FreoWiki is go! (Or GoFreo is a wiki?)

We had a great gathering last night at Little Creatures to talk about FreoWiki (including what to call it; one suggestion is GoFreo). Some topics…

  • It’s all set up and good to go, at http://freo.org.au/;
  • The site overall is licenced under CC Attribution 2.5 Australia, but people can put whatever licences they want on individual pages or media;
  • Some ideas are being bounced around about alternatives to FreoWiki as a name;
  • The Fremantle Herald might be interested in adding their archival content to FreoWiki—at the moment they’re only keeping the four most recent editions on their site, and we could host a complete archive;
  • Personal, first-person content is desirable: people’s recollections of Fremantle, or visions for its future;
  • The entry page needs to look good, and (visually) convey what it’s all about;
  • We’ll make cards to hand out to people, with some small bit of info about FreoWiki, and a URL with a blank after it (i.e. freo.org.au/_____________) in which we can write the name of the page that we’re suggesting people use; e.g. to a business owner, with the name of their business (then we scurry home and quickly add some content to that page);
  • Good thought needs to be given to ways of ensuring longevity of the project (if it takes off), both technical (backups etc.) and organisational;
  • We should enable using media from Commons (already done);
  • Plus lots of other stuff that I can’t right now remember!

So now it’s time to start adding content! :-) The easy bit, really.

Semantic MediaWiki and Me

Stone was right, that photo I posted last night of Sol-R was rubbish. I appologise. But I make no claims to be any sort of a photographer other than one who records the existence of things, and not their particular light-patterns. The photographic collection of 20th century telegraph poles notwithstanding, of course.

Which brings me to Semantic MediaWiki. Or, it doesn’t really, but through some elongated and multi-noded decision tree it does. I am trying to set SMW set up on the FS site, and it’s doing funny things to my head. I even had dreams about it last night! A strange feeling of being unable to bootstrap the whole show: one must set up these data entities (the templates; am I right here?), each comprising some number of properties, and without which it’s odd to set up other entities whose properties are of this entity’s type. Agh. Sleepy brain can’t handle!

Of course, the main problem is that I’m used to building data models in ‘proper’ programming languages, and SMW — or, rather, MediaWiki, with it’s horrible syntax, that I can see I’m just going to have to force myself to love — is a fairly different way of thinking. It’s not vastly different, because still we’re buiding a classic (as in, class-ic, or ‘of class’, as a lecturer of mine used to be fond of distincting [is that a word?]) system, where entities have properties, and those properties have types, and those types are entities. The weird part of it is that wiki pages define all of these, and they define the data!

The point that I’m getting to is that this should make more sense to an OOP programmer than more common ways of doing this. Because an object of a class encapsulates behaviour, structure, and data! So where’s my data in a Java app? In the flippin’ database! And in SMW? Right there: with the structure and behav… oh, hang on… this isn’t a programming language. It has aspects of one. But by gosh it’s annoying to code in….

Well. I didn’t think that out too carefully did I? A vaunting of SMW as somehow making more intuitive sense than a proper language? Silly me. I’m just getting tied up in all that persistent object storage stuff, and I don’t feel up to that on a Thursday (Thursdays are for visiting friends and having a little something, after all!) so I shall give up now.

I’ll get back to building a coming-events-calendar on the FS wiki, which, it turns out, is not such a complicated business after all.

WordPress TwentyTen theme ported to MediaWiki

Last week I needed a simple, reader-focused skin for a MediaWiki install, and I figured WordPress’ TwentyTen theme would be suitable. So I ported it to MediaWiki.

The skin can be downloaded from Github, and I’ve also added it to the MediaWiki gallery of user styles.

Documentation

The documenting of how we live, where we live, what we do — that’s what I’m interested in. And it’s a waste of time, really, in that it doesn’t contribute to any of those things (oh, of course that’s simplifying it too much; oh well). It’s also necessary to live, to be of the world, to construct and do.

Being an observer is quite entertaining in its own right. Sitting, looking, writing; it’s a nice enough way to pass the time. I used to do it, alone and with fountain pen and Moleskine, on a street corner; that was good, but around 2001 I found this whole world of people doing and thinking similar things with ‘description’, out here on the web. Such excitement to be found in this throng! So now, I work at documenting and recording, editing wikis and building catalogues — not failing to recognise the recursive, self-modifying way that these activities impact how they’re done, but still aiming at something called ‘neutrality’, or ‘objectivity’ — and slowly watching things take shape. I’d give up, convince myself that this is actually stupid, if it weren’t for the many other people — the bloggers, Wikipedians, urbexers, hipsters — working in a similar vein. It’s the community, engaged with or not, that makes it worth it. (You should, of course, laugh at me for saying this; it’s cliqué and daftness, I know.)

But that’s not always enough, so I step back from the digital agglomeration: being an observer is exhausting, and seems to dull one’s concern about how one’s own life is lead. So, making steps in, for me, and I sew and work wood and brew beer and bake bread; worldly things, bringing sanity.

Anyway, I’m just once again trying to muddle through this dicotomy, and what I say probably isn’t quite on the mark. Unfortunately, the more I think about it, the less I can see a way through; probably not unpredictable, that. Oh well.