What is Appropedia?
Appropedia is an open platform for knowledge-sharing in sustainability and development, and an extremely cost-effective tool for empowering and informing.
It is also library of knowledge for a better world - but a living, growing library that we are building together.
What are the purpose and goals of Appropedia?
Who is behind Appropedia?
The Appropedia Foundation, which is an independent organization, based in California but with an international membership and perspective.
The directors and other individuals involved in the Appropedia community have many other ties, including:
- Academics from Humboldt State University, Queens University, Kingston and Clarion University of Pennsylvania whose students create and compile knowledge using Appropedia.
- Engineers Without Borders UK, an international development organisation that is helping to promote Appropedia in the UK and is contributing the findings of its projects and its research to Appropedia (particularly through internships)
- Full Belly Project, working with an academic and his students at Humboldt State University to improve designs for appropriate technology in food processing, and documenting them on Appropedia.
- Village Hope, LeapingStone (which share a board member with the Appropedia Foundation, i.e. Curt Beckmann)
- OLPC - Appropedia's content is beginning to be compiled into bundles for distribution in the XO laptops.
- The Transition Towns movement, editing The Transition Handbook openly on the Appropedia wiki. The first edition was ported here, and the second edition will be based on the new version developed on Appropedia.
More broadly, we are:
- People from around the world interested in green living, sustainable technology, and thrivability.
- Non-profit organizations
- Members of governments and intergovernmental institutions
- The Bottom of the Pyramid directly (as more and more have access to the internet, and as Appropedia merges with Ekopedia and expands its non-English language content)
- Agents of change who can use whatever means are at their disposal to spread the knowledge developed here.
Who does Appropedia collaborate with?
The Appropedia community collaborates with many different people and organizations, usually on an ad hoc basis in creating wiki pages.
We also have more structured collaborations, including:
- Academics and university students, who create or improve wiki pages as part of their courses. See Appropedia: Service learning for details.
- Information providers such as Practical Action in the UK (the international appropriate technology group founded by E.F. Schumacher). Appropedia provides a way to make their knowledge more widely available, helping to fulfill their mission.
What are the programs and activities of Appropedia?
Individuals and groups within Appropedia community are involved in many diverse projects and programs. These involvements are generally outside the scope of the Appropedia Foundation, and are not necessarily endorsed by the Foundation. The Foundation does not support on-the-ground technology projects, focusing instead on bringing knowledge together and making it accessible.
Programs supported by the Appropedia Foundation include:
More broadly, the activities of the Foundation and the Appropedia community include:
- The wiki at Appropedia.org. The main role of the Foundation is to make available the platform for knowledge-sharing. The actual work is taken on by the community, with people from around the globe, including "bottom of the pyramid" countries such as India and the Philippines, sharing their knowledge, designs and ideas through the wiki, and using it as a way to make connections with other (makers/workers...?)
- Promotion of open content for development
- Facilitating the transfering of information from other sources to the wiki (see Porting
- Development and support of the Appropedia community of contributors and users
- Engagement with other organizations and communities.
- Social media, including the [http://blogs.appropedia.org/ Appropedia blog, Twitter and Facebook.
Is Appropedia wholly virtual? Does it have any activities in the real world?
- "Appropedia" normally refers to the wiki, which is virtual - it exists only online or wherever it has been copied to an offline format or printed out (which are allowed under our open license). The power of knowledge means that by sharing information, knowledge, wisdom and creative ideas, we make a powerful impact in the real world. Working together in the virtual world leads to synergies and face-to-face connections. These are confirmed as we hear of the real-life fruits of this in feedback from contributors to Appropedia.
- The Appropedia Foundation does engage in building relationships with other change agents, both in the virtual world and in real life:
- It took the lead in organizing OSNCamp 2008
- In their travels, the directors seek out and engage with researchers and creators of knowledge.
- The Foundation currently engages in active fundraising for the activities of Appropedia.
- Advocacy for the use of Appropedia in service learning and open source research.
How are Appropedia's activities organized?
As a wiki, the most fundamental organization that occurs is "emergent," with contributors from around the world finding ways to work together without a hierarchical structure.
Certain sub-projects are more highly organized - notably the academic efforts (the work of students as part of their classes) and the porting efforts, bringing in collections of knowledge developed by external organizations.
