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wikibooks for young and old
April 7, 2006 10:30 PM   Subscribe

Wikibooks manuals and textbooks in wiki form, from the wikimedia foundation. Lots of language lessons. Some of the books leave lot to be desired though.
posted by delmoi (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Some of the books leave lot to be desired though.

mumblemumble community mumblemumble fix it! mumble
posted by slater at 12:56 AM on April 8, 2006


Although the last link is... ahem... incomplete, it's still taught me more about serial programming than I knew when I woke up this morning.
posted by greycap at 1:17 AM on April 8, 2006


Very interesting!
posted by knave at 1:55 AM on April 8, 2006


Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?
posted by ryanrs at 2:51 AM on April 8, 2006


I actually tried using one of these. They're awful. This is the worst possible use for a wiki.
posted by cillit bang at 5:30 AM on April 8, 2006


That awful wikibook? French. Winner of Wikibook's book of the month? French.
posted by cillit bang at 5:34 AM on April 8, 2006


Wikipedia wasn't that great when it first started either. I know from talking to industry reps that if this takes off it is going to result in rapid, explosive defecation.

Many of the books are accompanied by PDF downloads of themselves that can be printed and bound for a few bucks.
posted by craniac at 6:19 AM on April 8, 2006


Unique Languages

Some languages do not have any tenses. This means that there is only one way to say a verb. Imagine saying I go to school yesterday. In these languages, words like yesterday and tomorrow are used to say when you did something. Other languages even use pictures!
WTF? There's no point even trying to edit this crap. I agree with cillit bang: This is the worst possible use for a wiki.
posted by languagehat at 6:25 AM on April 8, 2006


I know the existing content leaves a lot to be desired; why is this not a good use of a wiki?
posted by sneebler at 7:23 AM on April 8, 2006


Because bookwriting (and especially teaching) are creative endeavors. It requires a whole different level of decision making to putting together a short article on something inherently factual.

Also, books are designed to be actually read. Wikipedia articles are generally skimmed over, so that as long as they have the right collection of factoids, they can get away with being completely unreadable (which even the best articles are).
posted by cillit bang at 7:35 AM on April 8, 2006


I think cillit bang is exactly right about this. Which isn't to say you can't have a community based book witting effort, but it would require more organisation than the wikipedia model offers.

How about SourceForge books?
posted by Chuckles at 9:31 AM on April 8, 2006


mumblemumble community mumblemumble fix it! mumble

From The Register: There's nothing wrong with Wikipedia that isn't summed up by the fiddlers' problematic war cry of "if you don't like it, fix it!" It's really rather like being urged to liven up a boring stranger's very poorly-attended party by showing up. Of course it would make it more interesting. But why should anyone bother? There may be a good reason no one shows up in the first place.
posted by Ian A.T. at 11:48 AM on April 8, 2006


Wikipedia handled the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy quite effectively, but gets in trouble on evolution.

And this is the problem with wikibooks, its OR & NPOV rules are designed for an encyclopedia, not text books. It may work for duplicating standard texts, but an academic publishing wiki is needed for more serious books, or even just more interesting books about standard topics. Such an academic wiki needs, almost by definition, to use the same criteria as academic, including real authorship notions.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:20 PM on April 8, 2006


I actually think that the Wikibooks content would improve if they had a better data model. As it is, you just write page, as in Wikipedia. There's no hierarchical organization above the unit of page, so when you want to add a chapter, you have to manually add it to the table of contents. When you number subsections, or chapters, or whatever, you have to manually type "4.3", rather than letting that stuff be generated automatically.

All that stuff makes it difficult to programatically edit Wikibooks (and Wikipedia) content, which makes it difficult for people to work on the content from some real editor rather than a friggin textarea. You can get by with that in Wikipedia, where each fundamental work unit is of a manageable length, but for longer works like books, its just too awkward to do large amounts of work through their interface.
posted by gsteff at 10:01 PM on April 8, 2006


Neet idea gsteff: use a control page/file to organize section related files, as one does with latex. You actually can do *that* now, as wikipedia does with deletion repest pages, buty ou can't subject it to number, etc.

Wikinews also asymptotically-fails-it more seriously by using titles to uniquely identify articles. It seems wiki software is not one size fits all, but a common background rendering engine is beneficial.

I'd want to see a "program this site" wiki for database driven sites: Your site allows people to edit the source code for pages, but the code executes in a protected enviroment. It'd mean new site ideas would develop more quickly.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:55 AM on April 9, 2006


I'd want to see a "program this site" wiki for database driven sites: Your site allows people to edit the source code for pages, but the code executes in a protected enviroment. It'd mean new site ideas would develop more quickly.

Hah! That already exists. Its called Zope (although they don't really describe it in those terms).
posted by gsteff at 11:06 AM on April 9, 2006


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