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Apple's 'Bliss' e-textbook project inspired by Al Gore's 'Our Choice'

post #1 of 82
Thread Starter 
Apple on Thursday will unveil a new digital textbook project internally code-named "Bliss" that was inspired by Al Gore's "Our Choice" iOS e-book, AppleInsider has learned.

The details come from a tip sent earlier in the week by an anonymous source. AppleInsider could not initially confirm any of the details and declined to publish a story.

However, on Tuesday The Wall Street Journal published a story corroborating many of the details in the original tip, including the fact that Roger Rosner, Apple's vice president of development for iWork, is apparently overseeing the project.

The person who contacted AppleInsider indicated that Apple's Internet software chief, Eddy Cue, is responsible for the distribution side of the new e-textbook initiative. But Rosner is said to be in charge of development of the editor used to create digital textbooks, as well as the reading software that will allow students and teachers to view the files.

The person said the internal code-name for the project is "Bliss," and said the software will allow publishers to make textbooks more interactive.

One of the primary sources of inspiration for the project was said to be an e-book released by former U.S. vice president and Apple board member Al Gore. Last year, he and Push Pop Press released "Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis" on the iOS App Store, and the interactive title was met with a great deal of praise.



Push Pop Press, founded by former Apple engineers Mike Matas and Kimon Tsinteris, abandoned its initial plans to shake up the e-books market with interactive iOS applications, such as their collaboration with Gore, after the company was acquired by Facebook last summer.

Unlike Apple's own iBooks app, Push Pop Press had planned to develop interactive e-book content using the native Cocoa Touch development tools for iOS. iBooks uses the open EPUB format, making Apple's existing e-books more akin to self-contained Web apps.

While Apple could adopt the "native app" strategy used by Push Pop Press, it's more likely it will continue to use Web technologies for ebooks, potentially expanding the feature set of its existing EPUB support, or developing a new HTML5-based format similar to Amazon's proprietary KF8.

Apple has already developed its own internal tools for creating interactive, Web-based content for the iPhone and iPad, which it then adapted to deploy iTunes Extras and iTunes LP bonus content on movies and albums in 2009, first within iTunes and then on Apple TV.

The company has since released iAd Producer to allow third party developers to build similarly dynamic web based content for use in the company's mobile advertising network. Apple's iTunes, iBooks and iAd initiatives are all managed under the direction of Cue, the company's head of Internet Software and Services.

Rumors that Apple plans to unveil new tools to craft interactive textbooks were corroborated earlier Wednesday by Bloomberg. That report claimed that Apple's new software will carry a specific focus on creating digital textbooks for children in grades kindergarten through 12.

Apple's education-related media event will take place on Thursday at 10 a.m. Eastern, 7 a.m. Pacific from New York City's Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
post #2 of 82
Oh heck, there goes half the US population refusing to even look at this as it can't be true if Al's name is mentioned.

And no politics on AI OK!
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post #3 of 82
Whatever Apple can do to make the e-book / e-magazine process easier and more accessible would be welcome. The process needs to be removed from the hands of programmers and given back to authors, artists and designers.

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post #4 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Whatever Apple can do to make the e-book / e-magazine process easier and more accessible would be welcome. The process needs to be removed from the hands of programmers and given back to authors, artists and designers.

You mean like web pages, which are now all heavy duty JS and CSS with jQuery and AJAX and PHP, SQL, etc. There is no simple web project these days.

iWeb was good for beginners and any WYSIWYG development tools made for iBooks will also be usable in a rudimentary way, but to do it professionally I think we will still need the programmers.

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post #5 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Oh heck, there goes half the US population refusing to even look at this as it can't be true if Al's name is mentioned.

And no politics on AI OK!

