classroom uh where you're all getting the same degree like there's that spectrum there as well I
think being able to navigate all of those is is worthwhile yeah but it definitely didn't feel that
with those books growing up and we were even chatting about the workbooks that you would get
would be the companion to the textbook and they were even worse because you just get this slim
volume that you know is just homework
I'm going to suffer through this and I'm going to mark this up I'm not going to like any of it I'm
going to be racing so I can go watch Dragon Ball Z after this or whatever it was after school yeah
it's an afterthought um a lot of the time I mean sometimes it's written by a different person like
you have this amazing person write the textbook and then like I'm done I've spent all my energy
on this on the expository material someone else can figure out the challenges the exercises or
like a great example of this is um computer systems
from the programmers perspective where it's a fantastic book it's it's really the best textbook
on that topic uh like I've just had a lot of students can have a lot um and the exercises
and labs that those guys teach at CMU are also fantastic um like uh there's this um you know
there's a the kind of standard malloc and shell implementation labs but there's also this one
where you like have to do this reverse engineering to defuse a bomb that's going to explode and
stuff and they've got auto grading and it's just really good stuff okay and then their book has
pretty good exercises but not comparable to the labs that they teach yeah in there in at CMU but
then the international edition of the book for whatever reason has just like balked exercises
just like terrible exercises incorrect solutions to the point where the original authors have have
a note on their website being like don't buy this please be aware the international edition has
terrible exercises uh I don't like how did that happen in publishing I don't know thank you thank
you publisher oh man it's kind of like the Celeron uh you know the story is like what is that a
computer chip yeah yeah it's an Intel it was like the Pentium did you have a Pentium I had a Pentium
that was a that was a big day yeah I'm pretty sure I haven't verified this but I'm pretty sure that
the way that Intel uh did price discrimination uh you know you know about the concept of price
discrimination like you you basically no I deal I mean I should I studied economics but yeah the
the ideal pricing model is to like you know if you could uh if you could guess the price that someone
is willing to pay and offer them exactly that price for your textbook or whatever and do that for every
individual person that would be the optimal right it's like they're just willing to pay this much
money for the book and someone else is willing to pay that much money for the book uh and you're
still going to make a profit so you'll still sell it to them like that would be ideal yeah but you
can't do that realistically so a lot of the time people have like a kind of fake premium uh or like
you're buying a car and you pay extra for the badge or for some like trim that costs you not
very much more but yeah but cost the customer much more because they are willing to pay more
that's price discrimination got it okay I was thinking the way Intel did price discrimination
and please someone fact check this because it's like just something that I picked up somewhere but
I think that the Celeron was basically a a a not very good Pentium where like you fab the chips and
you test them and like there are some defects yeah and um and so it ends up being like it's still
correct but slower or something yeah it's good to be Celeron's or maybe like it's just fabricated in
a way where it's like intentionally broken
uh in a way like uh retarded in a way like yeah we're taught in a way yeah uh that's the Celeron
wow and so they just came up with that they came up with a brand for that yeah okay that's rough I
was thinking of the price discrimination which is not the exact analogy here but it's like sort of
in the other direction which is that Radiohead album which was the one of the first remember in
Rainbows that came out maybe 2010 and it was the first thing I saw which was pay whatever you want
for this album and I paid zero and I later bought it on vinyl but I paid zero and I loved it um but
yeah maybe some people paid them hundreds of dollars I don't know yeah that happens a little
bit with um uh Kickstarter campaigns and um sub stacks and stuff oh I was gonna ask long story
short what we're talking about is like very few people are starting from the question of what is
going to be most effective for because actually it's actually hard and if you are an expert on a
topic you've already invested so much of your intellectual energy on being an expert at that
topic it is highly unlikely that you're also investing a lot of intellectual energy in being
good at conveying that topic to newcomers um there is this kind of conflict and so you know
that's why I resist the temptation to be an expert on a topic uh that's
help out uh no like the the it's very rare to have people and obviously there are some people
like this as well um uh but they're very rare to have individuals who can be world-class at a topic
and also world-class at teaching that thing and so I think a lot of the time in textbook just
the exercises and so on yeah well this this makes me this makes me think I feel like we
