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The 10£ ($20) DIY Solar E-Book Reader

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What is an Illumination book? Here’s one: the Lightbook, the “other” OLPC.

Excerpts from the post:

“And it needs no costly infrastructure to support it. It will never need to be upgraded or updated — the twenty or so Illumination books created between 1990 and 1994 are still perfectly readable today. It will rely on nobody except ourselves, its makers, who will also have set up the truly massive, world-wide, multicultural, international publishing house which will supply it with reading material.”

One thing is now clear to me, in any case. The solar powered e-book reading device which we have re-christened the Lightbook is not a computer, any more than a pocket calculator or a portable phone or indeed an electric toothbrush or a gas cooker is a computer.I make the point light-heartedly and even nonsensically, here. But to persist in even looking at the Lightbook as though it were a ‘computer’ is not merely to miss the point but, damagingly, to adopt a mind-set in which yes, of course, it’s an inferior, a ‘pared-down’ version of something which it isn’t and was never intended to be.

It will consume about a fifth of a watt in power while reading the pages of a book out of a (physically tiny) memory bank and placing the corresponding data as pixels in colour on a screen. If that screen is backlit — which for much of the time it need not be — then overall power consumption might rise temporarily to around one watt.

The Lightbook reads books of all kinds, of any genre from novels or textbooks through children’s story books to full-scale, wholly pictorial comic books, in colour, in any language and using its own typefaces and layouts. Its own proprietary page format — to be issued, and taught, free of charge to any user who wants it — is called “Illumination” and has been in (error-free) existence for twenty years now….” [full post here]

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