Agreed! One of these days we need to get back to thinking like Americans, not Dem/Rep or Red/Blue. If this story is accurate and we won't know until tomorrow, this sounds like a great idea. The cost of textbooks is insane for all levels of schooling and if they can be created to be interactive with current events etc, all the better.
post #6 of 82
I always thought of Push Pop as the future of digital publishing..but then they sold out to Facebook.. What a shame..
post #7 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Oh heck, there goes half the US population refusing to even look at this as it can't be true if Al's name is mentioned.

And no politics on AI OK!

So you bring up politics and tell people "no politics" on AI?
post #8 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickwil61 View Post

So you bring up politics and tell people "no politics" on AI?

Well, is was supposedly ironic-humor and partly to try to prevent it going that way since it isn't anything to do with politics or shouldn't be. Then I didn't foresee the Creationsts fearing the kids in their States having access to the truth with this and the thread will no doubt go down hill from there
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post #9 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rickybill View Post

Agreed! One of these days we need to get back to thinking like Americans, not Dem/Rep or Red/Blue. If this story is accurate and we won't know until tomorrow, this sounds like a great idea. The cost of textbooks is insane for all levels of schooling and if they can be created to be interactive with current events etc, all the better.

Love your first thought there. Wouldn't that be a wonderful future to aim for?
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post #10 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

You mean like web pages, which are now all heavy duty JS and CSS with jQuery and AJAX and PHP, SQL, etc. There is no simple web project these days.

iWeb was good for beginners and any WYSIWYG development tools made for iBooks will also be usable in a rudimentary way, but to do it professionally I think we will still need the programmers.

HyperCard used to be intuitive. Keynote is fairly intuitive. These are examples of the program doing the grunt work so the author/designer/etc. can focus on the content. Web page design is horrible drudgery.

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post #11 of 82
Other versions of this story have the new product being a creation tool all e-book publishing, not just textbooks. Hope that's true. I self-published a print book last year (designed entirely in Pages) but could not find a practical path to e-pubishing it.
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post #12 of 82
It is a simple concept, if AI wants to avoid politics don't publish articles with political content like this one. If nothing else it dilutes what is likely a sound concept and hopefully a bleeding edge app for text book creation.

In case you are wondering mentioning Al Gore immediately places the thread into the category of radical politics. As to global warming you don't have to be on the right nor the left to realize that some really bad science is involved in the discussion. To try to paint it as a religious issue is plain ignorance.

In any event back to the rumor, the thing that worries me is that this rumor seems to imply an app that is maybe a little to tightly focused. There are all sorts of educational interests that could effectively put such a tool to work. Beyond that I know a few authors that would really love a helping hand for self publishing. Tomorrow will be very interesting to say the least.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rickybill View Post

Agreed! One of these days we need to get back to thinking like Americans, not Dem/Rep or Red/Blue. If this story is accurate and we won't know until tomorrow, this sounds like a great idea. The cost of textbooks is insane for all levels of schooling and if they can be created to be interactive with current events etc, all the better.
post #13 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

Other versions of this story have the new product being a creation tool all e-book publishing, not just textbooks. Hope that's true. I self-published a print book last year (designed entirely in Pages) but could not find a practical path to e-pubishing it.

There is an ePub template for Pages but it's not very pretty

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post #14 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

HyperCard used to be intuitive. Keynote is fairly intuitive. These are examples of the program doing the grunt work so the author/designer/etc. can focus on the content. Web page design is horrible drudgery.

Well, that is open source standards for you. Unfortunately for artist/designers, ePubs are formatted exactly like web pages except much stricter standards and Enhanced ePubs are even more strict and convoluted because they utilize HTML5-like tags, Javascript and CSS.

WYSIWYG environments like Dreamweaver produce horrible code when used by non-programmers. I can imagine the same obstacles will be difficult to overcome in the iBook realm as well.

On a side note it will interesting to see how they handle math/scientific markup because so far HTML (mathHTML) is a complete disaster.

