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Introduction to requirements for a living knowledge commons wiki

Introduction and context

Various people I’ve been talking with recently, including John Waters, share an interest (for whatever reason) in developing software to support something like a distributed ‘living’ knowledge commons. There is the unmissable Wikipedia, which everyone knows, but we couldn’t possibly use that for any compilation of the live knowledge that is needed to be shared for our radical purposes. One thing we have all noticed is people developing some knowledge compilations in their own systems – whether it be existing wiki software (take the P2P Foundation wiki as an example which I have worked on a lot) or based on other blog or content management systems (resources like LowImpact – there are many others).

Two relatively recent developments caught my attention. One is Ward Cunningham’s idea of the Federated Wiki; the other is the recently popular commercial software, Roam Research. I don’t see either as the answer, but both have interestingly different functionality.

The question I want to address here is: what functionality do we need to implement an effective ICT system that can embody a healthy, growing, live, knowledge commons – of the kind that could be used for our shared purposes? But this page is not about listing and refining those purposes, integrating all the relevant writings: that will follow on.

If this page could start to develop into a list of requirements that has broad agreement, then we could move on in two ways:

  1. we could invite people to build a reference implementation, along with clarifying the relevant shared protocols, APIs and standards;
  2. we could invite developers of existing open systems to work on incorporating this functionality into their systems.

For instance, due to the popularity of Roam Research, much work has already been done to produce open source emulations based on existing software – see for instance an article (mid 2020) from Ness Labs, and a piece (early 2020) on Reddit. But we aren’t aiming to stimulate another crowd of individual developers to develop their own systems, but rather to come together first in conversation about what really matters, and how to develop the systems to deliver that without all the duplication, re-invention, wasted time and energy, and frustration.

Some issues should go without saying, for instance, different software implementing these requirements can have different editing (or even reading) interfaces, provided they comply with these requirements. For editing – WYSIWYG, yes; HTML, yes; lightweight markup, yes; all depending on user preferences and familiarity.

wiki/requirements-introduction.txt · Last modified: 2024-01-15 10:52 by simongrant