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Welcome, Helge! Curt here.[edit source]

I took only a brief look at Osafa, but it looks like an extremely compatible site! If you would like to have any of your content ported to Appropedia, please just let me know!

Out of curiosity, how did you eventually find Appropedia? Search engine? Link from another site?

Thanks, --CurtB 06:41, 31 October 2006 (PST)

Hi Curt, thanks for the offer of porting! It's still too early as there are no real buildings/projects documented yet on However, here (at the bottom) is a list of technology projects I have come accross that would rather fit to Appropedia than to Osafa. Maybe that's useful for you.
As Appropedia is just in English, I'd love to see construction-related how-to's from Appropedia be ported to the French, Portuguese or Swahili version of Osafa, too, at some point. However I fear licences might be an issue. You have chosen the GFDL here (a choice that e.g. most at Wikipedia regret but is hard to undo), which is fairly unflexible, especially for print-purposes (e.g. the need to re-quote the licence in its entirty). At Osafa we'll probably opt for a Creative Commons licence, possibly CC devnations and/or CC attribution. Double-licensing (GFDL + CC) might be an option as well (for both).
How did you eventually find Appropedia? I don't know anymore how, only when: Oct 19th (date of my bookmark). Some days later Cameron Sinclair (from AFH) mentioned Appropedia to me as well, so I wouldn't have missed it :-) 07:29, 31 October 2006 (PST)
Wow, Cameron mentioned Appropedia? That's cool! (Update: I went back and checked. I sent a note to AfH on Oct 21. Interesting! Would love a link from AfH, especially if Cameron is willing to mention Appropedia in conversation, but perhaps we need to do more to earn it. I expect Osafa would also like one... Well, I'm sure they can't list every compatible org... --CurtB 14:07, 31 October 2006 (PST))
As for CCDN, one of our concerns was that it seemed risky to combine protection (protecting copyright/patent, etc) with open editing (where the content can be changed, and it becomes unclear what was protected), which Appropedia supports. One possibility would be for Appropedia to either create or partner with a more restrictive site for content that requires protection.
As for the CC attribution, I think you're suggesting that's very similar to GNU-FDL. I agree. Makes me wonder why there are two, or maybe you could tell me more about that. (Update: I re-read your comments and it's more obvious now what the advantages are of CC attribution. I did not realize that Wikipedia had regrets about GFDL. More to learn! --CurtB 14:07, 31 October 2006 (PST))
One compelling reason for me was that several other sites use GNU-FDL (Wikipedia, Village Earth's wiki), and we wanted to encourage migration or copying of content from those sites as easily as possible.
I'd be interested in your comments about licensing in general. Und vielleicht können wir manchmal auf deutsch schreiben. Ich kann nur ein biβchen, doch ist's besser als meine spanisch, und viel besser als meine kiswahili. One day when I truly get involved with a development project, perhaps I will become fluent in another language.
Thanks for the links to the projects. Will look at those shortly! --CurtB 13:43, 31 October 2006 (PST)
Wow, americans who speak German are rare. One day when I truly get involved with a development project, perhaps I will become fluent in another language. Yep, I'd love to speak an African language, too, maybe Arabic or Swahili. Maybe some day.. I think Cameron said someone had mentioned Appropedia to him, in context of his planned open architecture network.
As for the CC attribution, I think you're suggesting that's very similar to GNU-FDL. I agree. Makes me wonder why there are two. Wikipedia afaik started before Creative Commons was around, so they had to "borrow" a licencing system from the software world. GFDL was originally made for software documentation, not for open content. CC attribution is quite similar to GFDL but different in some essential points, e.g. the need to always copy the entire licence when used in print (virtually impossible). In my view GFDL is also too complex and unreadable for most of us. Creative Commons is brilliant in that respect, very clear and humanly readable. For more arguments see Why Wikitravel isn't GFDL, and also Wikitravel:Dual Licensing. --Helge 14:58, 31 October 2006 (PST)

Welcome from Lonny[edit source]

Hi Helge,

Great to meet you here.

Your input on licensing is very appreciated, this is something that we spent much time talking about, and have never felt fully satisfied by (in fact CurtB has been talking to a lawyer about this). I do not think it is too late for us to change, as very little (if any content) has been added from a GNU FDL source and all of the content creators could be contacted for approval. One more note, Appropedia is not intended to be English only, some content in Spanish and in Bislama has recently been promised.

I checked out Osafa (and your personal site - great photos!). Osafa is a fantastic idea and a beautiful site. The simpatico between Osafa and Appropedia is apparent and strong. Would you like to discuss possible collaborations?

PS I added .at to your "Post new message" link above so that it would link to your page.