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post #15 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Well, is was supposedly ironic-humor and partly to try to prevent it going that way since it isn't anything to do with politics or shouldn't be. Then I didn't foresee the Creationsts fearing the kids in their States having access to the truth with this and the thread will no doubt go down hill from there

Well I've got a sense of humor too and I think that Al Gore is a big windbag that would do well to practice what he preaches and reduce his carbon footprint rather than buy environmental "indulgences". However his endorsement of interactive textbooks has nothing to do with my opinion of that technology because I think it would be really cool.

And since you've taken a shot at another group of people that have nothing to do with this conversation then I'd say the Creationists kids already have access to the truth. It is the people who think that something comes from nothing are the ones who need to get access to the truth.

HINT: If you don't want to talk about politics or religion then don't bring either topic up, especially of your purpose is to disparage those with viewpoints different than yours and then say that you don't want the thread to go downhill.
post #16 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickwil61 View Post

Well I've got a sense of humor too and I think that Al Gore is a big windbag that would do well to practice what he preaches and reduce his carbon footprint rather than buy environmental "indulgences". However his endorsement of interactive textbooks has nothing to do with my opinion of that technology because I think it would be really cool.

And since you've taken a shot at another group of people that have nothing to do with this conversation then I'd say the Creationists kids already have access to the truth. It is the people who think that something comes from nothing are the ones who need to get access to the truth.

HINT: If you don't want to talk about politics or religion then don't bring either topic up, especially of your purpose is to disparage those with viewpoints different than yours and then say that you don't want the thread to go downhill.

The subject of Creationist's opinions related to all this was brought up on parallel blogs including other threads on AI today and as I read them all I didn't feel I injected or took an isolated shot at the topic relative to science books, it was already a current topic.

Your view of science is clearly illustrated by your summation of science above. I can't even begin to debate any Creationist on this subject, I don't have the patience, I find it on par with arguing with a brick.

However, I totally defend your right to believe what you want though. Sometimes I wish I could believe in Peter Pan, Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy ... sigh
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post #17 of 82
I didn't know about the app, I'm gonna get me an iTunes card and try it out. Looks interesting.

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post #18 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I find it on par with arguing with a brick.

Bricks are far less vocal and opinionated. I have a congregation of them living next door and I never hear a peep out of them.

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post #19 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Well, is was supposedly ironic-humor and partly to try to prevent it going that way since it isn't anything to do with politics or shouldn't be. Then I didn't foresee the Creationsts fearing the kids in their States having access to the truth with this and the thread will no doubt go down hill from there

Interactive textbooks are only good as the truth of the subject matter they contain. IF the PC crowd gets a hold of this technology, as they have a hold on the current school text books, this will only be a fancier way of brainwashing and indoctrination and does Apple really want to be associated with that? I guess about as much as being associated with children filled sweatshops slapping together some "i-device"...

Al and "the truth" in the context on the subject of 'Climate Crisis' now that's HILLAIRREEUS!!!

If he has 'the truth' on his side, why won't he debate!

No need to reply DC, because I'll only retort with...

"WHY WON'T HE DEBATE?!"

"WHY WON'T HE DEBATE?!"

"WHY WON'T HE DEBATE?!"

THAT and, oh yeah...

"WHY WON'T HE DEBATE?!"
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post #20 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

The subject of Creationist's opinions related to all this was brought up on parallel blogs including other threads on AI today and as I read them all I didn't feel I injected or took an isolated shot at the topic relative to science books, it was already a current topic.

Your view of science is clearly illustrated by your summation of science above. I can't even begin to debate any Creationist on this subject, I don't have the patience, I find it on par with arguing with a brick.

However, I totally defend your right to believe what you want though. Sometimes I wish I could believe in Peter Pan, Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy ... sigh

Typical condescending response. I don't agree with your view of science so I'm against all science and my views are nothing but fairy tales. There are scientists who would disagree with your view of science who at one time shared your views. I guess it all depends on the assumptions you have behind your science. If you've already assumed any evidence pointing to a creator is "unscientific" then no amount of evidence would convince you. But I agree with you in this, that I totally respect your right to believe and speak as you wish. And I don't even need to insult you by referring to you as a brick...
post #21 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Oh heck, there goes half the US population refusing to even look at this as it can't be true if Al's name is mentioned.

