Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Death of legitimacy? Perhaps. MACMILLAN, I'm looking at you.

So! Who's heard of Macmillan's newest and coolest thing? It's called DynamicBooks! And it may or may not be a completely horrible idea.

DynamicBooks is a software put out by publishing magnate Macmillan that allows professors and teachers to basically rewrite textbooks. It is quite brilliant to allow them to delete one chapter, add syllabi, etc, but where does it cross a line? I think I can tell you that one.

Professors can completely rewrite phrases, sentences, paragraphs, whole pages. Whatever the hell they want. Without consulting anyone about it.

Here, let me quote Brian Napack, president of Macmillan: "Basically they will go online, log on to the authoring tool, have the content right there and make whatever changes they want.... And we don’t even look at it."

Um, what?

So let me sum it up. Your children could be reading something that their teachers COMPLETELY MADE UP and pass it off as being in a textbook. Granted, most professors have integrity and would not do that, but there are definitely some that are a little off their rockers out there in the great wide world.

The publisher still has the right and ability to remove anything offensive or any plagiarism, but they completely rely on their consumers to alert them to the problems.

I will admit that there are many pros to this setup here, but I think the possibilities for failure are far too many and too dire for me to want to support something like this. I don't like it when random people can take licenses with other people's work. Write your own damn textbook if you want it to say something different.

Read the New York Times article on it here.