Last month marked my first year as a part of The Appropedia Foundation as its first full-time Executive Director. This year helped me find out why Appropedia is one of the largest resources of sustainability in the world and to develop a new vision for the next years.
The year 2020 has shaken our collective worldview in many ways. A growing movement sees sustainability as increasingly critical to our survival. For the rest, the global pandemic is a reminder of how fragile human-made systems are. The message is clear: we need to return to simpler lifestyles with better consumption patterns. As people ask themselves how to do this, Appropedia contains many answers to this question.
This year I focused on three actions as part of my work on Appropedia: fundraising, organizing content, and building a new strategy. These actions will help us connect with a growing movement around sustainability and to build our community. Here are some exciting announcements for you:
1. We are building a short-term vision and doing lots of fundraising. This was possible through initial support from the Shuttleworth Foundation. Last month we received a grant from the Intuitive Foundation. With this, Appropedia will serve as a tool to transfer know-how and practical surgical skills. After this experience, we expect to support other organizations that research sustainability worldwide.
2. We are working on new technical features and a site redesign in the upcoming weeks that will help you engage with your content in better ways: exploring, editing, and learning. Among these, you will see:
- A new front page design and some minor changes to the site, with better search capabilities, and finally, VisualEditor!
- Later this year, we will install a new responsive skin. Please let us know your thoughts as we test it out.
- We are implementing the Open Know-How standard to organize projects on Appropedia with their metadata. We are also planning on documenting hundreds of videos made by our community. Appropedia took part in the development of this standard, and we will continue to expand it as we make use of it.
- We’re testing a new search tool. This will help you discover projects by keywords, development stage, and the SDG.
We’re excited to find out how these new tools and standards will help you discover and use projects on Appropedia! Let us know your thoughts by posting them at our Village Pump.
3. We have future plans for better project documentation, technical resources, and other types of content. Our goal is to bring new users of Appropedia to engage in new ways, especially in areas where we have worked over the years such as research, education, and international development.
- Since 2019, Appropedia Foundation took part in developing technical specifications for open hardware as part of a project led by Open Source Ecology Germany with support from the German Institute for Standardization (DIN). DIN SPEC 3105-1 and 3105-2 will allow makers to communicate their projects more effectively. We will start implementing these tools for new projects soon.
- For over a decade, many schools and universities have edited Appropedia as part of their curriculum. In turn, their work has been of use to researchers and communities around the world. In the short-term, we will focus on improving our education programs, especially for distance learning during this pandemic.
- Our community has developed projects to tackle the COVID-19 crisis. Many we are also studying how appropriate technologies can help families stay at home during the pandemic.
- In the long term, we want to devise ways for organizations to find projects and replicate them as cheap alternatives to prevent and eliminate poverty. We also want to bring this knowledge closer to communities without a need for intermediaries by creating Know-How learning modules and Open Educational Resources in engaging and informative ways.
Appropedia is a great example of an organic open source community around Open Know-How. Different from Wikipedia and other encyclopedias, we explore solutions to practical problems. Here is what makes it interesting: there can be as many ways to solve a problem as there are problem solvers. For this reason, we are working in making sure that Appropedia becomes a place to come and learn from a wide range of contexts and experiences. This will require an exploration our physical relationship with our environment and our existential aims as humanity.
Having said this, I am honored to be a part of such a great community, and hope to give you more exciting news as we grow together.