2023 Encyclosphere Progress Report

Short Progress Report

Here is what we’ve been doing since last spring. Maybe next week we’ll have a special meeting (Fridays @ 2 p.m. Eastern) to review our work and discuss next steps.

A Chrome and Brave (Chromium)browser extension.  Prepends encyclosphere search results to DuckDuckGo and Google search results page; automatically seed articles to WebTorrent from your browser; built-in reader opens free articles from WebTorrent; Wikipedia blockable.

Here’s a tweet with a video we would love for you to retweet:

Encyclosphere content improvements: better titles and descriptions; well over 600,000 encyclopedia articles converted to ZWI and hosted; the entire Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edition, and others, are now in ZWI form. This work is more development-related than an attempt to capture all the free encyclopedia articles, and metadata on all proprietary articles. In 2023 we intend to greatly multiply the content we make available in the ZWI format.

Identity signing is now supported.  EncycloSearch now uses the domain-based self-owned DID:PSQR identity standard to sign all ZWI files it creates (here’s the public key/DID); the OEDP uses the same standard. For its ZWI files, EncycloReader uses ordinary key-pair signing, which is similar.

WordPress plugin submitted to WordPress Plugins directory. Adds a button to posts/pages; pressing the button makes a ZWI file out of the post, signs it using the DID:PSQR, and submits it to the user’s choice of EncycloSearch or other aggregators supporting the KSF aggregator submission protocol. The plugin should be available sometime within the next few weeks. We will announce when in directory.

Stay-within feature. Both EncycloReader and EncycloSearch now permit users to click internal links in articles—from Wikipedia, Citizendium, and some other sites—and stay within the reader, rather than going to the source site. Thus you do not need to go to Wikipedia to read the latest Wikipedia articles, and Wikipedia does not get the traffic! Also, any articles you read are saved (or updated) in the ZWI format.

EncycloReader.org is now useful. Presents more relevant results, based partly on fuzzy search algorithms; has more user preferences; lets users to exclude encyclopedias from results; downranks Wikipedia results (by popular demand); and highlights searched-for words. Also, there is a new, partly-automated rating systems for submissions to EncycloReader (the ratings are independent of EncycloSearch; we haven’t yet engineered a decentralized encyclosphere rating system).

EncycloSearch.org now has a nice built-in reader; plenty of user preferences; and fuzzy search. The software was also the development bed for our use of WebTorrent. As a result, EncycloSearch serves as both the search source as well as web seed support for the browser extension. (EncycloReader also supports web seeds, which means all encyclosphere ZWI files should be available via WebTorrent from at least two sources.) The fully open-source software that runs it is now EncycloEngine (which also runs Oldpedia: see below).

Old Encyclopedia Digitization Project (OEDP) aims to make free ZWI files out of public domain encyclopedia articles which are now available only in the hard-to-use PDF format. We made progress:

Zwiformat.rb is now in production. This takes the messy HTML output from ABBYY FineReader PDF 16, formats it nicely, has various tools for improving and proofing the text, outputs a ZWI file, signs it, and submits it to Oldpedia. Dr. Nancy Hildebrandt is has been testing and piloting the process; we hope next year to begin asking for more volunteers to produce bunches of ZWI versions of public domain encyclopedias.

Oldpedia.org exists, albeit in an early stage. Another instance of EncycloEngine, the fully OSS software that runs EncycloSearch, Oldpedia.org will be the domain at which the KSF will publish ZWI-ified and signed public domain encyclopedias. It will also serve as a backup of public domain encyclopedia PDFs from Archive.org partners.

New database index file format developed. Our developers have agreed on this index file format, which will make it easier to support a fully automated exchange of articles (this has been done by hand among our aggregators). We have already made a good start on such a tool for automated content exchange, called ZWINetwork (and in particular zwi_share.py).

ZWIBuilder is a web-based WYSIWYG article editor, which saves articles directly to the ZWI format, signs the resulting ZWI files, and submits them to an encyclosphere aggregator. The tool is 100% free and open source software. Sergei Chekanov’s EnHub.org demos ZWIBuilder.The Knowledge Standards Foundation does not publish original, new encyclopedia articles (we republish old, public domain articles though), so we will not be hosting this tool; but you can!Encyclone.org, a new encyclopedia meta-search engine: the brand new (not quite ready) uses the open source Yacy engine. We took a few weeks out to test out the Yacy tool, on the theory that the result might help us to explore complementary approaches to the problems we are solving. It won’t do everything our search engines do, but it will be useful.

DARA encyclosphere reader brings in IPFS.This is a completely independent organization, using IPFS to save and display copies of ZWI files on the fly (the IPFS-stored version is here—same result as opening the magnet link) as well as act as another seeder for WebTorrent. The DARA Project is interested in acting as an independent encyclosphere aggregator. Others are more than welcome!

For this work we would like to acknowledge our lead developers, Dr. Sergei Chekanov (EncycloReader, etc.) and Henry Sanger (EncycloSearch, etc.), as well as volunteers and partners, Shelly Warren (WordPress plugin), Christian Gribneau (DID:PSQR), and as of a few weeks ago, Louis Miles, of DARA. I also kept my hand in the dev game by writing zwiformat.rb myself.

I mean…is it fair to say we’ve been busy? I think we’ve made good progress. Agree? Please help keep us in business developing free network tools and content. Your $25, $50, $100 or more will go a long way. And unlike a certain other encyclopedia project (which is flush with millions and millions of corporate dollars we are bound by policy to refuse), your money is both needed and sure to be well spent!


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