Gerard and SJ,
I'm responding to both of your posts here to save time.
This sounds like a fine idea.
Thanks! I appreciate it.
I think the first part would make an excellent
which you could promote on IRC, via the mailing lists as you are doing, or on
the individual user pages of contributors who are working on related subjects.
well, I'm not sure if wikiprojects would work for what I had in mind.
I want to get some heavy-hitters in on this, and I've talked to a
few of them (Freeman Dyson, Lynn Margulis, Jared Diamond) as well as
some of the more popular writers like Richard Heinberg and
Colin Campbell, some EIA energy analysts, the IEA, etc.)
to ask them for advice. One of the things I asked them about is
their opinion on wiki.
And they aren't too keen on it as it stands. Aggregating what I've heard, in
particular, they have 5 major issues with it:
1 - no ready road to publishing. Its very hard to get a cohesive
physical paper out of wiki.
2 - no editorial control. Since anyone can edit the page,
the background is constantly shifting and not able to be given
as a reference. Plus they think it is 'impermanent'.
3 - No guarantee of attribution.
4 - lack of features for research collaboration.
5 - work in progress unable to be kept private amongst a group of
researchers until publication.
Now, I'm not saying that these are true, but the perception is there.
(in particular, from my reading of the GFDL I think that 3 is false).
My own feeling is #1 and #4 and #5 are the real show stoppers.
Mediawiki as it stands does not create good copy or something that can be
handed to publishers. In addition, the interface is not 'free form' in
the same way that an editor is free form; you click on a link to type into
it it takes you to a different screen. And AFAIK, you can't upload and
display Adobe illustrator graphs or collaborate on graphs.
And finally, to a serious academic, #5 is crucial because of the
'publish-or-perish' attitude in academic circles, as well as competition.
I personally don't think that privacy before publishing contradicts the
spirit of the GFDL, simply because the researchers in using wiki should make
the commitment to make the paper/book GFDL *after* its ready for publishing.
All this is really a pity. For its quite hellish to make an
academic paper nowadays; proprietary formats, incompatible versions of
software tools, inability to garner easy public comment *before*
publication and error checking, etc. In my opinion, a good wiki interface
would revolutionize the scientific publishing industry.
Anyway, to me all this says to me that what I'm proposing doesn't fit
inside of regular wikipedia. And IMO Its really counterproductive
to exclude original r and possibly important research because of
cultural or technical reasons.
[ .. about wikiprojects being excellent .. ]
This could be said of the a great many Wikipedia articles and subprojects.
Yeah I agree. In my mind its important that they have some place to go
once they reach critical mass, possibly get serious researchers attention,
and maybe get published.
The second part seems like it should be its own
separate affair, as your other
comments suggest this would veer towards original research/analysis, and as it
requires new software innovations for its realization..
In my mind this is another reason for a disconnect. I wouldn't want
to burden Mediawiki with creeping featurism; hence my sister wiki
software project which uses the mediawiki data model and is
interchangeable with it ('publishwiki').
ps - a couple of comment on Gerard's statements..
One objection is that wikipedia is not the platform
However you were talking about bundling the known
such it would not be research. Write some articles, get some people to
cooperate, link to your pages, categories where applicable and write
your "Main page".
here I must disagree with you. Some things are straightforward in
the project I propose, some things require a *lot* of research - possibly
original research - on the part of the contributor.
For example - again from Smil - he states on 'Energy at the Crossroads'
that the gross domestic product is in a linear relationship
with the Total Primary Energy Supply (the total amount of energy
used by a nation), and has been so over pretty much every country in
the last 100 years.
Now this fact was hell to calculate - he had to wade through
hundreds of graphs and normalize the GDP based on purchasing
power parities (to translate money into a constant unit),
etc, just to get the graph on page 66 of this book.
And IMO its an absolutely *stunning* conclusion. Think about it
for a sec - it basically says that all the improvements we make to
efficiency of engines, all the technology and time-saving labor devices
that we produce, the idea that a 'service economy' brings more GDP
per unit energy, all of that all that is a smokescreen. The gross amount
of energy we use directly determines the size of our economy, plain and
simple. Which is bad news if oil producton plateaus and we don't have a
Now, although I like his work, this is a big conclusion and I'd personally
like independent verification of this. And the research may or may not be
out there which does confirms this. But I'd like to be able to give someone
the incentive via publishing credit or even money incentive to check it out,
as well as attract people who can publish the aggregate and distribute it
to people who are in positions of power. For as much as I'd like to think
so, I don't think a congressman is going to read a wiki.