The original proposal for this project, by Rick Gates, was for volunteers
to cooperatively write a new encyclopedia, put it in the public domain, and
make it available on the Internet. Participants on the mailing-list have
expanded the concept by noting that the bibliography entries and references
provided with Interpedia articles could include hypertext links to other
resources available on the Internet. Unlike any printed encyclopedia, the
Interpedia could be kept completely up-to-date. Indeed, it could include
hypertext links to ongoing discussions, and perhaps evolve into a general
interface to all resources and activities on the Internet.
Currently, the Interpedia project has two components:
-- bringining together and integrating text (etc.) from a wide
variety of sources
-- bringing together and integrating software (or ideas from existing
software to provide a wide variety of access or linking methods,
including hypertext, menus, relational operators, and template-matching.
The software side of the project as almost an exact parallel to
the textual (etc.) side of the project. Rick Gates proposed writing
new text and collecting public-domain text from around the net to
form a public domain encyclopedia. The more recent software sub-project
is very similar: to write new software and collect public-domain
software from around the net, to form a public-domain general interface
to the Internet, based on an encyclopedia metaphor.
The Interpedia as currently envisioned can also be a tool to support its
own development, with links from articles on encyclopedias to those
on the Interpedia, and from there to the software which implements
the encyclopedia metaphor.
Because of the organizational powers of the Interpedia, the software
collection it includes will be well cross-referenced and documented
though various links, and will therefore be completely self-documenting
and self-maintaining. It will be its own configuration control system,
its own development library, and its own groupware.
Given a piece of source-code, relational operators will provide links
to its detailed and high-level design, the requirements it is to meet,
the test procedure to verify that it works, the prototype that proved
it could work, the author of that prototype, the rest of the development
team working on related issues, the ongoing e-mail discussion of related
issues, and the live talk or chat mode discussion of alternative
algorithms, and the Interpedia articles on linear algebra and artificial
intelligence in which the theoretical foundations are established.
I would like to point out that this idea of the Interpedia as a very
powerful tool for software development is an idea which could generate
some interest in the software industry itself, where configuration
control and online documentation are ongoing problems. We expect to
develop some strategic connections with the industry, who would
benefit from whatever is developed, and should therefore be willing
to provide some resources to aid in its development.
I would like to encourage software developers and other people interested
in new software ideas and the future of the Internet to join in the
discussion of the Interpedia and its software. I can make various
semi-technical messages containing preliminary analysis and design
notes, and will soon be able to supply prototype source code.
At present the discussion list is moderated and a daily digest sent to
members. To join the list send a message with a subject of 'subscribe'
to interpedi...@telerama.lm.com. Archives of the digest are
available via anonymous ftp from ftp.lm.com, 22.214.171.124, in the
pub/interpedia directory. Earlier messages may be examined by
gopher: gopher twinbrook.cis.uab.edu, or traverse gopherspace to the
University of Alabama at Birmingham, CIS department, select Internet
Resource Discovery, then select The Interpedia Project. Some very
exciting ideas are to be found there, which have attracted the
attention of several well-known netizens. Join us and see what all
the excitement is about!
This sounds all well and good, but do we need yet another clone of
gopher/Mosiac/WWW/WAIS? Please tell us how these new concepts for the
Interpedia project are differentiated from these other projects.
An encyclopedia that is accessible from gopher is, IMHO, a good thing.
A new version (unless it is a compatable superset) of services already
available seems like overkill.
"For thousands of years, homoeopathic magic was known to the sorcerors of
ancient India, Babylon and Egypt, as well as of Greece and Rome, and at this
day it is still resorted to by cunning and malignant savages in Silicon
Valley, California." -- Anonymous
in c.i.www someone else (Axel Boldt) posted and said they want to use www,
w/ a new URL/URN "x-interpedia:"
The convex hull of all disclaimers made on usenet last year applies to this mess
I'd like to make the first entry: "Earth -- mostly harmless"