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Wikibooks, Open Source Books

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Jun. 24th, 2008 | 09:17 am

One of the projects I am working on right now needs a manual, not just man pages, but an actual manual.

My goals:

  • Online All documentation should be online and editable online. Anyone should be able to edit it. Anyone should be able to extend it. We live in a Wiki world, and the day and age of collaborating via controlled copies is over. (And yes, this is something I very much dislike about the MySQL Manual)

  • Hosted Find a hosted solution that I do not have to maintain. Maintaining software takes valuable time from me. I only keep hosting mailing lists but Google Apps lacks this feature. For a Wiki? Someone else can do it. The solution needs to be non-onerous though.

  • Exportable. Sometimes you want a book in your hands, and for this reason I think books in the "it is a dead tree Jim" are good things. Skip a few years into the future and it is probably going to be an electronic book. People still want to have the book in their hands. In a perfect world they will want to have it in their hands, be able to change it in their hands, and then synchronize the transfer of their corrections back to the main book.

  • Information Should be Free No one should have to pay to access it, and just as importantly I want to make sure that anyone is free to take the book from the website and print it. If an outside publisher can print a thousand copies and sell it, I think that it is awesome. No onerous sign up processes. Anonymous is quite fine.

    So what do you think? Wikibooks? Is there another solution out there?
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    Comments {17}

    Brian "Krow" Aker

    (no subject)

    from: krow
    date: Jun. 24th, 2008 08:54 pm (UTC)
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    Let me put this in context. I have made very little off books, and computer books in general are not that profitable. To make a living off of them you will need to publish a lot of them each year.

    So for me making money is about people using my software. If the documentation draws more people in that is awesome. User base matters to me, not a few pennies from a book.

    Is this true for all contexts? No, but I do find that we humans do not get "intellectual property" at all. I am ok with this, because I believe there a good reason we reject it (aka we want to keep evolving).

    I should have probably have said "wants" instead of "should" but I find with my work it really does benefit me to keep it freely available.

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    Egor Egorov

    (no subject)

    from: egorfine
    date: Jun. 24th, 2008 09:05 pm (UTC)
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    Aha, so the context here changes everything. Got this :)

    You know, I've seen people promoting "openness" as a dogma (we are not going to point our fingers at Stallman, don't we?), and didn't quite understood what this all means:)

    I believe people do not accept intellectual property simply because of their sensor feelings. When you own a thing, a real thing, and someone steals that thing from you - you don't have it anymore. Not the same for IP - if someone stole it, you ... still have it. You see, ownership of IP is unnatural! This is why it's hard, psychologically, to accept it. Do you agree?

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    Brian "Krow" Aker

    (no subject)

    from: krow
    date: Jun. 24th, 2008 09:23 pm (UTC)
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    Yep, I agree with you that it is based on wanting our little monkey fingers to grasp it.

    I hum a song? Who is to blame for me lifting the copyright when I reproduce it? (or butcher it!).

    What do I keep as an open debate? Whether or not I care about commercial only modules linking to my stuff. As long as the API is open I really do not find that I care all that much. If the API is open, I can always implement my own if I care. Where I personally do not care to write closed modules, I do not really care if others do or not.

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