were talking about this the other day that you're down on the idea of the young ladies
illustrated primer so I'm just curious your thoughts on text the next
generation of textbooks where Anki and spaced repetition is built in but you did I think
you're my read is that you're not bullish on people tackling this illustrated primer model
for textbooks can you talk about that like where are you I think that's a little bit of
a different problem that I have um with that I mean what I'm responding to is that a lot of people
see how surprisingly successful lms are at some tasks and they say hey like well I read
sci-fi uh I I have this brilliant idea that maybe we can actualize this I mean really a plot device
um in the Diamond Age for people who are not yeah we'll try and do this without spoilers it's it's
worth reading this book even just to understand what's in the zeitgeist I think uh then you'll
see once in uh the Diamond Age um but uh excuse me in this book there's really a narrative device a
book like an interactive book that teaches the protagonist a bunch of things kind of responsibly
excuse me do you want to take over while I mute myself and call yeah yeah
this is when um in Wayne's World there's this moment when Garth is yeah he's dying Garth is in
front of the screen and Wayne's not there and he's like I'm having a good time not uh this is a a
heavily quoted phrase in my household have you seen that movie probably not Wayne's World no of
course not someone out there has um are you all right are you all right over there yeah I'm fine
uh it would be funny if I died on air yeah the audio uh folks wouldn't have uh wouldn't have
gotten to enjoy that unless I just narrated it after but the the YouTubers would have enjoyed that
um the um Diamond Age that I was saying what I don't like what what I'm seeing right right
now is a lot of people just trying to prompt hack their way to a universal interface for learning
where they're like hey I have a custom GPT which will teach you anything you want
and this is the extent of their creative use of LLMs in education it's like I am giving you a
universal interface that adapts to you or whatever uh in the same way that the young
ladies Illustrator does and it's just not it's just not going to work um even the best human
tutors cannot do that effectively across different topics and you want to see an LLM as being like
third quartile at everything uh or you know the second quartile of some things um and uh you know
not not world class at everything so so can I just can I press on that let's say theoretically you
could feed the corpus of klutz press into an LLM and then you said hey generate me a clutch book or
at least a chapter on teaching me something completely random I don't know like pogo
sticking you don't think that would be possible would it just is it because of hallucinations and
it would just teach you something completely random what would be the I think if you were
class press you would still go to the effort
of finding the person to write the book yeah yourself and you just wouldn't bother generating
the output of that because in publishing like you get a good book and you publish that and a
lot of people have it and like it's worth making the effort to have it be you know first quartile
or like 99th percentile um uh let alone like reasonably good LLMs do well at the reasonably
good task not at the like the world-class task what about forget
LLMs but just spaced repetition should textbooks be if you make an online textbook should it just
be built in that you're constantly flash carding things would that be a direction you think you
should go on some country kind of thing quantum yeah exactly the Michael Nielsen project um I
think it's I think they can be neat uh I think yeah like I like execute program um yeah that
what so what I like in execute program in particular one country I guess also
decently well but particularly um this is Gary Bernhardt's executeprogram.com yeah I played with
that I like it what I like about that is that the topics fit the style of learning right like if the
topic is uh JavaScript's array methods or something yeah which is the one I remember doing then that's
great like if that's all you want to learn then there is memorization there and it is nice to be
able to just load that into your brain and to have
the questions be kind of adaptive a little bit like not just you know avoid the failure mode
of you memorizing the numbers and instead they're a bit of a template yeah um then that's something
that you can't just do by writing your own Anki cards uh and so that kind of thing is a great fit
for that what is problematic is then if you say well let's extend this to all of programming
which is not about memorization uh that that is where you start to fail let alone
all of computer science or all of the knowledge there are so many other modes of understanding
things yeah where memorization is just a piece of it uh and so that's that's what like what I
really like about execute program is that Gary has fit the topics to this the style of teaching them
so yeah I want I want to see thousands millions of those where you're like what is that that we're
trying to teach how is the person who's trying to learn this going to learn it what is the
best way to do that what is the feedback loop uh is it about being prompted to to re recall this
thing well then maybe we should prompt them to recall things yeah on a schedule that's when you
end up you know you back your way into space repetition there yeah but what I don't like
