Converting to wiki format just got easier

A very important task that the Appropedia community is taking on is converting valuable documents to wiki format, to make it part of the structured knowledge bank we’re building.

An key tool for this is wikEd, which can be used (by those with a Firefox browser) to convert formatted text to wiki markup.  And now there’s an even easier way to use it:  Just use the conversion box at Wikedbox. Paste in the formatted text, and press the “wikify” button above, which looks like this:  [w].  Voila – you now have wiki markup. Mostly it works very well, and saves a heap of time.

For more detail, see Using wikEd to convert formatted text to wiki markup.

Note that this isn’t enough to handle PDFs – we’re looking for people with access to Adobe Reader Pro who can help us with the first step (simple,  but you need the software) of converting PDF documents to HTML plus images.

Community blog

I often find myself bursting with an idea and wanting to blog, but hesitant to blog here, where it looks somewhat “official.” I have my own blog (here), but I’ve wanted to have a space for the community to bat ideas around, if for some reason they want to do it as a blog rather than a wiki page.

So here it is, on LJ: Appropedia Community.

Check it out, and if you’re interested in contributing, then join the community and get in touch!

Swales… but first, a request for tech support

Another apology – blog feed still broken. Trying all the instructions we’ve found, but nothing seems to work. Any WordPress gurus want to help us out?

If not… then a change of topic: Check out this article on Swales, a great form of water management and specifically Groundwater recharge. A simple design, popular in the permaculture approach to protecting and enhancing the water cycle.

Improved navigation

We’re working on ways to improve navigation in the wiki.

One of our challenges is that on any given topic we have many pages – howtos, project pages, designs, organization and collaboration, as well as subtopics, and more. Wikis have category pages, but they’re normally only used by hardcore wiki geeks. How do we make them friendlier? And how do we point people to browse the categories?

Here’s an early attempt. On the topic page for Permaculture is a notice that says:


Browse this topic’s subtopics, howtos, project pages, designs, organization pages and more at the Permaculture category.

and on the category page is a longer notice:

Permaculture is a form of whole systems design based on the sustainability of natural systems, seeking to reproduce that sustainability in our living environment.Read more about this topic at Permaculture.

Browse this category’s subtopics, howtos, project pages, designs, organization pages and more below.


There’s more to be done, and much work to do – especially portal pages, like our Appropriate technology portal.

What do you think?

Permaculture wiki, and an update

Update: I want to apologize to everyone who’s frustrated with our broken blog feed. We’ve been given pointers on how to fix it, but since we don’t actually have a tech team (anyone like to help?)  I need to dig in and fix this myself, and… I haven’t got it done yet. But it’s there on the to-do list. Now onto more interesting things.

Permaculture: Plug “permaculture” and “wiki” into a search engine and you’ll get a bunch of hits. Most of them will be pretty empty – inactive, spammed or dormant sites. So what about the dream of creating a freely accessible and usable permaculture manual for the world, for rich and poor alike? It lives.

This collaborative work on a permaculture resource is happening on Appropedia, these days. This is by far the most active site for permaculture topics, as far as I can tell, and I’ve spend some hours scouring the internet. So I’ve started a page to invite collaboration: Permaculture wiki. Check it out, and since it’s a wiki your perspectives are welcomed.

Btw, tech people: if you’re a WordPress wizard and want to help, let us know. And we’re also looking for someone who can pretty up the skin on the wiki…

http://www.appropedia.org/Permaculture

Humboldt Sustainable Future

Humboldt Sustainability Future: Energy – clean, secure; Waste – no such thing, mottainai; Transport – safe, fun, connected; Food – abundant, salubrious; Water – celebrated; Habitat – thriving; Community – just, vibrant, respecting of diversity and heritage.

Last Wednesday, I had the honor of presenting on the future of Humboldt (Northern California) Sustainability for the Humboldt Bay Center for Sustainable Living and the Redwood Coast Energy Authority. The presentation was part of a growing movement of community wide sustainability and hopes to catalyze a series of large-scale open space technology style meetings.

This clip starts a few minutes into the presentation, just after I describe that the presentation was made with the help of many local and over-the-internet colleagues. Click the info button to access the introduction (part 1).


