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I think there are two potential types of tool being considered:
- A wiki structured around inputs and outputs, that this page talks about.
- A more focussed design tool that would allow greater interactivity and planning, that is described in more detail at http://opensourceecology.org/wiki/Open_source_software_for_permaculture.
My feeling is that Appropedia is fine for the former, but would be hard to do with the latter, which suggests a more specific web app/tool to me. That's where the richer APIs of Freebase or something like that could be more advantageous. Pmackay
- Thanks. I'm kind of agnostic on this specific question, but my real interest is in the wiki. If we can have structured data (and we can) then that makes the wiki more awesome, while keeping all the strengths of a wiki, and the strength of an existing community. (It's disturbing at how often some new project comes along saying "Hey, here's an idea - let's build a permaculture wiki!" or something like that. And falls over because making a successful new wiki is harder than they realized.)
- I'd like to know specifically what you think might be richer in the Freebase API. That's not meant as a challenge - just wanting to understand. Putting my cards/inclinations on the table and looking for the next step in the analysis. --Chriswaterguy 09:14, 28 March 2012 (PDT)
- The Freebase API is pretty comprehensive in being able to query the graph structure of Freebase. I'm not sure I am yet able to say what might be richer, as if we are comparing with the SMW API I dont know enough about that to give a thorough analysis. The pages I've seen about those extensions suggest it is in an alpha state. My thoughts around this are more inclined towards the web tool side of it, something that can be much more dynamic and exploratory. Something more like http://www.growveg.com/. I feel there is lots of text about permaculture (I have a fair collection of books) but more could be done to make it condensed and easier to absorb, particularly for people who aren't permaculturists.
- Freebase also has a facility for defining links to other web resources about a topic in a structured way. Perhaps Freebase could be enhanced to include links where relevant to Appropedia topics. I've also thought about this for Plants For A Future entries. Pmackay 11:11, 28 March 2012 (PDT)
- IIUC, SMW is considered stable for small to medium wikis (including wikis much bigger than Appropedia) but isn't considered ready for prime time on Wikimedia sites (which range from big to gigantic).
- Who would you see using a Freebase permaculture tool? I'm thinking about how intelligible it would be to regular permaculture people with basic computer literacy - I don't know Freebase enough to judge. Another key question is who would join the project, and how the community would develop.
- I like the growveg.com concept. At a glance, I'm guessing it's a nicer looking and more graphical UI than SMW could be, & maybe nicer than Freebase.
- If we couldn't do the desired interface in SMW, maybe the API would enable a nice external UI to use the structured data from the wiki? --Chriswaterguy 11:56, 28 March 2012 (PDT)
- Just to clarify, I wouldnt consider Freebase itself to be a very usable interface, except for basic data entry and checking. Its designed to be a web front end for the database. The tool I'm imagining would need a custom interface to facilitate the kinds of interactions permaculturalists and others might need to do. So to your last point, my question is what API might best suit such a tool and what database/wiki might be best to build the information in :-) Pmackay 14:18, 28 March 2012 (PDT)
I'm wondering how far along the merging from permaculture.info got. I'm exploring around it a bit on Archive.org, and it looks like there's a lot of the content left to import. Would it be alright if started importing the pages? Is there a systematic way to go about this? I assume the markup will be about the same, since it uses MediaWiki. --Ethan (talk) 18:37, 6 April 2014 (PDT)
- Thanks Ethan!
- Update: We had problems with the old database files being corrupted, and volunteer developers not having time to resolve it. We've now got Alex (our new dev) working on this, as well as our merger with Ekopedia.org. I've just emailed her to ask where it is on the to-do list. If we can't recover it, then archive.org is definitely the way to go. Whatever way we do it, we'd love your help.
- How about we revisit this in a week? Thanks again. --Chriswaterguy (talk) 20:05, 6 April 2014 (PDT)
- Update: we've tried to get more up-to-date backups of the old Permaculture.info server, but it looks like there's nothing there. After we confirm this, Alex will see what can salvage from the files we have, and then I think it will be time to start salvaging pages from archive.org. --Chriswaterguy (talk) 19:08, 25 April 2014 (PDT)
Recovering old permaculture wiki pages from Archive.org
Unfortunately, it was impossible to get anything from the permaculture.info server. Now we run with Ethan's suggestion to recover some of the pages from archive.org (see the last successful archive of the main page). Who is interested in making this happen?
I suggest moving across anything with any lasting value, leaving behind anything to do with the organisation or admin on permaculture.info. (If anyone needs that info, it will still be there on archive.org.) [Edited to add: track pages added here. Instructions given on that page. --Chriswaterguy (talk) 15:56, 24 November 2014 (PST)
- I just saw your post on Permies the other day. I brought over a few pages, most notably Guild. Digging around a bit, there doesn't appear to be a whole lot on there. The bulk of articles appear to be individual plant profiles, derived from Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Great Lakes by Thomas A. Naegele. It's not clear to me what permission the admins had from the author to post them, and whether that could be extended to this wiki. If we do want to grab those, I suspect there's a more automated way we could go about that. The other articles such as Chickens will need a human to intelligently merge them into the existing articles here.
- I went ahead and made a basic template for articles from PC Info: Template:PermacultureInfo . I think that's a decent way to give credit.