And the other half will become mindless enthusiasts for the same reason? Hopefully, there's at least some people out of each demographic who will be more complex than that. What happens is that a few people of the hyper-polarized persuasion start talking smack, and the other side of the fence says "Oh, they're all like that." *shrug*

Although I think the technology used in that book was fascinating, I don't think it's going to end up having any place in what's going to be announced tomorrow, except as "Hey interactivity is great! See?" That was a native app and didn't use ePub standards. Apple probably can't go off and do something totally proprietary and be successful. I think it's going to be great tools and savvy agreements, tomorrow. We'll see though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

And no politics on AI OK!

I think you didn't take your own advice, but okay
post #22 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Well, is was supposedly ironic-humor and partly to try to prevent it going that way since it isn't anything to do with politics or shouldn't be. Then I didn't foresee the Creationsts fearing the kids in their States having access to the truth with this and the thread will no doubt go down hill from there

Well done mate! You really derailed this thread, didn't you. So maybe my post to an earlier thread on this subject was very relevant?
post #23 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

You mean like web pages, which are now all heavy duty JS and CSS with jQuery and AJAX and PHP, SQL, etc. There is no simple web project these days.

iWeb was good for beginners and any WYSIWYG development tools made for iBooks will also be usable in a rudimentary way, but to do it professionally I think we will still need the programmers.

I agree that the "new" textbooks will, likely, resemble a well-crafted, interactive web project -- with many, if not all, the components you mention,


I wonder how this will work out...
  • XCode has a pretty good beginning at storyboarding apps (could be books)
  • XCode supports CoreData for high[er]-level dbms
  • XCode supports OAS (AppleScript) high-level scripting

What Xcode lacks is a higher-level abstraction programming/scripting capability. I don't think PHP is the answer as it is too granular. I did a lot of web development using ColdFusion * -- powerful, but too verbose. Then you have all the intricacies of all the other web components.

* FWIW, a few years ago, another and myself created a self-contained ColdFusion package that included everything needed to run a web site from anywhere, on the desktop, from a read-only CD/DVD... It contained all the things you mentioned except PHP and included a DB server, Application Server, Web Server...

The goal was to encapsulate an interactive, database-driven web site as an executable app on the desktop, or CD/DVD. Not quite the same as the "new" textbooks -- but it is eerily similar...

ColdFusion Everywhere PART 1


Back on topic...

Ideally, the creative author could prepare "new" textbooks on a high level with tools familiar to him,

Maybe, the approach should be to use something like Keynote to storyboard your "new" textbook at a high level -- then use some kind of compiler to generate the ePub (or whatever).

I suspect that this process could be modular so that changes could be made without regenerating and redistributing the entire textbook.

Of course, the author will want to include/interface/create additional content -- like audio, video and apps (say a 3D graphing app) within the text -- that's a whole 'nother set of requirements.

Consider, if you will an interactive textbook on PhotoShop, iMovie or Final Cut... or better, an interactive textbook on how to use the interactive textbook creation tools!

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post #24 of 82
Coincident with the coming event is this from

http://www.chegg.com/etextbooks/

It's written up on NYT:
http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/0.../?ref=business
post #25 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

One of the primary sources of inspiration for the project was said to be an e-book released by former U.S. vice president and Apple board member Al Gore. Last year, he and Push Pop Press released "Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis" on the iOS App Store

Well I hope the concept works as well for non-fiction textbooks. Guess we will find out.

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post #26 of 82
Talking about politics when it's germane to article posted by AI would seem acceptable, otherwise I would avoid the topic.

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post #27 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

HyperCard used to be intuitive. Keynote is fairly intuitive. These are examples of the program doing the grunt work so the author/designer/etc. can focus on the content. Web page design is horrible drudgery.

