|Hello encyclopedia lovers,|
We have plenty of news to share.
First, we’d like to sincerely thanks those who contributed during our end-of-year fundraiser! We are delighted to have so many supporters. And at the same time, we raised an additional, and unexpected, $100,000 from FUTO—thanks to them.
Your ongoing support and volunteer help are requested; see #2 and 4–8 below.
We continue to make significant progress on many fronts. Here is a brief summary of some highlights:
1. New encyclopedias added, many more in the pipeline.
This year, we are expanding the coverage of the Encyclosphere (i.e., the total set of open databases of ZWI files), so that it covers more and more of the encyclosphere (i.e., the total set of all encyclopedias). Recently, between ER and ES, we have added the conservative encyclopedia Conservapedia, the left-wing Rationalwiki, the health care encyclopedia MDWiki, and the New World Encyclopedia. To add many more, though, we will have to increase our server capacity. On that topic, see the last item (#8) below.
2. Encyclosphere merch is here!
If you want to show your support for the cause (and the KSF does get a cut of the proceeds), then you can now pick up an Encyclosphere mug, t-shirt, hoodie, or cap at our online store. Many thanks to Alicia Bellini Design, Inc., for volunteering with this.
3. Encyclone.org, a Yacy-powered encyclopedia search engine.
A new experimental project, Encyclone, has launched. Based on the open source Yacy search engine software, this provides crawler data from 35 different encyclopedias (and counting) to the Yacy community. While the Yacy search results are not as feature-rich, or frankly as useful, as our own EncycloReader (ER) and EncycloSearch (ES), it does allow us, with Encyclone, to quickly crawl different potential sources and to see what it will be like to include them in the Encyclosphere. If you are a developer and have any interest in working on this further, respond to this email. (Our lead developers do not have a lot of time to devote to it.)
4. Extensive free database of encyclopedias started: librarian and database help requested.
The KSF has started to compile a list of encyclopedias (744 entries and counting) and would like help evolving it into a database with a web app front-end. The main purpose of the database is to accelerate populating the Encyclosphere. We will use the database as the list of candidates to add to Encyclone, and later, ER & ES. Furthermore, the OEDP digitizes public domain paper encyclopedias so that they, too, can be added to Encyclone (via our Oldpedia.org) and to the encyclosphere. We know there are thousands of encyclopedias digitized to one degree or another in the archive.org collections.
Our list today includes 744 rows, with many duplicates that need to be merged. We believe there are thousands of encyclopedias (and encyclopedia-like) online, and we estimate tens of thousands of encyclopedias have been published over the years in all languages. Let’s add them all, eventually, to the Encyclosphere! The first step is to list them. We could use the help of bibliographers and front-end database programmers who like the idea. Respond to this email if you’re interested.
5. DARA builds the first aggregator independent of the KSF; others more than welcome.
A new Encyclosphere aggregator, found at encyclopedia.dara.global, shows the decentralizability of the aggregator component of the network. DARA also does something we had not been doing before, namely, adding ZWI files to the IPFS network, which is similar to the Torrent networks, which (in the form of WebTorrent) our Encyclosphere browser plugin uses to deliver articles in a fully decentralized way (have you installed it yet? I use it daily). DARA is also seeding articles in the WebTorrent network that the plugin uses. The Sifter.news team has also started asking for help setting up an aggregator, and no fewer than three encyclopedia projects have said they would be tying in to the Encyclosphere in similar ways (Botipedia, Justapedia, and another, unannounced one). What the latter sort of encyclopedia integration means, by the way, is that the encyclopedias will be posting and signing their own ZWI files, as Citizendium and Handwiki already do, using our MediaWiki plugin. Please join our Slack group and introduce yourself, if you’re interested.
6. DARA saves copies of all deleted Wikipedia articles; markup project needed.
Some background first: some of the articles that Wikipedia deletes actually deserve to be deleted. But many are deleted for political reasons or due to poor policies, or misapplications of legitimate policies. Wikipedia has firmly come down in the “deletionist” camp. Boo! Hiss! For a long time, Deletionpedia.org collected deleted articles, but it apparently has not been updated since. The DARA team now supports a new “Wikipedia Death Row,” which saves the articles nominated for deletion.
Note, however, a problem: since this database has some (on almost anybody’s view) useless stuff (copyvios, literal nonsense, spam, illegal stuff, opinionizing, and other non-encyclopedic text), the KSF search engines do not want to simply incorporate DARA’s unedited list, and I don’t think DARA has time to mark up their list. So somebody needs to help them to publish an edit of the “Death Row” database, or to take their data and publish an edit themselves, without Wikipedia’s ridiculously strict “notability” standards, etc., but still getting rid of the copyvios, spam, etc., too. We will be happy to incorporate an edited/marked-up database. But meanwhile, the full database will still be available via “Death Row,” and in ZWI format, too. Respond to this email if you’re interested.
7. Old Encyclopedia Digitization Project volunteers now needed!
The software that yours truly has been handcrafting to convert ABBYY FineReader HTML output into ZWI files is in an advanced state. So, finally, there is something for not-totally-technical encyclopedia editors to do. The OEDP is converting old paper encyclopedias into digital article collections in ZWI format. Would you like to learn (or do you already know about) OCR, i.e., software that converts high-quality images of pages into editable text? Soon after you finish with the OCR post-processing, your work will be visible on Oldpedia.org, as you can see in this article and this one, and your work will then propagate to the rest of the world via the Encyclosphere network. So this is an opportunity for you to digitize and preserve old paper encyclopedias, and to make them more easily usable (not just in PDFs). That can be highly useful and interesting for various purposes.
What would this work be like? The KSF will pay for your subscription to ABBYY FineReader (AFR); you would use this to output an HTML file, scans, and images. This does take training. You do not need to know HTML to do this work. Most of the work is (or resembles) proofreading and manuscript preparation, but not copyediting: you’re not exactly making a new edition of the text, you’re preparing a digital copy of the text that matches the original printed pages, more or less. I will be available to train and help you, and another volunteer, Dr. Nancy Hildebrandt, can help as well. If you are a student (from the high school level and up), bear in mind you’ll be working directly with us, and if it would help you, you could call your participation an internship with the Knowledge Standards Foundation. Naturally, there is a style guidelines document you would be implementing; that would give you a better idea of what you’d be doing. (More specifically, you’d be following sections V and VI of the document; section VII is more technical, and is something Nancy and I do.) Respond to this email if you’re interested.
8. Fundraising for equipment coming soon.
We want to grow the Encyclosphere by 10x this year. We will soon be asking for donations earmarked specifically for a rack of servers, needed drives, and co-location costs thereof. We are now gathering information about the best sort of equipment, and the best way to acquire it, needed to ensure that the Knowledge Standards Foundation has resources to host ultimately 100TB or more of data on our websites and aggregators. Our plan is to co-locate our own servers, and maybe eventually (once we have determined best practices), to offer a paid service to purchase and install similar co-located servers for other organizations. If you have any expertise acquiring and co-locating several servers, please respond to this email with advice, or pointers to advice. We want to be part of a movement to own and control our own hardware and to put useful data on it—not mainly, but definitely including “misinformation” that the Establishment would like to censor. This is an essential part of fighting back against the forces of censorship that are amassing against free thought.
Please click around and check out our projects. Check out our volunteer and development project opportunities, and consider joining us!
All the best,
Dr. Larry Sanger
President, Knowledge Standards Foundation