Some notes on purpose and structure adapted from some initial emails between Lonny and Yamaplos. Yama please feel free to edit or wikify more.

A Third Area[edit source]

Hi I'm having a blast. This might be what I have been looking for for the last 15 years or so. Maybe I had to wait for wikis to develop... I will be very busy this month, but participating here might very easily become a main project of mine. What has become of the Whole Earth people? I would have expected they would be all over. Anyway, there is something very powerful in their "contributed by the community catalog" concept, I guess a wiki for that age. I believe we need to pursue that model in some way, I mean, allow a space for people to review a book / idea / concept as to their own experience with it. Only problem is that it requires some passion (opinions), which necesarily are not third-party. Maybe a third area? i.e., Topics, Projects, Resource Reviews. ?

oh well, we'll have time to deal with that at some moment

Thank you for starting this


The Four Areas[edit source]

Hi Yama,

I am so excited to have you involved.

I am definitely into the third area that you are discussing. My plans so far are to have four areas (hopefully namespaces):

Category Namespace
Textbook style entries, mostly from experts. Also serve as categories for the original research, projects and how-to's in the Article namespace.
Article Namespace
Original research, project writeups, how-to's (I would rather this be called Project Namespace, but with no need to preface pages with "project:").
User Namespace
Personal/organizational pages for networking
Working Namespace
Common working pages for relevant grants, events, calls for assistance, offerings of assistance, resource reviews, local and global where-to-find-supplies pages, etc.

I see the Category and Article Namespace working together as follows, for example the users can:

  1. Look up greywater
  2. Read about greywater concepts
  3. View case-studies, how-to's and common errors to avoid for various greywater projects
  4. Edit and add their own greywater experiences, projects, how-to's and common errors to avoid

or skip to any of these steps.

Thank you for prompting me to organize some of my thoughts in this email, I look very forward to talking with you again, -Lonny

Background, raison d'etre and reviews[edit source]

Thanks for your response. This is a bit of a sin, us following on this by email. I feel this should be a wiki kind of thing... :-) (this especially for others to add - please feel free to post/forward/wikify) Great Idea... here it is

I find your structure quite engaging. A major limitation of wikis has the need for a third-person expert approach. While this gives respectability and allows some of academia to treat us seriously, it closes the way for intuition, opinion, and seat-of-the-pants empiric observation, sometimes once-in-a-lifetime things that might be all that is left of a particular technique (think the Foxfire books - r u familiar with those? powerful AT stuff). bottom line, I support having a space for that sort of thing, which is clearly labeled as such, and allow for case studies.

Now, about Whole Earth, I feel old. My, a whole generation would either drool or cringe at the name... Steve Jobs described it this way: "When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation.... It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions." They were revolutionary in many ways, and what they did might be the first wiki ever. They painted themselves into a corner several times, like when another revolutionary concept, WELL ( didn't evolve outside of paid participation, effectively closing themselves off the rest of the world, or when Point Foundation (the umbrella organization behind it all) got into alternative lifestyles, and the Whole Earth Magazine hasn't had its web page updated since 2005. still has a lot of good stuff from them.

So If you don't know the WEC, get one - some libraries still have it. It was one of my first eBay buys when I got to the USA. It had a place of prominence in my reads during my back-to-the-earth days, between 1982 and 1999

Why see the WEC? because they've gone this way before, and made more mistakes trying to play the AT card than we want to. It's sort of learning from the (failed) masters how to do it (maybe) right.

One concept they had, very powerful, is these short reviews of a book, product or resource, where they seek opinion. It is definitely NOT the 3-rd person approach of standard wikidom, but that is what I would like us to have - separate from the main, serious/expert Articles area. They also have short quotes of the books, and pictures of the cover or of the tool being reviewed. Quoting appears to be disparaged in wikidom because it might cross copyright, yet standard copyright as a norm allows "short quotes used in reviews".

My Famous 3rd Area, now part of the Working area?

Reviews of books, products or resources. for what I have in mind, see the "Tips from the editor" and the "book and product review" paragraphs

All in all, I will become more involved in this, for two reasons, due to my discovering today that WEC is quite dead.

  1. WEC is dead, viva Appropedia
  2. the WEC did fill a need (even though its passing can also be a warning) - there is a niche to fill in the ecosystem now that it is gone.

The local supplies pages was something like what the Well was supposed to be. As mentioned, they didn't open up once the internet went free.

'nuf for now. I might put up a look-see sample of what I mean in one of my websites, I'll tell you about it


Wiki Earth Catalog[edit source]

No I was not familiar with the Foxfire books, and I was certainly not familiar with the death of the WEC. I noticed that it had been a while since they put out a new issue, but I just assumed that it was on the way. This is very sad news... but I appreciate your insight and optimism that the wiki format is fitting for the resurrection of the WEC concept.