It's becoming clear to me that PCinfo's strength was not its content, but its organization. The site founders built a very thorough, unparalleled frame-work which never got fleshed out. There were some Ecoregion categories (based on: http://www.worldwildlife.org/science/wildfinder/) which included PC sites, but could have been expanded to include species' native/ introduced ranges. There was a fairly comprehensive selection of empty pages about different soil types (can't find a URL just now). They also made some creative use of namespace. I made up an organization scheme on my user page based on this one: https://web.archive.org/web/20070811064704/http://www.permaculture.info/index.php/PIW:Pagetype . Some or all of the above might be incorporated into Appropedia's organization scheme, but in the short term I just want a visual map to see what kinds of content is lacking here. --Ethan (talk) 13:32, 13 May 2015 (PDT)
- It's as finished as it's likely ever to be. There were a bunch of good articles brought over, but the majority of available articles were not imported due to copyright issues. There were about 20 articles about organizations which just contained copied-and-pasted text from the organizations' websites. There were also about 50 articles on plant species which were derived from Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Great Lakes Region by D.O. Thomas A. Naegele. I tried to get in contact with Dr. Naegele to see if Permaculture.info got permission to use his material, and whether we would be able to have that permission as well. I received no response. There were also a few one-line articles pointing to online resources and books. Not really worthy of independent articles as they were, but I might incorporate them in something like the Podcasts list. --Ethan (talk) 04:35, 6 October 2015 (PDT)
PERMACULTURE MEETS DIGITAL INFORMATION DYNAMICS
(the below copied from a post to the international permaculture list raises many of the issues around designing and developing this wiki into a strong and coherent and most importantly useful permaculture resource. It would be great to have some discussion of this on the talk pages)
>Rich wrote: > >If I were to implement this, I'd just use an off the shelf wiki, and >write a documentation convention for how to format a page. Say > >This would need very little setting up, it could be done in a day. >It would meet the need of most users, who basically just want to read >things. > >
Rich's comments are compelling. I am not sure we have yet described a cohesive cyber-animal. I think we could examine this from the existing 'permawiki' as a point of reference. It is a valid attempt to create a conceptual network. What functions does it serve or not serve? (http://permaculture.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page) Is it evolving as envisioned or hoped?
I think the colaborative writing opportunities in a wiki are very powerful. What I mistrust is that the overall structure of the wiki lacks form. In other words... the whole is less than the sum of its parts. However, I am not convinced that a step up in complexity is necessary, but rather a better organization of the wiki concept may serve the purpose.
I'd propose that this is due to to flaws: the 'pages' of a wiki are not classifiable, nor are the ways that wikis connect with each other clearly classified.
Christopher Alexander's Pattern Language stands out as a stellar example of a dynamic user-engaging presentation of complex design theory. If something of that power could be constructed for a permaculture we would be on to something. Why does it work so well?
The structure of each "Alexander Pattern" is fairly constant. The pattern is connected to larger scale patterns, an argument for the importance of the pattern is made, the argument is discussed, the critical characteristics of the proposed pattern are summarized, and the pattern is linked to the most relevant smaller scale patterns. Rich's reference to a documentation convention may be a solution.
Each Alexander pattern is roughly located on a 'scale' axis -- from large scale patterns to small scale patterns. Wikis are not organized along some critical axis in this way. Can a category be assigned to a wiki page along a scale continuum (landscape > Site > guild), and this axis be used to organize total content?
Each Alexander Pattern is the same kind of animal... it is a pattern describing a spatial arrangement of an element or elements. Permawiki contains a whole zoo full of animals -- some oink and some fly. Some of them could qualify as 'design elements' (CHICKEN or FRUIT TREE) while others are concepts (ZONES or KEYLINE) while others are actual design patterns (HERB SPIRAL or APPLE GUILD). Can a wiki either be narrowed to one type of page, or have pages labeled so that they can be observed in groups of similar pages.. A network of concepts, a network of design patterns...
The linkages between these each 'wiki' are only defined by the text surrounding the hyperlinked word. There is no convention for how concept/elements link to eachother. Structuring the discussion of how on pattern relates to another may be the critical link.
Here'd be my list of goals for a permaculture wiki:
- The wiki helps a person identify interactions between elements to
develop new and unique patterns. This can happen at various scales... linking systems accross a landscape, or elements within a site, or guilds within a vegetation mosaic.
- The wiki allows a person to change scale or stay within the same scale
consciously, and stay on topic. If the reader is interested in reflecting on concepts, they can follow that path.. if they are deadset on thinking about constructing guilds they can wander at that level.
- the wiki references high-quality sources of information, but does not
attempt to contain all information within itself - the function of the wiki is to describe linkages between elements, and design solutions that integrate multiple linkages. Public domain PDF's could be linked within the server.
- wiki pages would be peer reviewed, and elevated as 'high quality
drafts -- the whole wiki could be publishable as a PDF edition by using consistent formating and large scale information structures.
- In terms of A wiki page should be as short as possible while serving
the function on fitting the concept, pattern or element into the whole. I once had a professor who always gave us profound essay questions and then limited the response to two pages double spaced 12 point font. It was brutal, and took twice as long as spewing out 10 pages of text. To achieve this the function of an information unit (a wiki page) has to be clear as possible.