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By NBF News
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It is the biggest battle of the books ever; a battle as much between Click and Bic as it is between Facebook and Handbook. Fortunately, some common ground on which the two warring factions can negotiate for peace has been provided by E-book. Whether you call it Electronic book or Exercise book, it is a book written by a man for his fellow man. I mean, a robot has never written a book and none has been written for it.

Contrary to popular belief, Information Technology (IT), specifically the Internet, has made man more literate.

Consequently, Facebook has become the most read book on earth, after the Holy Books. It has also become the most expensive. In October 2007 Microsoft valued it at $15 billion. No book is more expensive. Who is not reading and writing on Facebook? Parents now create the profiles of the newborn and the yet unborn for the world to see.  Once upon a time a pupil could not properly attach a postage stamp to an envelope containing a badly written letter. Now that same pupil can upload his pictures, create and update his profile and send and receive instant messages from family and friends online and real time. Now he can add as his friends the purest breed of English speakers and writers from anywhere in the Internet world.

That makes him a better language learner than his colleagues in isolated classrooms. 'As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.' PROVERB 27:17. That's the benefit of Facebook over Handbook.

But before Facebook could claim victory, Handbook evolved from Hardcover and Paperback into E-book. According to, an online bookseller, E-books sold 140 for every 100 Hardcovers in July 2010. Later in the same month, it increased to 180 E-books per 100 Hardcovers.

The above statistics ensured that Facebook did not run away with an easy victory. Handbook had realized that no reader has money enough to buy all the books he needs to read and that Facebook has become an appealing alternative over stacks of books and shelves that occupy space at home. So it solicited help form computer technology as Facebook had done. Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iPad and the rest came to its rescue with E-book readers. That's how Handbook reclaimed some of its readership. It evolved, changed, to save itself from imminent extermination at the hands of Facebook.

Though technology threatens the existence of paper, people are not. Even the most intelligent humanoid robot cannot read and write on our behalf. It is our art and for us alone. We must do it ourselves as William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens did it in their time but with more talent.

Unfortunately, poverty and fear are real threats to that adaptation, especially in developing countries. They are the biggest threats to complete computer compliance and the closing of the digital divide. Did anyone ever go to school to learn how to use a calculator or a phone? NO! Then why do so many of us go to school to learn how to click a mouse and press a keyboard? Software does the rest. Why must we prove our computer literacy when nobody proved his calculator or telephone literacy and when most of our phones and calculators are more complex and more difficult to use? Was there ever a time when calculator literacy was a prerequisite for gaining admission to a school? Yet students used calculators to solve mathematical problems. Why is there an uncontrollable proliferation of quack computer schools and their unqualified staff? The answer is poverty, period!

Ikenna G. Ikenna