We now have AppleScript and Automator but it's not quite the wonder that HyperCard was. I loved HyperCard, HyperTalk and Danny Goodman's clarity in explaining it all.
post #28 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

There is an ePub template for Pages but it's not very pretty

Actually, it is quite good if you take the time to explore it beyond the admittedly terse tech notes.
post #29 of 82
Just what we need, another thing for Al Gore to claim credit for.
post #30 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by flowney View Post

Actually, it is quite good if you take the time to explore it beyond the admittedly terse tech notes.

I took the time to learn how to use Pages to create ePub3 and IMHO it is quite good. It could be better and I would love to be able to include APPS with in the iBook which is part of the ePub3 standard.

My biggest grief is there are really no good ePub3 capable readers other than iBooks. iBooks doesn't even exist as a Reader app on the Mac!

IMHO that is an area where Apple has dropped the ball. I hope Thursday fixes some of these irritations.

If I want quick and dirty, ie like most of the ePubs out there I can knock those out in just a few minutes using Mac OS Services for Lion.

I can convert to MOIB but that is only for Kindle and it irritates me to have to do that for such a limited platform.

I also find it disturbing that most ePub Readers for Android leave a fair amount to be desired but that may be a limitation of how Android displays things and the dinky size of most Android tablets. I hope some one has the balls to try a good ePub3 Reader for Android.
post #31 of 82
Anyone know what facebook did with Push Pop?
post #32 of 82
Wonder if they will also introduce special education pricing for the iPad or perhaps a cheaper cut down 8gb model specifically for that market.
post #33 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Bricks are far less vocal and opinionated. I have a congregation of them living next door and I never hear a peep out of them.

Oh no ... Poor you. As an ex science teacher I simply can't take them.
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post #34 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Bricks are far less vocal and opinionated. I have a congregation of them living next door and I never hear a peep out of them.

That's nice.
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post #35 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by pauldfullerton View Post

Well done mate! You really derailed this thread, didn't you. So maybe my post to an earlier thread on this subject was very relevant?

My bad.
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post #36 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Oh no ... Poor you. As an ex science teacher I simply can't take them.

As an ex-science teacher then you may be interested in the story of one of your brethren who converted to brickism. He's no more vocal or opinionated than you are. Interesting read.

http://www.icr.org/article/95/
post #37 of 82
Awesome. Our Choice is easily the most well-made app of it's kind on the appstore. I was blown away when I first saw it. The first thing I thought about was interactive textbooks. The fluidity, functionality, usability, and beauty of the app is amazing, regardless of your political views. But I have to admit, the sheer hatred and vitriol towards environmental concern in this thread is pretty shocking. Makes mewant to take a second look on whether I even want to be a member of a forum with such right wing, reality-rejecting mindset.
post #38 of 82
The Push Pop app was actually very well done as an interactive eBook. I've always been very fond of reading things that are tangental to the main topic and would find this kind of format very fascinating.

In addition, if an author felt that he/she wanted only to keep one thread of thought going, but needed to explain some concepts in greater depth to make them clear, then this sort of interactive experience could make it possible to do so without drawing out the reading experience for those with better understanding.

The only danger, as I see it, is that an author might be tempted to use the interactive elements excessively since they are available and not because they add anything of value.
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post #39 of 82
For everyone who's been victimized inside college bookstores, paying $100+ for a textbook that returns $.50 at the end of the semester, this is good news. I hope Apple turns the textbook business inside out.

Another good thing is it will reduce the weight of backpacks our kids are being forced to carry all over school.
post #40 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickwil61 View Post

Interesting read.

Not really. Evolutionary zealots are just as easily brainwashed as biblical zealots. All he proves is that he can't think for himself but rather needs someone to do his thinking for him, be it a scientist with an agenda or a preacher with one.

Evolution is real, as we can easily see it in action, for example as pathogens mutate and become drug resistant.

Creation may be real as well but there is no proof. In any case it is pretty obvious that it did not happen as stated in the bible. There are just too many inconsistencies with the natural world.

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