about the special space repetition scene is that there are a lot of people who've seen
the value of space repetition for certain things and they try and extend it everywhere
and maybe actually they do a reasonably good job for themselves at like misappropriating or
like adapting it to other things but if they were to start from the problem this is polio
again like the problem is helping someone learn a topic I could maybe extend my use of Anki cards
to cover that topic somewhat well but like as a general solution to this problem do we end up at
space repetition
as the best kind of feedback loop probably not for for most problems yeah so that's that's my
disappointment with that the space repetition scene obviously it's it's it's very good at certain
things like if I needed to learn Japanese or something well actually if I really need to learn
it's going to be full immersion you know right away right but if the bit if there's there are
certain things like I become a med student of course I'm going to use Anki yeah it'd be crazy
not to use it yeah yeah um but there are other things where
like I try to adapt it to things that I want well it feels certainly anything that feels that you
have to digitally with your hands and fingers I feel like you have to have some practical component
it's good to have the knowledge it's you know every movie has the book smart person and then
they're thrown into the field and then they don't know what to do and maybe some of that's just
psychological or um your adrenaline getting to you but I'm the example I was thinking of was
learning to make a fire with I don't know a bow whatever that thing you know I can read an Anki
part about that but it's probably pretty hard to learn how to do that when I'm when I'm freezing and
my hands are chattering and I haven't done this before yeah I mean there are people in the Jujitsu
Jujitsu is a really interesting community because a lot of us are like very nerdy and we're trying
and we're very uh conscious about um learning methods like there's that like metacognitive
aspect to Jujitsu practice that isn't in some other sports um for whatever reason we just get
nerd sniped uh we just love complexity
complexity I guess anyway there are some people who use Anki cards in Jujitsu and it's like okay
there's there's some value in that I guess if you're very good at Anki you may actually support
your learning somewhat but obviously it's not like if you make a a list of the top 100 things
that you could do to be better Jujitsu it's unlikely that making Anki cards is in there
yeah if you start from that point I think Anki comes up very rarely but if you're good at Anki
then maybe extending that to cover some of your understanding is not it's not bad yeah so
I would say to kind of circle to the idea that you and I have been discussing in publishing one one
thought I had that could prompt this was it seems like there's an observation that maybe there are
these there are textbooks like the one you mentioned the abstract algebra Etc that have
been written and are just undis like out of print and you can't find them anymore so some of what
we've been talking about is the using the analogy of Stripe Press that there are these great texts
out there that are obscure that no one knows about that if you try to buy
it could cost four hundred dollars on a books or something like that so just talk to me about that
your your position that you think that a lot of these things are out there and just not easy to
access right now yes sometimes there there is a there's a book like this that I find and I and I'm
finding it on a blog or something and then I I the only copy I can find is on a scan on internet
archive so a concrete example of this is
let's play geometry which was published by mirror which publisher a Soviet uh publisher I don't know
if they're still around in some manifestation or not but their heyday was like the also the heyday
of like optimism around space science mathematics and space yeah in particular and there are just
some fantastic titles and it's for for all for all ages um uh you know some some really clearly
written for kids and others you know
for teenagers and some for adults but a lot of them are just fantastic uh I just like embodies
the optimism of that year at that level yeah but yeah let's play geometry is a concrete example of
that I I do a little bit with my my oldest kid and we printed it out and bounded ourselves
um and it's like a you know a conversational cartoony book um there's like a Pinocchio
character and stuff uh and um uh but they're drawing dots and lines and making shapes and seeing
things out in the world and it's like great Soviet era art um but also it's just like
it's like well here are two dots on a page now you draw a line oh is it a straight line is it
still a line if it's not straight or whatever it's just like it it is interactive with the kid now
if you want a copy of this book good luck like I don't know what it takes to buy a physical copy
of this book now um you know you can print it yourself from a scan on internet Archive I guess
wouldn't it be nice if someone was printing these again yeah um and maybe you could say
hey look if you did it again from scratch for a modern audience it would look different and
wouldn't it would it be an iPad app where you could just yeah maybe that app would be better
and you know there is good interactive geometry stuff as well um but if the easier path uh is
