I was reading this article on Armed Services Editions of books distributed during World War 2, when I came across this extraordinary propaganda poster.
Original image is from The Boston Public Library on Flickr under CC BY NC.
What strikes me is how detailed the poster is. The power of the quote. The sheer neutrality of the sentiment. Books - any book is a weapon. Whether it is The Communist Manifesto or Atlas Shrugged. Imagine a Kindle full of books placed into the hands of a child. If all those books were in the same vein, it would be very easy to distort their world view.
And I think that's the key. It is books - plural - which act as weapons. Like any gun, sword, or fist, they can be wielded by either side.
I think the OLPC is a magnificent product. But what happens if we distribute a (ruggedised) eBook reader to children around the world? That's what Worldreader is aiming to do. Taking eReaders around the world. No longer are people restricted to the handful of books they may have nearby. No longer having to choose between travelling to a library or travelling to work. A lifetime of books on every device. With mobile phone coverage increasing around the world, access to every book ever written.
Of course, there's nothing to stop people reading Mein Kampf. Nothing to stop them reading Harry Potter. We just have to trust that, in this war of ideas, the ideals of peace, justice and liberty, are more powerful than the alternatives.
I've submitted this to the Kindle Wallpapers blog. You can download it by clicking on the preview above.