From 19 – 27 May 2010, Groundviews ran a special edition on the end of war in Sri Lanka. Over this week alone, the site received over forty-thousand readers and exclusively featured over eighty-thousand words of original content, one video premiere, over a dozen photos, generating over one hundred and fifty-thousand words of commentary.
By popular request, The End of War in Sri Lanka: Reflections and Challenges, a compilation of content that appeared online in PDF form, was first released in May 2010. In mid-2010, it was published in print form. Today, we are relaunching the book as a free iBook on Apple iTunes. It is available as a direct download in 32 countries and regions, and readable on both the iPad 1 and 2 using iBooks. Ironically, Apple’s Sri Lankan iTunes store does not list the book, but you can easily download it to your Mac or PC using this link (138Mb iBook). Once downloaded, importing it to iTunes and synchronising it with your iPad is a cinch, and takes just a few seconds.
In his review of the book, Prof. Sasanka Perera, Professor of Anthropology and Head, Department of Sociology, University of Colombo, noted:
Therefore the pieces contained traverse a wide terrain that includes the rational, clinical, accommodating, hopeful, hope-less, post war scenarios of the future, politics of diasporas and so on… To me, that variation is the reality of our post war existence. Our experience is not linear; our perceptions not black and white across the board; our take on the past and the future not a monolithic reality. What is unfortunate is that the reality of this variation has not emerged in the popular and the dominant discourse on war, conflict and peace in the country.
Another review by Channa Wickremesekera, a military historian and novelist based in Melbourne Australia noted,
The most cursory glance at some of the websites that showcases opinions from those whose first language is truly Sinhalese will show that it is still the Wimal Weerawansa’s rather than Kalana Senaratne’s who make opinions of Sri Lankans, even in cyberspace. They are still dancing the victory dance, expecting the Tamil in the room to join in singing Sinhala bailas or to leave the room altogether… Groundviews, I am sure, has no pretensions to having the power to shift heaven and earth which is what, it appears at times, is required to change the direction the country is heading in. Yet, despite that seeming impotence, the collection of articles also presents a pleasing prospect. It shows that there are still at least a few of us who recognise that the end of the war has not ended the conflict as long as we do not deal with the Tamil in the room, fairly and justly. It may make a few other decent people stop and think, even feel. That would be a modest victory but a victory nevertheless.
The new iBooks edition of the book takes over 40 contributions, including high definition video and high resolution photography, and beautifully presents them on the iPad. Content automatically resizes for orientation, presenting text in a clear, crisp format. Photos by Aufidius, Deshan Tennekoon, Sharni Jayawardene and others can be viewed as thumbnails, and pop out in high resolution. Alongside the article by its producers who were the first to visit the Vanni after the end of the war, the trailer of the award winning documentary The Truth That Wasn’t There plays in high definition. iBooks on the iPad also offers the ability to annotate the text and easily email these notes (which Apple calls study cards). When connected to the Internet, each article has a link to access the online version, with all the comments generated still archived.
It is quite simply a new way to engage with content, and Groundviews is pleased to offer, for free, a book that is of enduring value to scholars, historians, political scientists and the average reader. Using poetry, prose, photography and video, The End of War in Sri Lanka: Reflections and Challenges for the iPad demonstrates the potential not just of the device and Apple’s iBook Author to bring content alive, but also the power of new media to present inconvenient truths in a compelling manner.