Appropriate Technology Wiki

People around the world are working on appropriate technology. Most of them don’t know each other – aren’t aware of others with knowledge that might inform their own work. Connecting these people and this knowledge is what we had in mind when we started this Appropriate Technology Wiki almost 3 years ago.

“Appropriate Technology Wiki” is one way of describing Appropedia – it could also be called a sustainability wiki, an international development wiki, public health wiki, a wiki for thrivability, for abundance, or many other things. But appropriate technology sums up so much: the right solution for the context, relying on ingenuity,  efficiency and awareness of the environment, rather than throwing resources at a problem.

By this definition, are you working on appropriate technology? Do you want to see a comprehensive resource, a guide to solutions? Join us: Use Appropedia, contribute to it, and make sure appropriate technologists around the world know about it. And leave a comment to let us know how it’s helping you.

Search Appropedia with one click: handy bookmarklets

If you can add to or improve these instructions, or want to see the most up to date version, go to Search bookmarklets on the Appropedia wiki.

Highlight text on a web page, click a button on your bookmarks toolbar, and perform a search for that term on Appropedia. Sound handy? Here’s how you make the button (I’m using Firefox, but I think it will work similarly on other browsers):

  1. Copy the following code to your clipboard (i.e. highlight and press ctrl c):
  2. Right click on an empty space on your bookmark. (If there is no empty space, there should be a “>>” symbol at the right end of the bar. Rightclick this.)
  3. Choose “New Bookmark” and enter a name such as “Appropedia”. (I use “Ap” so it uses less space.)
  4. Paste the code from clipboard (ctrl v) into the “Location” field.
  5. Click the “Add” button. This will create the button – if you wish, you can drag and drop to a different place on the toolbar.

I’d rather just give a links to drag and drop, but creating javascript links in WordPress or in MediaWiki is beyond me. If you know how, please help us out, so we could add this to the front page of the wiki, and put them in blog posts.

You can do the same thing with other wikis, e.g. this is the code for the French language Ekopedia:


And this is for Wikipedia:


Making your own bookmarklet

Or do you want another wiki or website? Easy – the following method has worked for any MediaWiki site I’ve tried. (It should work for most other sites as well, though you may have to adjust it a little.) Let’s take [Greenlivingpedia:|Greenlivingpedia] as an example. Just go to the site and search for something that you isn’t a page title in the wiki, such as qwerty. Then look at the url:

Just delete the search term (qwerty), and anything after it, giving you:

Now, in the original code for Appropedia, at the beginning of the post, replace the search term in the code (““) which is inside single quote marks, with the new site’s search url. Leave the single quote marks there, so you replace ‘’ with ‘’ – then just replace the “prompt” term in the code with something appropriate (e.g. just change Appropedia to Greenlivingpedia, so 'Appropedia%20keywords:' becomes 'Greenlivingpedia%20keywords:' ).

So, putting the changes in italics, you now have:


Hat tip: Geek to Live: Ten Must-Have Bookmarklets, by Gina Trapani, Oct 5 2005. This gave the code for the Wikipedia lookup bookmarklet.

How should we use original works on Appropedia?

I’ve been thinking about the way we use original content – content produced elsewhere, and copied to Appropedia. Organizations like Practical Action release their excellent content under an open license, and we use it while giving attribution, but how do we present it? We as a community (including me) haven’t been really clear in our own minds, and that results in the confusing and not-always-inviting messages on the pages of original material:


Original ported content
This page represents the original version of content ported from another source. The page has been protected to preserve this original content. Editable pages may include content from this page as long as attribution is given to the source


    The original content of this page, Water diversion (original), was taken, with permission for publication under the GNU-FDL, from “Beyond Dams”, authored by Elizabeth Brink of International Rivers Network (IRN) and Serena McClain and Steve Rothert of American Rivers (AR), and published by IRN and AR)

Now, we really want to invite people to edit this material, and Neil Noble from Practical Action tells me they would love to see contributions to their material as well. So how we make things more inviting?

For one thing, these notices need to specify either that the page is not open to editing (and point to an editable page) or they need to clearly invite edits. Putting the note at the bottom rather than the top will also make it less daunting.

But do we keep the original content somewhere in an unchanged state? I was leaning away from this, personally, but I’ve changed my mind. I’d like to propose the idea of flagged revisions and/or approved pages, e.g. “This page is approved by XYZ” (where XYZ is Practical Action, or Akvo, or an academic body from a particular university…) These original pages might be a good starting point or forerunner of those approved articles.

One thing we would never want to do though, is hide away the open edit pages. I would imagine that the open pages would be the “landing pages” and they might have a link on the top right, say, to an “approved” article. This priority is important, as Appropedia relies on the power of open content.

Blogging on the road to open

This is not the blog of the whole Appropedia community. Not yet.

We believe in openness, and the wiki is in the hands of the community -but opening up a regular blog for anyone in the community to blog, without wiki-style checks and balances, is a recipe for fluff and inaccuracy.

So this is the blog of the Appropedia Foundation, and we use it to support the community and the wiki. There are plans for frequent guest appearances, highlights from the wiki, and stories about the imact the wiki is having in the world.

But we must become less, so the community can become greater. Something like Enric Senabre’s Wlog, a wiki based blog, would be a great way for us to blog as a community. I’m imagining it functioning something like Wikinews, with some kind of mechanism for drafting, improving and approving from within the community before publishing.

Just need to figure out how it works, and make the time to implement it.

15 days till OSNCamp.

Welcome to the Appropedia blog

This is the blog to accompany Appropedia, the wiki for solutions in the challenge of building rich, sustainable lives.

Follow our blog to understand how things work, and how we’re dealing with the challenges of a growing wiki expanding into new areas. Your contributions are very welcome – you can start contributing, let us know your questions (commenting here is one way). You can also keep watching here as we talk about how things work in this wiki world, and figure out where you fit in. (But we’d still love it if you dropped us a line.)

This was posted when we were still playing with the Drupal blog, before we switched to WordPress. So we’ll need to make another welcome, soon. – Chriswaterguy 23 Sep 2008