Kudos for Kindle

I just finished watching Jeff Bezos on Charlie Rose. He was introducing the world to Kindle (named so because kindle starts fires – love the analogy), which holds about 200 books. Amazon has 90,000 books, newspapers, and other print media already available for use with Kindle. It weighs 10 ounces. What was even more impressive was Bezos’ vision for the future of his product. Within 5 to 10 years, he dreams of making every book that was ever printed in the history of mankind to be available for immediate viewing within 60 seconds. In other words, the entire literary history will be available for anyone, anywhere, within 60 seconds. Amazing to think where we will be in the next 10 years with visionaries and flatteners like him.

What I loved most about his time on Charlie Rose was his explanation of what the world will be like as the Internet and Web 2.0 grow. For example, the future for writers. Bezos says that writers will become more serial; we, as consumers, will soon subscribe to a writer and the writer can, in turn, send out his/her latest writing to subscribers who pay a small fee. Just think of that! No more books, just a vast sea of potential readers who can have your literature (or articles) within seconds of completion.

He also believes we are only in the beginning of a true revolution (I agree) and that we have not yet begun to dream of what the net will do for humanity. Just think, Kindle will already save paper, expands your personal library, and makes your literature portable. Can’t wait to get one.

Bezos made a few poignant points about business and life. I think it can directly apply to us in education. (1) He says that we must find out what the customer needs and loves and deliver it as cheaply, swiftly, and with great care and quality. Amazon.com was built on this premise. What if we thought the same about our schools? Our communities are our customers and we must deliver what they expect (I am speaking in terms of technology). (2) He also believes that one thing that has made Amazon so successful is the time and dedication they devote to seeing what the world outside of their company looks like. Bezos, himself, takes three days every financial quarter and locks himself away from the world and surfs the net to see what is happening out there – what new ideas, new thoughts, and new innovations are being developed and born? I wish we did more of that as schools. And (3) I think his best and most important point was the idea that Amazon has begun to think differently about traditional business operations. He no longer sees it viable for a business (read:education) to do business as usual in a world that is becoming so unusual. He invites his competition to come onto Amazon and sell their products – it’s like he allows them to set up kiosks in his “mall” of Amazon.com. He brings them in not to rule them, but because it is good for customers. They have choice, he promotes choice and opportunity. That’s the bottom line.

What if we in education thought the same way? What if we opened ourselves up for reinvention and new thinking other than the traditional? I know I am preaching to the choir here, but can anyone else see the potential for Bezos’ theories to really transform education? The Kindle alone may be our vehicle for textbooks (see my last post). Good night everyone. Dream… dream… dream…

Author: Michael Parent, Ed.D

Father, husband, school administrator in NJ. "Education cures poverty".

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