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 | edit source]

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:

  • Appropedia is defined much more broadly than just appropriate technology.
    • 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.
  • Appropriate Technology is a widely known phrase but not universally accepted, and its merits as a term are often debated by development workers.
    • What are the objections? Is it considered paternalistic?[3]
    • 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.
    • 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 | edit source]

  1. Accordingly (with one p) directs to
  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 | edit source]

Discussion[View | Edit]

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies.