On eReaders and Altruism

Monkeys aren’t always nice to each other. Sometimes they fight, sometimes they scream, and sometimes they just pick on each other for the hell of it. Like when a baby rhesus shoved her younger sister off of a ten-foot high crate for no apparent reason (not dissimilar to when my older sister pushed me under the dining room table when I was a baby and tried playing it off like I had “disappeared”. But I digress).

Sometimes, though, monkeys will show their altruistic side and be kind without trying to reap any benefit. A rhesus might groom someone else’s baby or a marmoset will share her marshmallow with the rest of the group. At times, this behavior can be seen in humans too.

A great example of this can be found in the non-proftit organization Worldreader. It started when the company Amazon agreed to send 20 kindles to a school in Ayenyah, Ghana, where a class of sixth graders were able to read many of the pre-downloaded books and textbooks provided (they were preloaded because they were unsure whether they’d be able to get a connection to the internet at the time).

Today more than 56,000 eBooks have been sent to the area. The organization even makes sure to provide IT specialists so they can address any problems or needed repairs, and AT&T has taken measures to increase services in some places so they can more easily access wireless internet. They are even beginning to partner with local publishers in Africa to create digital versions of books from the area to promote local culture.

Worldreader’s goal is to reach millions of children in schools of Sub-Saharan Africa. This is truly an example of a way in which technology has had a positive impact on humanity, and if you feel so inclined, please don’t hesitate to be a part of the altruism and donate to the cause. For every two ebooks sent by the organization, the children have the option to download one piece of reading material of their choice. They may not be able to fold down the corner of a page or have that organic relationship with a paperback that some people seem to prefer, but they do get to read, and that is the future of books.

...or not


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