[booksandbeyond] 13 questions Jim Fruchterman

  • From: "Nancy J. Lynn" <freespirit52@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <"Undisclosed-Recipient:;"@freelists.org>
  • Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2007 13:12:38 -0500

Jim Fruchterman 13 Questions: Jim Fruchterman 24
October 2007 Social entrepreneur, self confessed
geek and all round nice guy, Jim Fruchterman, is
pretty darn incredible. Not only does he help
human rights organisations, and provide
technology solutions for those working at
irradicating landmines, but he's a bit of a
legend in the eyes of blind and visually impaired
people as well. Fruchterman invented the
well-known Open Book reading access machines,
using technology originally meant for the
military, and is also the founder of
Bookshare.org. This is a massive, not for profit,
web-based library of downloadable accessible
eBooks, made legally available to blind and
visually impaired people. Until recently, this
resource could only be accessed in the US, but
it's now happily snaking it's way around the
world - bit by bit. To celebrate the welcome news
that Bookshare.org.uk was launched in the United
Kingdom this month, we asked Jim Fruchterman the
all important 13 Questions. Uppermost in my mind
today is ... The fact that we have just received
an injection of 32 million dollars from the
government, to make Bookshare available free to
all students in the US. I want to reach hundreds
of thousands, rather than thousands, and we would
like to quadruple the rate at which books are
added to the collection. People think I'm ... Jim
Fruchterman with Bill Clinton A geek. Because I
really love technology and what it can do. I get
excited when I figure something out and can
understand how to solve a problem. Not a lot of
people know that I ... ... am a football referee,
as in soccer, for teenagers. I used to play in
high school and college, then my kids went
through the sports programmes. They're out of it
now but I still really enjoy it. The best piece
of advice I would pass on is ... That the
distance between where you are now, and
accomplishing grate things, is less than you
think. When I was a student at university, I
dropped out to start up a rocket company. It was
amazing to me how, as a kid, I could be at the
leading edge of a field within months. Not
knowing how high the barriers are is a good
thing. I struggle with ... Finding time to write.
I want to write a book, and have lots of articles
and essays in my head, but I got up at 4.45 this
morning to write, spent 3 hours on email, and had
15 minutes left before going to the office. I
excel at ... Seeing big picture technical
solutions. It's one of my favourite things to do.
I listen to people, find out what they need and
the technology falls into place. With Bookshare,
I learned about how Napster worked, and I already
knew about the frustrations blind users were
having with scanning books. Then it all came in a
quick little rush. We had the nuts and bolts in
place within 3 or 4 months. My ideal dinner guest
is ... Richard Fineman, a Nobel Laureate in
physics. He's dead now, but was my professor at
California Institute of Technology. He worked on
the atomic bomb project in world war II and wrote
a description of nanotechnology in 1959, 40 years
before it was invented. He also told jokes, took
part in college musicals, and hung out in Rio for
months on end. I met my wife while taking part in
a college musical. I hope the conversation would
range from art, to music, to science and
technology, to saving the world. Jim Fruchterman
I couldn't live without ... My computer. I'm on
it all the time, and I live by email. I like my
cell phone but don't like emailing on it. I am a
book lover, but prefer portable solutions rather
than the PC. Blind users agree with that, and
Bookshare is always looking for solutions. People
should be able to read on their phone. Poorer
people have cell phones, and wouldn't have to buy
extra equipment. If I didn't live in the US, I'd
live in ... New Zealand. It's really gorgeous,
and there is great food and wine there. It's got
the same elements as California, with different
scenery. My first job was ... As a key puncher
way back in the days when computers ran on
Hollerith cards. It was like using a glorified
typewriter. We punched holes in cards and
computers could read them. There were 40 women
and 2 guys. I learned a lot that summer. When I
come home in the evenings, I ... Open the mail,
open a good bottle of wine, and have dinner with
my family. I have breakfast with my family too.
Success is: Making a measurable positive impact
on the lives of millions of people. I'm only in
the hundred thousands. The future of reading for
visually impaired people is All content
everywhere, in an accessible format, at an
accessible price or free. . For more information
on all of Jim Fruchterman's endeavours, check out
Benetech.org , and be sure to have a look at the brand new Bookshare.org.uk

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