Searching the green dev wikisphere


There is an ecosystem of wiki websites on sustainability, design and development issues.

Appropedia is a large and broad site; others include small but active communities and NGOs doing good, focused work (e.g. Greenlivingpedia and Akvopedia), wikis run by multilateral organizations (e.g. the UNDP’s WaterWiki and the OECD’s Wikiprogress and Wikigender), and (sadly) wikis where nothing has happened for years, and the community appears to have scattered.The ecosystem isn’t exactly thriving – even when we’re friendly (and we usually are) we don’t talk and we don’t share as much as we’d like.

As communities we want to collaborate and encourage each other, but as individuals we’re busy – and I’m as guilty as anyone. What can help is just being aware of what is on other wiki sites – knowing of good wiki pages out there in the green wikisphere, to learn from, borrow from and link from our own pages. That can even lead to the odd bit of drive-by editing on another wiki – all the better.

To that end, here’s a tool I’ve made: a search engine for green and development wikis.

It’s a Google custom search of over 40 wiki sites. Apologies to the good wikis I haven’t named in this blog post, but I hope you’ll check that your site shows up in the search results.

If you want to who’s writing about something on which wiki, this can help. The results are a little quirky, so allow a few seconds to scan the list to find what you want, and maybe try different search terms. Give it a try, and let me know.

May it add a little more unity to our wiki ecosystem.

Open Sustainability Network – building on what’s here


In early discussions within the Open Sustainability Network, it was agreed that we didn’t want Yet Another Website. So we use existing resources: We didn’t set up a separate wiki, instead using Appropedia.* We didn’t set up a new social network, instead using an existing, like-minded community of people doing serious sustainability and knowledge-sharing work: Global Swadeshi. When someone suggested that OSN should be building a knowledge base, Lonny Grafman expressed that this is a job some of us are passionate about (indeed, that’s what Appropedia is doing) – but it’s not the role of OSN. OSN is for supporting and connecting these initiatives.

I like this approach – we exist to connect, and this new community is avoiding fragmentation and building on existing initiatives in very practical ways.

There is much more to report on OSNCamp last weekend – the first meeting of the Open Sustainability Network. Stay tuned.

*Appropedia is not the only wiki in the network, but it’s active one, a number of the organizers were Appropedians, and no one objected. (I was the one who suggested a separate wiki, but happily went with the flow when no one agreed.) In that spirit, when Vinay Gupta suggested an OSN social network, I objected and suggest we use the one he started: Global Swadeshi.

(Pardon the recent silence on this blog. There’s a backlog of inspiration in the Appropedia community, and we’ll be sharing it here again very soon…)



A bunch of different folk are doing BarCamps* on a Green theme. This GreenCamps page lists the ones I could find, though I haven’t had time to organize the page.

Coming soon: OSNCamp, aka The Open Sustainability Network Conference, October 18-19 in San Francisco, at which the Open Sustainability Network will be launched.

*A Barcamp is also known as an unconference – a very ad hoc conference. usually they are mostly on tech subjects. Think how the conferences you’ve been to have often been more notable for the conversations that have happened spontaneously, rather than the main talks. A BarCamp has a lot more of the informal stuff, and short talks can be given by anyone, at short notice. You can choose which talks to go to, or just do your own thing.