to like find how to to reprint run of this and to find how to promote this well and to get that in the hands of
10 000 kids um rather than like having to write a book from scratch and illustrate that from scratch
and that'd be a year-long process and investing more uh maybe you and I should just print it like
yeah we should just get the rights and printed um so there's that and then um I've been obsessed
recently with uh Mitsumasa Anno um his books are so cool yeah just like beautifully illustrate it's
a little bit different um it's not
I mean it's still interactive he's still speaking to the kid sometimes just three illustrations like
sometimes intentionally no words um but sometimes there are some some verbal prompts as well but
it's like it is in second person uh it is um like actually should we should we bring some up and
yeah yeah let's do it we're gonna violate everyone's copyright if we do that uh well
it's on internet Archive right yeah I guess it's I guess it's their fault we're just going to a website
that gets yanked by YouTube wait let me bring it up first so I don't incriminate myself like selling
okay but the but the Stripe Press analogy here is okay uh the Carlson brothers knew about the
Licklider book and no one could get access to this and it's a similar exactly yeah yeah the
Licklider book the Hamming book these are fantastic books um and when they were promoting them
um they like uh Patrick Collison in particular wanted everyone to read uh dream machine yeah and
you could get it um but it was starting to get expensive and actually the more they promoted it
because of just the limited supply and so if they could find the get a publishing rights which they
did then they could start uh selling it for actually quite cheap it's very uh very accessible
and uh sorry this is me thanks yeah yeah the accessible thing is key too that's like a klutz
press thing when you talk to Cassidy or in his limited interviews his he said every book is less
than 20 dollars which is really important to them yeah for sure um yeah so we got to figure out if
anyone listening is in publishing and wants to give us a crash course and how to actually do
this kind of thing like what it takes to do a reprint run of a book like that and uh then
let me know um so this is Mitsumasa I know uh you know I know most people listening here are not
seven uh but uh if you've got kids or you want to feel like a kid for a moment or just like be
immersed in someone else's world um for uh for uh five minutes and the Mitsumasa honor books are
fantastic actually this illustration my kids were cracking up at this for like 10 minutes
right last night this is uh this is like a um impossible staircase yeah yeah it's uh it's out
of a book called topsy-turvies okay and this is one of his earlier books and uh award-winning like
this is when he got international recognition I think um but like at first I looked at it and
didn't see much of it and then we started counting the levels it's like this is level one okay so you
go up the stairs to
the level two and then you go up the stairs too and then they just lost it they just lost control
and it's like it was weird it was weird to experience that it's like it's not that funny
guys yeah uh but Mitsumasa I don't know he knew it was funny he knew that it was yeah
yeah and so topsy-turvies is just it's just illustrated they're no words and uh it's just
scenarios like this um just to like get from prompt some like creative thinking or something
um so what happened like something like this is lovely this is a beautiful book why did it fade
away what happened I mean there's probably a unique story for every one of these like the
mere Publishing I don't know the Soviet Union ended maybe that had an impact on mirror but
what do you think happens on those books my understanding based on five minutes of research is
that this was originally published in English by a publisher that had some fantastic titles something
like a dozen plus of Mitsumasa anos but also some early Eric Carl books and some other great stuff
um and maybe even the very hungry caterpillar um but uh they did fantastically at selecting these
kinds of books and then got acquired I think that's what happens yeah if anyone listening knows
the story please let me know or feels like investigating the story please let me know
but I think that's it and I think that
um some big name publisher they won't mention uh it has the has the publishing rights and they just
couldn't be bothered and they're publishing a bunch of other stuff instead um hungry caterpillar
persists to this day so they it seems like yeah they pick some holdovers so anyway I mean this
counting I know this counting book is is still very widely uh circulated printed um so that's
still in print um but there's a bunch of other stuff in here that's not and some of them sadly
are becoming collector's items which is just like pushing up the prices quite a lot so Socrates and
the Three Little Pigs is an example of this it's just like it's expensive if you want to copy um
some others are very good and maybe let's bring up let's see internet archives uh and I think
I know this hats is maybe a good example of this
that's what it is so let's see if internet archive is going to let us see this without
logging in yeah limited preview
come on are they going to mask it well I'm trying to uh I'm trying to stay incognito here yeah see
can I do this I'll take this off the screen okay it went yeah that was fast
you're gonna have you may have a lot of emails on your Gmail account right now I know I know yeah