Thanks to StreamGuys for providing excellent streaming services.

Humboldt Sustainable Future

Humboldt Sustainability Future: Energy – clean, secure; Waste – no such thing, mottainai; Transport – safe, fun, connected; Food – abundant, salubrious; Water – celebrated; Habitat – thriving; Community – just, vibrant, respecting of diversity and heritage.

Last Wednesday, I had the honor of presenting on the future of Humboldt (Northern California) Sustainability for the Humboldt Bay Center for Sustainable Living and the Redwood Coast Energy Authority. The presentation was part of a growing movement of community wide sustainability and hopes to catalyze a series of large-scale open space technology style meetings.

This clip starts a few minutes into the presentation, just after I describe that the presentation was made with the help of many local and over-the-internet colleagues. Click the info button to access the introduction (part 1).


Thanks to StreamGuys for providing excellent streaming services.

Peer to Peer University – open for business

The Peer to Peer University (P2PU) is open for enrollments now, until August 26, starting with seven 6-week courses:

The difference between P2PU and other online learning projects is that P2PU doesn’t focus on creating new course material – rather, it uses the materials that are already out there, and facilitates the learning process.

Learning will take place in small groups of 8-14 students. P2PU blurs the boundaries between students and teachers. Volunteers step forward to create course outlines and facilitate the course work. In some cases they may be experts in the field, and in others, they may rely on input and advice from others who have expert knowledge. – About P2PU

See also my interview with Stian Håklev, one of the founders of P2PU.

Open knowledge in development – conversations start

The Open Knowledge Foundation has launched a new mailing list for open knowledge in development. Jonathan Gray writes:

We encourage you to join – whether you’re interested in:

  • visually representing development related open data (a la OKF Advisory Board member Hans Rosling)
  • sharing development information or making it easier to find and re-use (a la Aidinfo or PublishWhatYouFund)
  • sharing practical information for development, e.g. on sanitation or construction (a la Appropedia or Akvo)
  • open textbooks and open resources for education in developing countries
  • or in any other open knowledge thats related to development!

The full post is on their blog: New mailing list for open knowledge in development

Edit: Note the new Appropedia wiki page, Open aid and development.

Joining the Commons: Appropedia switches licenses

The open license we use is central to what we do. Open knowledge can empower development, sustainability, appropriate technology, emergency management and all manner of progress. This means understanding what an open license is – giving freedom for all kinds of reuse and remixing, not restricting commercial use. This is the kind of license we have always used, as have Wikipedia, other Wikimedia projects and many other wikis – and the particular license that we have used is the GFDL, or GNU Free Document License, managed by the pioneering organization (some might say radical) the Free Software Foundation.

However, the GFDL was intended for software manuals, not for wikis – it’s good, but not quite the right tool for the job. The good news is that it’s now possible for a wiki site to convert its license from GFDL to a more suitable license – the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0. This has essentially the same freedoms is the GFDL, but also:

  • Is more practical for making printed works (you can reference the license rather than printing the whole thing);
  • Has a useful “human readable” summary (at the page linked above);
  • Has a “mark”, a linked image such as the one you see at the bottom of this page, which helps readers know what permissions they’ve been given, and helps search engines to index pages by permissions;
  • Is used by many bloggers and other creators of online works, meaning we can share with these more easily.

We in the Appropedia Foundation have been reading, weighing our options, asking questions and listening. It seems clear that the best course is licence migration to CC-BY-SA-3.0, so we are not delaying any longer. We’ve set the 21st of April as the day to convert to the Creative Commons License. This final week is your opportunity to give feedback and insights. We strongly believe this is the right course of action, but you can consider this as a case of “Speak now or forever hold your peace.”

(Okay – we wouldn’t tell someone to keep their mouth shut forever, but this really is a major decision, and it’s hard to imagine turning back once we’ve switched.)

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Btw, if you have a WordPress blog, like we do, there’s an easy way to add a Creative Commons mark in the footer: the creative commons license widget – that page says it’s only tested up to WordPress 2.5, but it seems to be working on version 2.71 without problems.