The Molecular Workbench and When a Book Becomes an App

Two thought-provoking pieces from Mark Guzdial's blog (again):
  1. The Molecular Workbench: "...is not just a collection of simulations–do not be deceived by first glance. While it presents many existing simulations that are ready to use in classroom, it is, however, also a modeling tool for teachers and students to create their own simulations and share them with collaborators. There are very sophisticated modeling capacities hidden behind its simple user interface that empower you to create new simulations and even explore the unknowns." Given more resources, I'd love to do something like this for Software Carpentry (and for programming in general).
  2. The Future of Tablet Textbooks: "[Apple] thinks...that the first iPad-based textbooks are going to come out as apps... But...Apple would prefer to have textbooks come out as EPUB books... [Because] EPUB books can be distributed through Apple's iTunesU channel in the iTunes store...Apps are much more tightly controlled, e.g., they have to be checked for memory leaks and proper behavior (expensive!), and they have to be signed and distributed carefully to make sure that what the customer gets is what the publisher delivered (and what Apple vetted). Apple doesn't want to have to vet textbooks... I think Apple doesn't see the problem as I do. When textbooks have the capability of rich textbooks, what makes them different from an App anyway? Couldn't they misbehave in the same ways as errant apps?"
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