Write for the Federated Library Project!

Or maybe it’s the Federated Learning Project?

We’re going to try to construct some federated wiki-ish stuff in WordPress. I explained what I need to do to get WordPress to act in the way we want it to to Boone Gorges, and he said it would be relatively easy, which means it should take me about three months.

But in the meantime I need people who can do “wiki on WordPress” so that we can have some content to work with as we explore federated WordPress.

If you want to participate, here’s what you need to do:

  • Get a WordPress.com account or install WordPress yourself.
  • Set up a new blog. It must NOT be in a subdirectory.
  • An example of a WordPress install that works is here. To get an available name on WordPress.com I just added “flp” to my other blog URL, but you can name it what you want.
  • Write for reuse in this space. What you post should be easy for others to reuse on their site with modifications. So no posts trying to prove a personal point or narratives that wouldn’t make sense out of someone else’s mouth. You are contributing words to your wiki that someone else can use with minimal modification.
  • Some types of pages you might post:
  • Note that I just wrote up these sample pages this weekend, so they aren’t linky yet. But they will be.

Now, an Important Note About Linking

A core tool of the Federated Library Project is reader-based associative linking. We want you, over time, to make sure your pages are linked to things people reading those pages are likely to find useful.

  • So first note: when you original post, there may not be anything to link to. But keep your eye out for new pages or ideas you can link to it and come back.
  • Second note: Copy other people’s posts to your site and link to those local copies too. More on how to do that in a few days.
  • Third and very important note: Create links in the format “\a-trifle-bitchy” where “a trifle bitchy” is the slug of your page.

This last point is important because as we build tools for federation it is important that links are portable from one site to the next, and links which include either the domain name or the folder structure will not be portable. So think before you link. You can see an example of a correctly formatted link on Town Equals 4,663.

Our Structure

Because we’re all working together to make one big happy resource, a style guide helps. Here’s quick guidance.

  • Pages can be organized around ideas, facts, data, theories, perspectives. But always be thinking about reuse: how could you write this in such a way it could be linked from multiple other pages? The title should be short — it is a name for the idea, not the title of a journal article.
  • The first text paragraph of the page is a synopsis. It should summarize the content that follows. Don’t get too clever here. A person should be able to read the synopsis and understand what the page is about. The synopsis will be heavily used to help steer readers to information they need, so make it count.
  • The “expansion” follows the synopsis and delivers on the promise of the synopsis.
  • Page annotations and citations follow the expansion down at the bottom. These are links to supporting external citations and wiki links to other pages that might be of interest to the reader of this page.
  • We have a convention of separating annotations and citations from the main page with five dashes (“—–” and a carriage return, the way you would do old school footnotes. See Town Equals 4,663 for an example.

Our Plan

I want to get some people doing wiki on WordPress, building up the culture while we come up with the tools that connect these individual wikis into one big federation. If you want to experiment with me you just need a spare WordPress blog and a few minutes a day. Let me know.

12 thoughts on “Write for the Federated Library Project!

  1. Mike,
    For those of us who are finally a bit used to fedwiki workflow, could you talk about what the analogs of various fedwiki processes (forking/discovery and rosters/search/ the notion of neightborhood/ etc. ) in a wordpress federated library?

    • We’re going to have to build it. So I don’t know yet, but it will all have to be coded unfortunately. I need people to build personal WordPress wikis though so that we have something to work with.

    • Because people are whiny babies. 😉

      No, seriously, federated wiki is a far better way to do this. It’s more efficient, it’s built to scale, it has all the features you are going to want to do this.

      But in a year and a half of evangelizing I find that many people find federated wiki so novel that they are a bit overwhelmed by it. I want to wrap new technology in yesterday’s cases so people stop falling into the learned helplessness that stops them.

      More importantly, I want to build it on top of a platform that already has a huge install base in education. And in education that platform right now is WordPress. If it can work on WordPress we can reach more many many more people with these ideas.

      My ultimate goal is to get to a world where you can write in WordPress or Federated Wiki and things flow seamlessly across the federation. But I probably have to learn javascript first.

      I think for people who want a tool for Serious Work rather than for occasional use federated wiki still is the way to go.

  2. Killing a #DigMoWriMo and FW bird with one post – November 1 done! (I’m a slacker – I didn’t officially commit to #DigMoWriMo, so I will not fill guilty when I backslide…lol)

    • Is that self hosted? Because I’ve found in the interim that I need to hack WordPress a bit (e.g. There’s a couple files that you might need to put up).

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