What's the point of an internet resource for the poor, when the poor have no internet?
Many more people have internet access than you might expect, via smart phone or internet kiosks. Appropedia has visitors from even the poorest countries on earth. Appropedia information can be distributed in offline forms, including through printed booklets (e.g. use the "Create a book" link in the left-hand navbar).
See Appropedia:Can the poor access Appropedia? for more details.
What happens to Appropedia if a meteor strikes the server, or society collapses...?
While a meteor strike or zombie apocalypse might be very unlikely, you'll be glad to know that Appropedia is prepared, and you can help with the backup plans.
A "dump" of all text on the site is available, and is updated weekly. You can download it regularly, and if there is a disaster and Appropedia goes down, someone else, somewhere in the world, can very quickly install a wiki and add all Appropedia's text content. More frequent backups are made on our own servers.
(Downloading all images and other files is not so simple - we do have backups, but would be happy to add another layer of backup.)
You should have something about X, Y or Z on your site
You're probably right - and it's easy for you to add this information!
- If it's general information on a topic, search to see if there is an existing page you can add to. Otherwise, start a new page as described in the next steps.
- For a project or a new topic, search for the page title you want.
- Click the red link that appears at the top of the results.
- Enter your information (a sentence, a paragraph, many paragraphs...) and click save.
- The new page will now be available on Appropedia! It will also appear in the RecentChanges stream - others in the Appropedia community can see it, add categories, help with formatting, and add information where appropriate. (We also watch for spam and misinformation.)
Others in the Appropedia community, especially the directors and admins, are here to help you. But please remember that there are thousands of important topics and millions of useful facts which need to be added, so please help out in adding the info which needs to be added. Appropedia is a platform for you to use.
It's up to you - and even if you start your own site, you can still use Appropedia (though doing both effectively is a lot more work). One option is to have your own homepage for a basic intro, and to link to your Appropedia pages for more detailed, open information. Another is to use Appropedia's API to allow users of your site to access and edit Appropedia pages, while staying on their own site.
There are important advantages to sharing on Appropedia:
- Save time, money and effort. Running your own site might take more energy than you expected - and that's not your ultimate goal, is it? "I stopped spending time maintaining software and had more time to focus on the project itself." Vinay Gupta of the Hexayurt Project]] (see Appropedia:Testimonials)
- Connect with likeminded people: "we also got connected to all kinds of interesting people and other activities, like the OLPC project and we get a lot of value about being connected to all of the other projects on Appropedia." - Vinay Gupta again. Job interviews have also come through people posting their projects on Appropedia.
- It will be in a place where people will find it.
- The categorization and navigation tools, and the increasing search engine rank of Appropedia give your page a good visibility
- People interested in these subjects use Appropedia to search for information.
- Get feedback on your designs and projects.
How can we have our own identity within this site?
We are also exploring the idea of a slim banner at the top of the page when you are visiting from a partner organization's website - this is under development.
And of course the API mentioned above allows integration of your own site with Appropedia.
Userboxes on your userpage can show what projects or groups you belong to, as well as your interests, and place your userpage in a category so like-minded people can find you. We are looking at using the "SocialProfile" extension which we hope will improve this, as well.
The Appropedia Foundation will continue to support the development of the site to better serve Appropedia users and contributors, including in the functioning of groups within the Appropedia site community.
Can I participate?
Yes - Appropedia needs you!
- Contribute your knowledge
- Slightly technical: Help with porting to Appropedia the many resources we have permission to use, but need a little work to put them into wiki markup and upload the images.
- Help find new content to bring in. It needs to be under a suitable open license, so request permission is an important step.
- Spread the word. Blog about us, submit a story or story idea to your favorite media (e.g. tell your local media how you've applied knowledge from Appropedia in your home and community), tell friends, recruit professors to using Appropedia for their classes.
- Very technical: Help develop the features of the site further - see Appropedia:Technical development plan.
- Donate. Appropedia runs on the smell of an oily rag, with no paid staff, and our work is constrained by a lack of funding. While we are committed to continuing this work, your finance will let us be much more effective in expanding the site and improving the ability of the site to serve you, the world community and the planet.
Do you have a question that isn't answered here? Contact us - we'd love to hear from you.