The Federated Library Project

What is the federated library project?

It’s an attempt to build a library of resources which document our community knowledge and process of learning.

Like Wikipedia?

Yeah, sort of. Like a Shadow Wikipedia in some ways, built on different principles, but complementing Wikipedia nicely.

On Wikipedia people spend a lot of time debating over what the perfect page looks like, and what deserves to be a page. And this debate produces an excellent resource. We love Wikipedia!

But that debate also limits what you can do on Wikipedia. Some examples:

  • Maybe you just learned an interesting fact about how Daniel Lanois got that great reverb on the Dylan track “Man in the Long Black Coat”. You could go to Wikipedia and argue whether this detail is trivial or important enough to be on the Oh Mercy album page, but prepare to be there awhile.
  • Maybe your class just got some great data from some water tests you did in the local community. But there really isn’t a page for “Average Hard Metal Content of Camas WA Water”, so where do you put that?
  • Maybe you’re learning physics, and you’d like to write up a short summary of Newton’s Second Law to help your own understanding. But Wikipedia has practically finished that page — you can’t add to it. Or maybe you’d like your students to do this, but again, they can’t on Wikipedia.
  • Maybe you just learned about the Wow So Portland! twitter bot, and you want to write it up as an example of algorithmic art. But Wikipedia doesn’t consider the page notable.

Up to now there were really two choices. You could work on a consensus space like Wikipedia (which doesn’t work for reasons outlined above). Or you could build a class or personal site all on your own.


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