Are Hard Disk Drives a Publishing Medium

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Location: Cheverly, Maryland, United States

I'm a geek and musician in the Washington DC-area.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

An inquiry

Every year the size of hard disk drives gets larger and larger. In 2005, the size of hard drives shipping with new computers is in the range of 150 to 250 megabytes. Within the next few years that will rise to 500 gigabytes and then a terabyte or more.

The amount of unused hard drive space on these computers is often more than 100 gigabytes. Are we missing an opportunity to include 100 gigabytes worth of learning material (text, audio, video and other rich media) on this hard drive space? This learning material could easily be deleted by any person or business needing use of that hard drive space.

If learning material were included on this hard drive space then elementary, middle school, high school, college students and adult literacy learners could receive a learning resource for their self-betterment. The cost of providing that learning resource to students would be very low.

This raises the question of whether hard disk drives are a publishing medium and if so, what are the ways of putting this publishing medium to best use? What existing entity, or newly created entity, should involve itself in collecting freely distributable learning materials for placement on hard disk drives? Would computer companies voluntarily include such learning materials on the computers they sell, or would there need to be a law requiring them to do so?

What learning subjects lend themselves well for students to engage in self-learning using this learning material? Is there a role for nonprofit organizations doing computer refurbishing to have access to this same learning material to place on computers they are distributing to community members? Does learning material extend to freely distributable educational software?

What role is there for community technology centers in collecting and distributing digital learning materials?

Here is some information about how much the U.S. Federal governments spends on education each year. There must be ways of distributing digital content and learning materials to make these more affordably accessible to more youth and adults.