[permaculture] Permaculture wikis & making a major impact

Bob Waldrop bwaldrop at cox.net
Thu Dec 24 00:38:21 EST 2009


I appreciate your passion and your evident desire for the blossoming of the 
permaculture movement.  I am glad we can have this conversation in this 
forum, so that others can see the discussion and come to their own 
conclusions.  That's the way we go forward, and we need more such 

I constantly hear a certain longing in the permaculture movement for 
"leadership" or maybe it's "organization", sort of along the lines of "we 
must unite".  These are scary times, and the scariness is not going away, 
and if even a tenth of what some folks are saying actually materializes over 
the next 20-30 years, humanity is in big trouble.

To continue my comparison of permaculture with ecology. . . we all know that 
succession is one of the things we work with.  It's sometimes possible to 
jump a stage, but that requires a lot of extra inputs, work, design, etc., 
and one thing we have to learn in permaculture is a certain willingness to 
let nature do its job and not "try to fool Mother Nature".  So whether it be 
a wiki, or a global permaculture institute, or even a US convergence or 
permaculture conference, there is in a sense a form of natural succession in 
human invisible structures too.  The way to a national gathering is through 
a multitude of small local gatherings that (after time) produce regional 
gatherings which could, also after time, bring to fruition some form of 
national gathering.

One of the values of some of the smaller wikis is that it is easier for 
someone new to wiki-dom to get invo lved.  My editing/writing experiences 
for example with Wikipedia have not been good.  Generally my edits are 
deleted, and I am not enough of a wiki-expert to figure out how that whole 
editing process works (watching, talking, contesting, etc.)  So I don't 
write or edit at Wikipedia anymore.  permaculture.info, on the other hand 
is, as you say, smaller,undr fewer peolple involved.  So it is easier for 
someone new to wander in and start adding information.  I looked at the 
Appropedia site, but being big and busy it reminds me of Wikipedia so I 
figured I should go elsewhere to get started.  I don't think that the Wiki 
universe generally does a very good job of helping new people understand the 
process, and individual wikis almost certainly have their own 
culture/eco-system, and may or may not be supportive of new invasive species 
who might wander in looking for a place to put down roots.

So, we need small wikis as a way to help people get involved in wikidom.

If you want people to also be involved with the Appropedia site, the main 
thing I suggest is to make it easy for newbies to wander in and start 
writing or editing.  By this I mean not only plain language explanations of 
the mechanics, but also an introduction of some sort to the Appropedia 
culture.  I started writing at permaculture.info because as noted above it 
was small and easy to do.  But I also like permaculture.info because I have 
a lot of respect for Scott Pittman and the Permaculture Institute.  Although 
we have never met in person, I have trust in Scott and his projects, so that 
leads to a desire to do things that strengthen his work (since I can't send 
him a check for e.g. a few hundred thousand dollars).

I read somewhere that peasants in China used to build really nice out-houses 
on the edges of their fields that bordered roads in order to attract 
travelers to their "facilities" so the travelers would leave gifts of their 
humanure which would make the farmer's fields more fertile.  That seems like 
a good strategy for attracting people wandering by who might be tempted to 
stop and drop a bit of wisdom into a wiki for the benefit of all.

Bob Waldrop, waiting for the snow and ice in Okie Citgy

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Chris Watkins" <chriswaterguy at appropedia.org>
To: "permaculture" <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wednesday, December 23, 2009 11:59 AM
Subject: Re: [permaculture] Permaculture wikis & making a major impact