Thank you for your input, --Lonny 21:32, 31 October 2006 (PST)

Hi Lonny, thanks for fixing the wrong link, that comes from copy&pasting from other wikis (with different usernames). Would you like to discuss possible collaborations? Yes, very much so. I think initiatives like ours or the planned one from AFH (or possibly others like could greatly benefit from each other! Regarding the looks of ("beautiful"), feel free to copy. (I want to move those design hacks into a proper skin, though.) --Helge 04:51, 1 November 2006 (PST)
Okay, I'll be bold: How about collaborating at a single unified domain name? (I say this boldly without having looked at Osafa in detail.) As Lonny described above, we never sorted out the license question to our satisfaction, and it's certainly not to late to correct it. (For me, the overriding idea turns out to have been wrong: that what was good for Wikipedia would be good for Appropedia.) So don't let licensing be a barrier in the discussion. --CurtB 05:57, 1 November 2006 (PST)
I am not sure if a merge would be the best option. Appropedia has a much broader approach than Osafa, both geographically and thematically. I want to focus Osafa on low-tech, rural architecture in Africa - mainly fostering replication of sustainable buildings with social benefit (i.e. schools, dispensaries, maternity wards, wells, etc). Many thousands of such projects are being built every year, mostly lacking innovation and efficiency. Appropedia as far as I understand does much more than just sharing "sources", in a broader area than architecture, and globally.
In contrast to such a broad focus I want to deepen it, e.g. by moving into physical projects of knowledge transfer (sth. like road shows) and into a grants program for sustainable and open-source construction projects. Reason: I think that focus (and the dedication of the frontpage to it) is important for people to quickly understand the purpose and value of Osafa. (We are primarily speaking of non-geek target groups with basic ICT skills, consuming content in a language other than their mother tongue). Also I believe that the domain name is good (short, easy to remember also for non-english-speakers, sounds African).
Yet I have absolutely no reservations against giving up "ownership" of the project, whatever helps Osafa is good! I could imagine making Osafa member of an Appropedia network, i.e. sth like being the Appropedia branch for African architecture. Or/and an integration similar to the one of Wikimedia projects among each other. What do you think?
--Helge 10:59, 1 November 2006 (PST)
(Curt again. Thanks to Lonny for hosting our conversation in his "welcome" section!) You have several valid points. Ideally, I would like (not sure how others feel) Appropedia to be both broad and deep, the way that Wikipedia is. Indeed, I think real usability really only comes with depth. Being broad and shallow probably is not compelling. One good thing about breadth is that you are more easily found. (I like how you added NUMBEROFARTICLES to the mainpage. Joining forces is good for that.) I think there are also synergies between various fields, like architecture and sanitation (are latrines integral or separate?), sanitation and water, etc.
I recognize that mainpage focus could be very important. I imagine that separate entry pages could be supported, with potentially subdomain mainpages linked in the nav bar, but that's probably a lot of work and more technical than I am. Like you, the core Appropedia team has expressed great flexibility in terms of ownership and naming. I get a sense from your last paragraph that perhaps Osafa continues as a web site, but could potentially point to a wiki elsewhere (with return links, of course)? Maybe that wasn't your meaning, but I think it's an intriguing thought.
Another related concern is that potentially numerous other NGO's or groups would prefer to go deep instead of broad, which would leave Appropedia either: 1) broad and not deep, or 2) competitive (or duplicative) with the deep groups, or 3) spotty, deep in some areas, not in others. I'm not so worried about Appropedia as about the goals/missions. Does separation of sites lead to missed opportunities? Are there building techniques developed in or for Africa that could be applied in, say, Latin America or India? Or vice versa? Will contributors support multiple similar wikis?
This is a great discussion to have. --CurtB 14:25, 1 November 2006 (PST)
Curt, you are perfectly right with what you say about depth. A wiki can have indefinite depth, Wikipedia proves that. Yet one has to start at some point, and the start has to be clear. Clarity means focus. Depth doesn't come but over time - but can be hinted at at start. Breadth is something that can be avoided at an early stage for the sake of focus - unless breadth itself is the focus (which probably is the case for Appropedia).
Does separation of sites lead to missed opportunities? Not if we don't compete but keep our contents really open. If contents from Osafa are truly open (i.e. a compatible licence, one that allows forks and mergers) then things can evolve organically. Apart, if needed, or together. I don't see dozens of niche sites popping up anytime soon, though.
Are there building techniques developed in or for Africa that could be applied in, say, Latin America or India? Yes in theory, in practice sometimes no. There are African norms (such as the WHO's "Bamako Initiative" setting standards for rural health posts all over Africa), local specifics (expensive wood in the sahel, or termites) and a general level of poverty that make African solutions (e.g. hospitals where tiles or running water are beyond reach financially) hard to compare. However, in most part solutions are applicable in other continents, too.
Would I rather welcome "Open Source Architecture for the World" than Osafa? Sure! Better even all on Appropedia! But: much harder to achieve.
The reason I do focus on African architecture is that with a broader or more global approach it might be almost impossible to reach my goals. My goals are: I want to establish a set of a handful buildings and construction techniques that replace the stupid way the many thousand primary schools and health posts are built throughout Africa every year. To achieve that I need to create an ecosystem able to identify those patterns that are mature, innovative and efficient enough to set the standards. A market of ideas that is inexistent now. A market where I need the average local building company and NGO to participate, from the dusty and dead-slow telecenter around the corner.
