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Appropedia:Meaning of the name Appropedia

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The name Appropedia is a portmanteau of appropriate (fitting in situation), apropos (fitting in time)[1] and encyclopedia (a collected and disseminated body of knowledge).


These are some of the ideas that the name brings to mind (not a dogma, just associations):

  • "Appropriate" in particular means "appropriate within a culture" which helps make a practice or technology get adopted and be sustained in the community. Sustainability doesn't just mean environmentally sustainable, or economically sustainable, but culturally sustainable as well.
  • Thus "appropriate practices" and "appropriate development"
  • "-pedia" suggests encyclopedia. Not in the very clearly limited sense of Wikipedia, but in the sense of a comprehensive knowledge resource, written collectively, on a broad range of subjects.

Controversy[edit]

Some people do not like the name because it engenders a sense that Appropedia is solely an Appropriate Technology wiki. This incurs a few issues:

  1. Appropedia is defined much more broadly than just appropriate technology.
    1. Counterpoint: Appropedia can be considered a site about appropriate development, which includes appropriate technology, and suggests treading lightly on the earth and being sensitive to context. This site is a resource to enable people to find what is appropriate for their needs, rather than follow the beaten path of development through simple old-style growth and consumption, or any other "solution".[2] Although Appropedia is widely perceived as an appropriate technology wiki, this is at least as much about the focus of current content - the fact that this is the area where most of the best work has been done so far.
  2. Appropriate Technology is a widely known phrase but not universally accepted, and its merits as a term are often debated by development workers.
    1. What are the objections? Is it considered paternalistic?[3]
    2. If it's about paternalism, this seems to assume that the "appropriateness" is being determined by "someone else" i.e. a development worker or someone else in a position of power. This is not always the case, and is the opposite of our vision of helping to empower.
    3. Paternalism is less about words and more about actions. While we should choose the best words, it's not something to spend too much energy on.[4]

Notes[edit]

  1. Accordingly http://apropedia.com (with one p) directs to http://appropedia.org
  2. Comment: I tend to use the expression "appropriate development" when describing the site in conversation, and I'm comfortable with this. --Chriswaterguy
  3. All I could find was a tweet that claimed this - very light evidence. (That person was also a bit ambivalent.)
  4. E.g. international agencies have become sensitive to concerns about development principles such as transparency, community participation in development, and empowerment; but it is widely regarded that their practices lag behind their stated principles. {This is based on my reading, and on conversations with development workers and activists.) This is to be expected; however they'll be judged by their actions, and only judged the more harshly if they used highly progressive language. Sorry for rambling... this can be moved to a topic page later. :-) --Chriswaterguy

See also[edit]