> Thanks for your replies, Bob and Paul,
> There's a tension between the creativity of people doing their own thing,
> and the effectiveness of collaboration. If you think of a wiki 
> encyclopedia,
> you'll think of Wikipedia - not because they're the only ones who tried, 
> but
> because they worked hard on it from the beginning (started as a commercial
> effort, got a mass of people) and because there are a lot of people 
> watching
> any one subject.
> There's a misconception that wikis will magically create a useful 
> resource,
> but it's not true. The vast majority of wikis out there are near empty or
> full of spam. I did a project looking at this: Green wikis and development
> wikis <http://www.appropedia.org/Green_wikis_and_development_wikis> - you
> can click on the table columns and compare the size and activities of the
> wikis.
> I tiny site isn't very visible, either in terms of search rankings, or in
> popular consciousness.
> Besides that, having 10 people interested in topic X all with that page on
> their watchlist and getting email alerts, on one wiki, is much more
> effective at building an article than 5 on one site, 2 on another, and 3 
> on
> other wikis. Then there's the tech side - by working in the same "wiki
> space", we divide the effort to manage the server, software etc. It's
> outsourcing that tech effort, so we can put more effort into documenting 
> the
> permaculture.
> None of this is to negate what you've said, but just to show why I believe 
> a
> single domain is far, far more effective. And for all that we've done good
> work and are pouring our hearts into our work, we all know that there's a
> desperate need for us to be more effective.
> There are important issues that can be raised of course - e.g. how do we
> respect people's autonomy if most of us are on one site? That's largely
> about the culture of the specific community, but it's something we can
> discuss.
> The idea of just linking between the sites is certainly an option - to my
> mind, seeking the greatest collaboration, this is not the preferred 
> option.
> But if that's the path we take, the very least we must do is to add each
> other to our interwiki maps, which allows "interwiki linking" without the
> nofollow tag - this will give the sites a modest boost in search rankings.
> Cheers
> Chris
> On Thu, Dec 24, 2009 at 04:43, paul wheaton <paul at richsoil.com> wrote:
>> I think Bob is right.
>> I think that there can be multiple angles of permaculture.  And it
>> there are five different wikis, it is really easy to have each
>> reference to "the best of" of the others.
>> Bob, any chance I can get a link to permies.com from your site(s)?
>> On Wed, Dec 23, 2009 at 10:32 AM, Bob Waldrop <bwaldrop at cox.net> wrote:
>> > I think that cyberspace can be fairly compared to an eco-system.
>> > Mono-cultures are an issue.  I think it is better for the movement to 
>> > let
>> > many flowers bloom in cyberspace.  All of the permaculture sites can be
>> > linked and their articles and such should show up in search engines, so 
>> > I
>> > don't know that there is any inherent advantage in everybody working on
>> only
>> > one site, since links back and forth effectively make the whole
>> > cyber-ecosystem for permaculture potentially available from every
>> > permaculture site linked to the others    .  Sort of like rhizomes
>> > underground and runners above ground.  There is an article about and a
>> link
>> > to the Appropedia wiki at www.permaculture.info , but it is rather
>> > rudimentary.  Perhaps when you get back online you could expand it a 
>> > bit
>> so
>> > it is more useful.
>> >
>> > I also don't see any particular utility on concentrating on one domain
>> name.
>> > I have  six active websites, each with a different domain name, linked 
>> > to
>> > each other, the names are immediately recognizable and thus are 
>> > utility.
>> > Every day an average of 1,000 people download 2.5 pages of information,
>> and
>> > the server logs indicate that the various domains point traffic to each
>> > other, which is good.  So if someone finds me because they searched for
>> > "hamburger casserole" or "how to bake bread", then they may continue on
>> to
>> > learn something about energy conservation, or permaculture design, or
>> social
>> > justice, or how to start a local food cooperative or how to make and 
>> > use
>> > bulgar.
>> >
>> > I am glad you are working on making the Appropedia site a more useful
>> > resource. But I am also glad that others are doing their own thing with
>> > other permaculture-related wikis.  The multitude of sites suggests
>> > resiliency to me.
>> >
>> > Bob Waldrop, Oklahoma City
>> > www.barkingfrogspermaculture.org
>> > www.energyconservationinfo.org
>> >
>> > ----- Original Message ----- e
>> > From: "Chris Watkins" <chriswaterguy at appropedia.orge
>> > To: "permaculture" <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>r,
>> > Sent: Wednesday, December 23, 2009 8:59 AM
>> > Subject: [permaculture] Permaculture wikis & making a major impact
>> >
>> >
>> >>I see that permaculture.info as some activity again, and the spammers
>> seem
>> >> to have been pushed back - this is great.
>> >> I work with Appropedia.org, knowledge sharing for sustainability. 
>> >> (Note
>> I
>> >> "work" rather than "get paid" but it's my passion and I'm nsure many 
>> >> of
>> >> you
>> >> understand what I mean). This is a very active sustainability and
>> >> development wiki, covering all topics in green technology, green 
>> >> living,
>> >> design, agriculture, appropriate
>> >> tech<http://www.appropedia.org/Appropriate_technology>,
>> >> covering topical info, best practice, projects, how-tos... you name 
>> >> it.
>> >> It's
>> >> the biggest such site, and is growing, with student classes in North
>> >> America
>> >> and individuals around the world creating useful content and sharing
>> their
>> >> distilled knowledge and their wisdom.
>> >>
>> >> I have a few hours before I'm offline for a few weeks, so I'll be 
>> >> direct
>> >> and
>> >> throw this out there:
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> To make a real difference in the fate of humankind and our 
>> >> environment,
>> we
>> >> need to be having not even 100 times the current impact of Appropedia,
>> but
>> >> 1000 times. There's so much fluff and hot air in the media, when what 
>> >> is
>> >> needed is to create more and more of substance, and get that in front 
>> >> of
>> >> the
>> >> public.
>> >>
>> >> I believe this is achievable, but not by working separately.
>> >>
>> >> All of us together will help build something that stands out, above 
>> >> the
>> >> sea
>> >> of greenwash, green commercialism, hot air (looking at you, Copenhagen
>> >> conference) and misinformation, and provide the knowledge that the 
>> >> world
>> >> needs.
>> >>
>> >
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> -- 
> Chris Watkins
> Appropedia.org - Sharing knowledge to build rich, sustainable lives.
> blogs.appropedia.org
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