Ideal: "Osafa School No. 11" (just an example), being adopted by NGOs and government agencies, similar to the way standardized open source software increasingly replaces expensive custom made solutions. If those models are then being adopted by Appropedia (and vice versa), or adapted to fit the needs of other continents, the better.
I think "clarity" is the very key to success for both sites, that (more than "simplicity") is what leads to "usability". Clarity depends very much on the target group. It is hard to explain to my target group what "open source architecture" means (and I think the texts on have to improve in that respect). Explaining this via the detour of "appropriate technology" would still be harder, especially to non-native-speakers. (I for my part hadn't heard about the term before, not even in German). I'm not even sure if it's clever to take the detour via "open source" (the OS of OSAFA).
So currently I don't see redirecting to Appropedia. I simply have to avoid detours and clutter. I can image though that Osafa on it's frontpage claims to be affiliated with or part of Appropedia, and, more importantly, to heavily interlink project pages. Some examples from Wikimedia for such interlinking templates: [1] (see box redirecting to commons), [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], etc.
This could mean that a building on Osafa would be (semi-)duplicated to Appropedia, pointing to the original pages on Osafa, and vice versa listing/categorizing all Appropedia-articles relevant to the Osafa target group (e.g. photovoltaic projects) and pointing to project descriptions on Appropedia. It could mean a shared login via OpenID. It could mean listing all geo-encoded articles on each others maps. Etc.
Sorry for the lengthy post ;-)
--Helge 16:20, 1 November 2006 (PST)
Excellent post! And clearly you've thought about it a lot more than I have. I was not disagreeing, by the way, just trying to understand more. I agree that focus helps; essentially this can be translated to "marketing", and I can see how targeting message, etc, will accelerate things. Maybe down the road there is a merger opportunity (or maybe not). I guess the better approach is either tight linkage or some duplication (sharing), which would be a lot easier if we have the same licensing scheme. Lonny mentioned that I was talking to a lawyer, but he's not very responsive. You've told me a lot more than he has. And so I think we should revisit that (heck, I think we should notify all contributors since the GNU-FDL posting, which was not that long ago, and change to CC as quick as we can. Might take a week.) --CurtB 07:09, 2 November 2006 (PST)
That sounds great! I really think CC is the better choice. And I'm really happy if my input made a difference. As soon as I find the time I'll think about how to link to Appropedia from Osafa and create some templates. The Wikimedia projects do a good job showing how this can be done. --Helge 08:10, 2 November 2006 (PST)
Hi Helge,
Thank you for the offer to copy some of your look. As we revamp our look (probably by the end of this year), I will definitely check out your skin hacks.
When Appropedia was first conceived, it was thought that certain groups would take on specific topic portals (see Uganda Portal for an example). For instance, there is a natural building consortium that is considering taking on the Natural Building portal of Appropedia. But as Appropedia has grown, I have seen the need and place for not topic portals, but organization portals. For instance, an Osafa Portal. This would allow the following:
1. For you to have much control of the front page and content of that Portal.
2. For community members to select pages and projects for inclussion in the Osafa portal.
2a. For those same pages to also be included in some other organization's portal focusing on some other region, if that page was applicable.
3. For a greater audience to be brought together for input, collaboration, ideas, critiques, etc.
I am very curious what you think about this idea. If this is not an appealing option, let's keep exploring options for collaboration. At the minimum, we should include eachother in our interwiki tables to allow for easy linking in the form of [[osafa:PageName]]. To allow for many wikiprojects to do this with your site, submit your site to the interwiki map. Thank you, --Lonny 01:24, 2 November 2006 (PST)
Note: After seeing some more of your work, I am sure that you already know about the interwiki map... sorry. --Lonny 01:34, 2 November 2006 (PST)
Hi Lonny, please see my long posting above on why I think merging Osafa into a portal of Appropedia is not such a good idea, at least not for now. Curt sums it up well under "marketing". Interwiki linking makes absolutely sense, also see above for a couple of further ideas on that. What do you think about implementing OpenID? Users would have to have just one login between Osafa, Appropedia (and may others). For some more useful Mediawiki design ideas (similar to the ones from, come from the same hands) see here. How to create a new MW skin is described here. --Helge 08:10, 2 November 2006 (PST)

And welcome from me (Chris)[edit source]

Love the concept of osafa... pleased to see also that you're aware of AFH and seeking to work positively with them.

Re languages... we're mainly English speakers here, but hopefully we will develop into other languages as we grow. I speak Indonesian, though I haven't contributed in that language yet - I would certainly put relevant material on here regardless of the language (though we have yet to sort out how we manage the languages, e.g. using namespaces, or subdomains...) --Singkong2005 · talk 05:38, 1 November 2006 (PST)

Hi Chris, thanks for editing Osafa! Feel free to continue contributing, register, etc. ;-)
The language issue is a difficult one with Mediawiki, as the software itself has no multi-language capabilities. I followed the example of Wikipedia and set up four independent wikis (and plan to set up a fifth for images/files, similar to commons or wikitravel shared, as well as maybe an OpenID-integration). Not very satisfying, yet I need to provide localized UI (for Africans who speak French for example that's already an auxiliary language, English interfaces would be a show-stopper).
--Helge 11:18, 1 November 2006 (PST)
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