Searching the wikisphere


On Appropedia pages, I often create a separate “Interwiki links” section. I see these links as different to other external links, as you may be leaving this wiki, but you remain within the wiki ecosystem.

Recently I’ve been thinking how useful it would be to have a good search engine that covers the whole wikisphere. I know some attempts have been made, but there are no active, comprehensive efforts I’m aware of. Qwika is a great concept but is very out of date – they don’t respond to requests to add wikis, and their Wikipedia cache is at least 16 months old. Other efforts exist, but I don’t know of any that cover more than a handful of the major wikis.

My plan is to make a Google custom search engine for wiki sites, keeping the index of sites as open as possible – though it will need to be protected or semi-protected, so that it doesn’t suddenly start searching porn and dodgy pharmaceutical sites .

  • I’ll start with the wikis in Wikimedia’s interwiki map, and Appropedia’s equivalent.
  • Next step is to start separating out the gaming and fan sites from the more serious wikis, so there can be different search engines according to the type of content. I don’t want hits from Wookiepedia or Halopedia when I’m working on an Appropedia article.
  • Then see if there’s some way to get a list of the urls of all the wikis on WikiIndex.

Is anyone else working on something similar?

Originally posted, by the same author, at Pablo Garuda.

How free is free?


I like the Creative Commons By Attribution license – it’s more free, letting people mix the content more easily and use it how they want, even mixing it with non-free content – as long as they give attribution.

The challenge is, if we decide to switch Appropedia to this license, much of our content will have to be clearly marked as being under a different license. (I’m thinking a template top and bottom, and some kind of box for content on pages where the content is from mixed licenses – we’ll need to use a bot to put the notices on every page, to start with.)

We’ll want to contact as many editors as possible and ask them to release all their past contributions under the new less restrictive license, and begin a process of identifying which old content can have the “GFDL” mark removed, to bring it over to the new license.

I believe it will be worth the pain, and we’re starting to discuss it within Appropedia now.

Which free license should you use?

Note: Since originally posting this, responses have made me rethink and soften my position. At the very least, the use of CC-BY is a concern to some wiki contributors, and this alone is a good argument for using CC-BY-SA. See the Which free license should you use? page for more detail.

Originally posted, by the same author, at Pablo Garuda.

Cool little laptop – the OLPC Australia TechFest


I played with the XO (a.k.a. $100 laptop) at the OLPC Australia TechFest.

The XO is a very cool machine. Looks perfect for kids, regardless of whether they’ve used a computer before. I’d heard about it before, and tinkered for a few minutes in the past. But actually trying out the latest laptops, seeing the quality of the machine and the video display, and using the various programs for art, music and and science, it was something else. The way the Sugar interface works is ideal for exploratory learning, and the way the the mesh network together with Sugar facilitates group activities is really impressive.

Chatting to the OLPC people about the Windows controversy was encouraging too, to get the inside story rather than just media reports. The clear message I’ve heard is that they are definitely supporting open source, whatever public speculation is happening, and whatever else people want to do with the machines.

One thing said during the day made me laugh:

Senator Kate Lundy took an XO to a Labor Party meeting. (Prime Minister) Kevin Rudd liked it. We know, because the XO took a photograph of his smile.

(Sounds like the first wave of an alien invasion, reporting back to headquarters.)

Sarah Maddox has more.

At Appropedia we’re thinking about how we support the OLPC with free content, and about the Summer of Content, which is still a possibility for this year with a bit of work in the text 2 weeks. More on that shortly. Edit: This didn’t eventuate this time around, unfortunately – too much to do and we didn’t have the people to carry it all the way. But it’s looking definite for the Southern Summer (December 08 – February 09) in conjunction with OLPC Australia, their partners, and whoever else wants to support the work.

Originally posted, by the same author, at Pablo Garuda.