Friday, August 3, 2007

Books for "new" Audiences

I'm writing a short response to an article i saw on slashdot:

Danica McKellar, a television star, has written a mathematics textbook aimed squarely at teenage girls. Some people may think that this effort is wasted, or that it is sexist, but I think it's brilliant. Traditionally, mathematics and the sciences has been a domain for men, and few girls pursue studies in these areas. A big part of it is that young women are simply never exposed to math and sciences, and never develop an interest. If we look at the numbers of women who graduate from college in these areas (mathematics, science, engineering), the numbers will prove the point: the overwhelming number of graduates in these areas are male.

Part of a good book is a focus on the target audience. While many of our books are very generic and tend to focus on the "traditional" audiences, some of them have taken steps to focus their attention on others. Mostly this comes in the form of trying to take information that is typically intended for one audience, and present it to a new audience. Some good examples of this are [[Algebra I in Simple English]], [[Geometry for elementary school]], and Wikijunior's [[World War II]]. These, of course, are all attempts to focus material at readers who are younger then the traditional audience, not necessarily attempts to present information at a different group entirely.

Math and science books written for young girls would be a great start in making the intellectual playing field much more even. Even this one idea is not enough, Wikibooks is always searching for intrepid authors who are willing to present old information in new ways. Some of our books are very traditional, but we are also starting to see many new books created that are far from it. It's a trend that I hope will continue.

No comments:

Post a Comment