I am very interested in reading about the WEC’s mistakes playing the AT card. For instance what do you think of the name of this site: appropedia? I have always been uneasy about the term “Appropriate Technology”, but as a coined term it serves an important service, seeming unfilled by most other alternative terms.

I would also be interested in hearing more about some of the WELL’s mistakes. I remember being turned off by the need for a paid subscription years ago, but I know that the WELL community was also quite strong and creative.

The "Tips from the editor" and the "book and product review" found at are very good. I wonder if there is someone to contact about using some of their language.

There are now some very young examples of supply pages at Humboldt CA Supplies and Global Supplies.

All in all, I will become more involved in this, for two reasons, due to my discovering
today that WEC is quite dead. 
1. WEC is dead, viva Appropedia 
2. the WEC did fill a need (even though its passing can also be a warning) - there is a niche
to fill in the ecosystem now that it is gone. 

Excellent! --Lonny

Low cost computers[edit source]


First a self-introduction. I'm newly registered here, though I've been watching it for some time. My main focus is appropriate technology stuff at Wikipedia, but Appropedia is a great complement to Wikipedia. Especially if it were to cover broader issues of development and sustainability - any objection to other material? E.g. My masters thesis was on water & sanitation management in Indonesia - more about cultural & institutional issues than about Ap Tech, but I'd love to have somewhere to post it for people to make use of it.

Please post your masters thesis here for people to use... that is a main purpose of Appropedia. The broad definitions of AT that Appropedia follow definitely include Water and Sanitation management in Indonesia. --Lonny 01:13, 28 June 2006 (PDT)
Will do. I have yet to solve the translation from Word to Wiki markup, though, especially for a longish document with 350 footnotes. I'm hoping I won't have to do it by brute force editing... --Singkong2005 (now known as Chriswaterguy) (now known as Chriswaterguy) t - c 09:57, 28 June 2006 (PDT)

I'm a little confused by the structure here, compared to what I'm used to at Wikipedia. Especially the use of article-type material in Category pages. Might be a good idea, but I need to spend some time here figuring stuff out. I also notice that all words in article names are capitalised (e.g. "Appropriate Technology" as opposed to "Appropriate technology" in the Wikipedia naming conventions) - is that a deliberate choice? Seems minor, but it's good to have a single standard to make wikilinking easier with fewer glitches; personally I prefer the Wikipedia approach (in which a page like Wikipedia:Appropriate Technology is generally just a redirect page to the article at Wikipedia:Appropriate technology).

The use of article-type material in Category pages is a result of the expansion of one small area of wikipedia into an entire new type of wiki. Therefore a wikipedia article at wikipedia:Adobe becomes Appropedia:Category:Adobe, because that category may include Projects, Curricullum, Resources, How-Tos, Theses, etc. As for the naming, let´s switch to the wikipedia approach especially for non-project pages. --Lonny 01:13, 28 June 2006 (PDT)

Anyway, I've started a draft of an article on low-cost computers. I started to do it here, but I wanted to invite computer enthusiasts (e.g. MiniLinux programmers) to contribute, without the hurdle of registration. So I've placed it in my Wikipedia userspace: Wikipedia:User:Singkong2005/Low cost computer so that anyone can edit it. Is there any objection if I make a page on Appropedia on low cost computers, with a brief explanation and a link? I don't expect this approach to be necessary very often, but it seems appropriate in this case with the specialised knowledge needed.

Yes, it seems fine to make a page here with a link, but it would be preferrable to host the entire article here since its nature fits the appropedia charter much more than that of wikipedia. If the Low cost computer does not get much traffic on your user page, please consider moving it to appropedia. For some work in the same vein as your page, check out the article, A Portable and Sustainable Computer Education Project for Developing Countries - Phase I, from the International Journal for Service Learning in Engineering. --Lonny 01:13, 28 June 2006 (PDT)

Btw, I couldn't find a "Village pump" or "community page"... so I don't know if I'm posting in the right place. Come to think of it, surely a wiki focused on appropriate technology should have a village pump? ;) --Singkong2005 (now known as Chriswaterguy) (now known as Chriswaterguy) 05:19, 26 June 2006 (PDT)

Yes this site should definitely have a community page. I will put a link to a blank community page on the navigation bar. Currently there is a Appropediatodo page (that is very clumsily written), which could probably be adapted into part of a community page, as could this talk page. --Lonny 01:13, 28 June 2006 (PDT)
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