oh that's all right that's like if you if you want to email a celebrity like there's
probably a good chance the celebrity is their name at Gmail yeah or this is my birth name
though which I don't use oh yeah okay maybe it's a little bit harder but it is published
on my website yeah you can email me I like emails okay uh let's see here
now I gotta do this two-factor auth okay as you're doing this I'm one of the other things
about Stripe Press they've obviously done an amazing job packaging and printing them and
making them feel beautiful objects and for me a big part I want I want to work on something
where a kid feels like they're building their own personal library in some way so some of that can
be fostered by the parents and they just sort of make this available but I love the idea of a kid
building their Arsenal
of books that they love so I do feel like packaging them in a nice way not that the versions I'm seeing
here aren't beautiful but I wonder what we could do there and klutz's angle was everything should
be spiral bound or at least print it in a way that you can hold both sides open and it can lay flat
um that's just aesthetic thing but I feel like that would be really cool I want my idea is you're
under a blanket you've got a flashlight and you've got your thing flat underneath you that's the
that's the vibes I want
yeah even just usable books doable books you can tear out the pages you can yeah they're designed
to be drawn on and so yeah um so this is hat tricks what I I gotta actually click borrow as well
okay now we're borrowing it now it's legit are we allowed to borrow it and do a reading on YouTube
I don't I don't know let's see if we get a takedown this will be the first the CS take down notice
all right you're spoiling it you're going from the back
oh sorry yeah all right maybe this is fine all right so firstly illustrations beautiful like
this is kind of the motivation to try and do some reprinting rather than just Commission new work
yeah it's like really really nicely done uh and uh now secondly like you are present you the reader
are present as a shadow oh cool this is your shadow
uh so then you are asked questions you the shadow the person who cast the shadow I guess
shadow child shadow Charles
and it's saying okay we asked Tom what's the color of your hat Tom doesn't know oh wait to be clear we
have uh three red hats and two white hats at this point he's he's built up to this so I mean this is
like that Khan Academy did you ever do that Khan Academy brain teaser with the aliens and the people
in the hats and everything in the different color hats no I didn't maybe it's inspired oh it's so
good yeah anyway uh so yeah three uh three red two whites uh Tom doesn't know what color his hat is
uh Anna doesn't know either so shadow child do you know the color of your hair like your presence in
the book right yeah this is like uh uh abstract algebra student-friendly approach just for like
introductory logic for seven-year-olds like you're right there and now I love that yourself
uh so this kind of thing and like building up one problem at a time and it gets hard by the end
like he keeps doing yeah he keeps sorry did I spoil it no that's I mean look at that look at
that binary tree over there yeah
um okay yeah so this this kind of thing it's it's a shame that there are more copies around
basically it's a shame that they're not printing it right now it'd be nice to nice to have that
um or like we we Commission work like this it just feels like maybe you know since you and I
have other things that we do in our time and that's the thing I I want to experiment with
this in some way I want to see if we can do some limited run you know learn about print on demand
or maybe we have to do like
something more complicated if we want cool binding I want to go through that experience because I
feel as if the experience of getting rights that's its own Adventure and we should we should figure
that out because I do believe in this mission but I also wonder maybe we could write one ourselves
it you know may not be of the you know it probably won't be of the caliber of anos but that could at
least get us in the flow in an experimental way because you know Stripe Press does Commission
books they find authors they find things so we could
for both avenues at the same time um I don't know I I want to make some progress on this I I like your
call out to see if anyone has any ideas about the the right side that would be great yeah but maybe
we need to dig in and see what the two of us could come up with if we wanted to do a small version of
this ourselves do you want to test the printing thing in particular or do you think it'd be easier
to make it as an interactive uh iPad app or something I'm probably it would be
easier to make it interactive but I haven't done too much interactivity in some way like
um we could probably figure that out and we wouldn't have to do apparently EPUB you just do
CSS animation oh okay yeah we could try both I like the idea of printing it I just I like physical
books I am surrounded by books um and to hearken back to that thing we were talking about getting
those Clutz books I still just remember moments in the library where I hold off or my mom pulls off
something and gives it to me and just unlocked this whole world I the physicality of it is
something that's really important to me so I do want to try that thing yeah yeah I'm with you I
mean that's why we published it why so we print it out let's play geometry and bound it and stuff
yeah we could actually have that particularly so that you can draw on it but like I just didn't
didn't get that much out of looking at on the screen cool well this Oz this is broadly part of a
uh thing that you had posted the other day I don't know if you've shared it but just this idea of
finding people to collaborate on um different projects but do you want to talk about that at
all I feel like I've raised my hand at least about this one but I don't know this idea of
the things you're interested in and just chatting with people and brainstorming is really fun
yeah I can I can share this maybe this is just a kind of call out extended call out
for those who are looking at the screen so I mean obviously I'm working on CS prime it's a CS prime
a show I'm about one year into the project and it's probably going to take three years total
I'm realizing yeah um to get it to the standard that I want across all the topics that I want
um and I'm gonna do it like it's the most important thing for me to do
but it is a little bit isolating because it is a long solo project and I've got a
lot of respect for people who can do that uh for writers and so on and um I'm doing okay but it's
it's nice to have some some uh human interaction from time to time and this is why you agreed to
do this with me uh yeah thank you so lonely yeah maybe we wouldn't have started this
uh and also there's just like I I'm I'm realizing about myself that I like a little I like to be a
little bit over committed uh I like to have a little bit too much going on I just feel better
as a person if if if it's a bit manic
like that other people get stressed out about I'm like bring it on this is yeah yeah that's been my
day today and I've been having a great day so yeah I wish I'd understood that about myself
earlier like some people like to be narrow in their focus uh I do go narrow focus at at times
but like if you tell me hey you need to drop everything and just like clean the house until
it's a hundred percent clean that's a nightmare for me whereas if you're like
you have 10 responsibilities today and just do as much of each of them like the more you do the
better yeah I'm gonna do better on average like across all the days Aaron long story short uh I
I wrote this up as just like it's like a subset of the the ideas the projects list that I'm sure
everyone listening has in a Google Doc uh like side project ideas yeah that I thought might
be amenable to um working with other people that's just like a bad signal to
the you know who who gets it and uh feels like reaching out and honestly a lot of it is just
like if you come to me with energy about anything that's like somewhat related to this I'd be
interested in in trying something with you you bring some of the energy let's do this
uh and a lot of them are related to what we've been talking about as a kind of press
for kids books books that speak to the child yeah um but uh you know a bit of a kind of
extra twist so what is here there's a lot of like 17th century science that I'm like I wish
people had more exposure to this stuff I love the 17th century so like are you talking about
leeches and things like that or uh well like things like this where it's like
we've for the first time have a good sense of circulation in the body like a good hypothesis
for circulation in the body because just this period of science is like now uh we are dispelling
long-held notions about how the world works in very simple ways it's not like the fancy sophisticated
uh like well-funded lab science of today which is unapproachable very I mean it's just like even I
remember I was trying to do some work I I tried to um for my undergrad physics do some lab work to
like test out of the uh
uh experimental uh physics work that I was doing yeah and I show up at the lab and they have this
multi-million dollar machine and the there's a there's a big team and it's like for my like
finding a way to work here make a contribution just felt impossible anyway yeah 17th century
the 17th century science stuff is approachable for kids because they don't need the fancy
instruments you can give them a prism a magnet whatever well this looks like give them a give
them a tourniquet
and then see what happens is what this looks like well this one like uh feels like it should be a
video game because uh and for those listening this is uh Harvey's 1628 moto course which is really
like uh trying to get an understanding of the body that is well beyond Galen uh which is just like you
know everyone just respects Galen or whatever Galen thought about the about how the body works
was just what was assumed
about how the body worked and Harvey just did some like back of the envelope calculation and he was
like look it doesn't actually make sense that blood would be created in the liver because just
look at the volume of blood that would have to be created uh for and so it makes more sense if
for instance the heart circulated the existing blood and oxygenated it and just kind of
demonstrated this through really simple arithmetic that a that a child could understand um and a lot
of these things
and this is a fantastic illustration for that a lot of these things are just like well try this input
and you'll get this output and you can see for yourself you don't need a fancy instrument you
don't need an x-ray machine this is just like an understanding of the body anyway well the best
thing for me on this was magic school bus if I think about Anatomy the like the only thing I know
