A CD-ROM can hold a lot of data; 650 megabytes is plenty of space to hold an entire education, if the space is used wisely. An entire liberal education could be placed on one disc.

This is a “desert island” kind of problem. Suppose you were stranded on a deserted island with only a cheesy solar-powered plain-text reader and one CD. What would be on the CD?


  • The student is literate (8th-grade education?)
  • This is an English-language education. (Though some foreign-language material will be included.)
  • It should be possible to master this material without a teacher.

Challenge I: The ASCII Canon

This entire program is verbal. This makes the material applicable to many students (including the blind and deaf) and it can be reproduced in many media.

  • Verbal instructions for creating simple line drawings are in a language suitable for automation.
  • A combination of Wikipedia and ETexts from Project Geutenberg might make a good start.
  • The use of ASCII art is very limited.
  • Use a very limited wiki syntax system.
  • 8.3 filenames and no directories?

Let's start with the reading list from the St. John's College curriculum. Project Gutenberg has a CD-ISO creator available. It may help to get an index of all their books.

Wikipedia has a list of good articles, and one of vital articles. They are also planning a cd elease. However, these include images.

Challenge II: Multimedia Support

  • One music CD

Personal Tools