Appropedia:A history of collaboration
After years of other online and offline sustainable collaboration projects, Lonny started Appropedia in April 2006 with a focus on a very broad definition of appropriate technology. He was assisted by Aaron and Goodsignal in the decision to use the mediawiki engine for Appropedia.
In May 2006 he started a conversation with Chriswaterguy via his Wikipedia userpage. Chriswaterguy was focused on appropriate technology articles in Wikipedia, but by June 2006 he was convinced to join forces at Appropedia. Appropedia now covered broader issues of international development and sustainability - a logical development due to the large amount of overlap and synergy between these topics. It also developed a policy of complementing Wikipedia, referencing encyclopedic material there, and focusing instead on project information, original research, how-tos, networking and anything else not suitable for Wikipedia.
A note left on another site led Curtbeckmann to join Appropedia, bringing energy, new ideas and different perspectives. He put a lot of energy into gaining permission to port quality content from other sites, leading to an acceleration in Appropedia's content growth and profile. Likeminded people and organizations were happy to give permission to use their material (see below).
Goodsignal worked away in the background since September 2006, doing important technical work.
Contact with WikiGreen in late December 2006 led to an enthusiastic response from Ericblazek, and a very quick decision to join forces. (Chriswaterguy logged on one day to find that the merger, which he had supported, had been agreed upon and implemented by those on the other side of the planet, largely while he was asleep.) It was decided to use the name Appropedia, at least for the time being. This brought an enormous amount of content, the work of Ericblazek and (what's the name of other WG person?), ported with permission from various publications.
Since then Appropedia has made connections with more and more people and organizations:
- A long-running discussion with Village Earth led to their wiki merging in March 2007. This was the original wiki on appropriate technology.
- Discussions with Architecture for Humanity, who have set up the Open Architecture Network. Their website serves a different purpose to Appropedia, and the exact form of collaboration is still to be decided, but we have agreed to support each others' efforts.
- Sustainapedia, a planned website by a group of people with a similar vision and much ambition, led by Ryan Legg (On2Leggs), and Jim Harris of Cleantech. The Sustainapedia and Appropedia teams quickly agreed to join forces, and are now working out the details.
- The How To Live Wiki, the site of Vinay Gupta, known for the Hexayurt, merged much of its material into Appropedia in March 2007, and Vinay joined the Appropedia team.
- Since the late 90's, Chriswaterguy envisaged a collaborative site where people would share ideas, and the focus would be on facts rather than opinion, focusing on the key issues that made a difference in the world. It was to be called Roots of Change and he registered rootsofchange.net.au in 1998 or 1999. However, he didn't know how to make a collaborative website, and it never got past a vague idea. When he learnt about Wikipedia he saw this as the realization of his earlier dream - someone had figured out how to make collaborative website. Lonny pointed out, however, that certain types of content and collaboration are not suitable for Wikipedia. Appropedia, and to an extent Wikipedia, is a realization of this earlier dream.