about Anatomy is when Miss Frizzle drove her bus into the human body and it was just kind of red
and gross but if I went back probably everything I believe about the human body is based on that one
episode well yeah
um yeah there are different uh different ways of storytelling I guess about this and what I really
like is the historical motivation yeah uh yeah definitely and I think you could tell a story
here of like yeah what did I say defeating the ghost of Galen uh it's like um the storytelling
of where we were as humanity in this situation like in this uh like what what I think you could
also convey through the historical storytelling aspect is the um the understanding
of how human progress evolves like how we have uh scientific progress so just increases in our
understanding as as all of us as people and we're currently wrong as well about things like you're
not just getting the final word on how the human body works it's an ongoing process like there's a
lot that we don't understand about medicine and you're going to be part of pushing it forward maybe
um so seeing like this this kind of thing the updating of understanding
in a way that's approachable is really appealing to me that's that's in the same vein of telling a
kid everything around you was created by people this bridge was created by someone and then just
if these weren't fixed things in time they were created by humans for sure for sure and they got
it wrong look at these Bridge Collapses and maybe that Bridge will collapse right yeah that's that's
fantastic for kids I think anyway so I've I've got a bunch of ideas here which are like um yeah
it's a lot to go to this I think would do well as a computer game just because some of them are
like um vivisection uh where you know you don't really want a kid to dissect a live pig uh but
but other ones are just like if you have a magnet or if you have some Amber and that's Gilbert's book
now then you could do these experiments and you know I think that klutz's uh magnetism book and
actually like science magic book are examples of this as well of speaking to the child and
having that interactivity but I like the historical context again because of that
process so basically the idea for this one would be to have a book that has effectively Gilbert's
um process of understanding magnetism and he does lots of fun stuff just like dispelling uh
motions of like how magnets would work I don't know I want to do this one I think this could be
one of our one of our published books um did klutz do a magnet one did you see they did yeah yeah yeah
yeah they did they did like uh electricity and magnetism we should actually get that and check
that out all right yeah I'm on it okay but like it's I think it's fine again going back to our
conversation of like there's no one young ladies Illustrated Primer yeah it's like different books
are going to speak to different kids and I think having the the
historical narrative as part of that um is going to be a valuable appealing for some kids and some
kids are going to like the Hocus Pocus aspect the whiz bang aspect of um of mine gardeners books
yeah I mean they're still going to sell I don't know if he sold a hundred thousand copies of that
and close to a million copies of that it's a great book um we should have once they do find
that room temperature superconductor we could do a book on that that would be kind of nice
make your own yeah yeah yeah um so that yeah so there's that kind of thing micrograph here is in
that vein as well this is this would just I think be a fantastic experience for a kid because it's
like recreating the imagine doing that for the first time like you're looking at these things
for the very first time through the very first microscope and illustrating it this is what
kickstarted the Royal Society by the way this is their first publication really yeah cool
uh so I mean I just wanted a copy of the book by the way and like the the print quality is really
poor on the copies that you can get yeah and it doesn't have these kinds of like holdouts
yeah yeah I just I just it astounds me that they were able to typeset these things back
then or you know even early 20th century and have these foldouts and things like that and
now we're getting I order a book it's like printed in Nevada by Amazon and it's complete garbage yeah
yeah yeah there are some people who still put in the effort for this but it's like I guess the
accessibility is the trade-off this was not an accessible book that's fair uh yeah now now even
if you're paying 100 bucks for a well-printed book that's way more accessible yeah if we're
gonna try and get it down to 10 10 dollars uh or a dollar now we're talking iPad apps yeah so that's
that's the that's the spectrum I am looking uh as I'm looking at the clock here we may have to return
to this but I also will link to it if uh we'll keep the rest as a exercise for them I'm not going
to go one by one like showing you a family photo album they're all good ideas um okay well let's
meet again on the book stuff okay cool okay yeah let's wait no stop recording now and then let's
talk about the super secret stuff okay oh yeah all right oh I'm do I hit leave yeah I hit leave

Creators and Guests

Oz Nova
Oz Nova
Learn computer science with me: async via https://t.co/7DJHcrvyg1 or live via https://t.co/3txqrpBkwi. Or, https://t.co/pDTuKaskQZ
E16: What if textbooks were actually fun?
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