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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?
  • Link | Leave a comment |

    Comments {17}

    awfief

    (no subject)

    from: awfief
    date: Jun. 24th, 2008 08:56 pm (UTC)
    Link

    That's the difference between "should" and "must".

    We all "should" have clean water too.

    The only reason you want to sell it is because you need money to buy things, everything from the basics like food and shelter on upwards to things that make you think "hey, I'm pretty smart, I invented something useful and I have the BMW to prove it!"

    I agree with Brian's opinion that information should be free. It stems from my belief that so much growth has come from using information from previous work, "standing on the shoulders of giants" if you will. If every generation had to re-invent oral speech, then written speech, basic tools, on up to computing systems, we'd never make any "progress".

    There is a certain luxury in being able to give away what you spent hundreds of hours on; and this is a luxury I have been giving away ever since I was a poor college student, going to a soup kitchen for food when I didn't have enough for groceries (lest you think it's only the independently wealthy that have that luxury).

    That being said, there's nothing wrong with trying to sell a product you invested time in. Most of what I do, I do not mind giving it away for free, particularly if it would not be done otherwise.

    Reply | Parent | Thread

    Egor Egorov

    (no subject)

    from: egorfine
    date: Jun. 24th, 2008 09:10 pm (UTC)
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    But when you think about society that doesn't require money to buy things, then you'll end up with... communism. Not a bad idea, btw, but totally impractical.

    You see, I understand that point of view. I myself do give away information for free, spending hours and hours creating it, I don't mind.

    But I cannot believe that market supports it. Say, I need a consulting - I go and buy it. And this consulting (information) exists exactly and only because there are people that are willing to pay for it. If this information will turn free, then it won't exist at all. To a certain degree, of course, it's not a one-bit world:)

    Reply | Parent | Thread

    Brian "Krow" Aker

    (no subject)

    from: krow
    date: Jun. 24th, 2008 09:29 pm (UTC)
    Link

    With consulting you are paying for someone's time :)

    You are paying to not do/learn something yourself. I can change my own oil, but I just pay someone to do it now a days (this was not always true).

    Communism? I find it about as impractical as pure capitalism. Open source I believe has far more to do with capitalism then communism. Open source is about bringing down costs, and offering up alternative models. We make billions into millions and take a piece for ourselves.

    No market protection :)

    Reply | Parent | Thread

    Egor Egorov

    (no subject)

    from: egorfine
    date: Jun. 24th, 2008 09:51 pm (UTC)
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    "Open source I believe has far more to do with capitalism then communism."

    Ha! Didn't thought of it like that:) Nice point :)


    Reply | Parent | Thread

    Arjen Lentz

    it doesn't quite work that way...

    from: arjen_lentz
    date: Jun. 24th, 2008 11:21 pm (UTC)
    Link

    What you describe is not communism. But that's deviating rather too far from this thread.

    If you have expertise in a certain topic, writing openly about it and giving lots of info away does not hurt. In fact, it can help you in terms of marketing, recognition of your expertise, good karma, and so on. So you will be able to sell consulting and training effectively.
    Bits of good advice, or even a whole reference manual, are not the same as years of experience.

    Reply | Parent | Thread

    Egor Egorov

    Re: it doesn't quite work that way...

    from: egorfine
    date: Jun. 24th, 2008 11:34 pm (UTC)
    Link

    True, this is the marketing lesson the whole world learned from MySQL :)

    Reply | Parent | Thread