Collaborative writing for WWW

changes afoot

Things are moving so far as my ideas about collaboration are concerned, so this page is due for replacement. However I don't have time just now, so I'm just going to make some notes here about why and how my attitude to collaboration is changing, and leave the original rather conservative, arms-length, position statement in place for the time being.

What's happening is this. On the logic/technology side of Factasia, I have been feeling that getting better technology underpinning the writing is long overdue. I have to move into a position in which I can do formal work in my writings in such a way that the formal materials are readable over the web (as web deliverable literate scripts), which are fed through appropriate tools (e.g. proof tools) so that the results are also nicely presented for viewing over the web. When I talk about what logic is, I have to give an account of how specific logics can be formally defined, and when I talk about specific logics I have to be able to define them formally and preferably get some automatic functionality from the definition (preferably, a formal semantics which is also an embedding into a proof tool supported foundational language such as HOL).

The upshot is that I have to get into some slightly more serious software engineering and a more complex site build process. I had in mind using XML for the literate scripts, and gradually as I familiarised myself with XML and related standards I realigned my ideas about how to progress the engineering side of my logic until I was looking at a new project. The project is X-Logic, the embyro of which you can see up at SourceForge.net.

While I have been working on getting this project set up (which has been a fairly painful business so far, and I still have a long way to go), hassle notwithstanding, it has gradually insinuated itself into my mindset about everything that I do. So I am expecting that in due course, all my "writing" (in which, as originally expected, writing english prose gets ever more intricately muddled with literate software engineering and other more formal activities) will be done in collaborative projects which are organised rather like Open Source software developments. My inclination is at present to do this with everything, at the same time splitting Factasia into at least four separate projects. Factasia (Utopian Engineering), OpenMind (formal development of Analytic Philosophy), OpenBrand.org (OpenSource business models for intellectual technology development and foe utopian engineering) and X-Logic.org (XML based generic logic technologies). These correspond very roughly to the two sides of The Global Superbrain in Factasia The Analytic Superbrain being underpinned by OpenMind and X-Logic, and The Holistic Superbrain progressed in the new Factasia underpinned by OpenBrand.org.

Initially the impact of this will be slower development at the Factasia web site while the other projects get off the ground, but eventually Factasia will be replaced by an OpenSource collaborative utopian engineering site, more narrowly focussed that the present site because of the transfer of some of the present scope into the logic and analytic philosophy projects.

Previous Position Statement

WWW is an ideal medium for collaboration between authors.

An example of effective collaboration between authors in preparing material for delivery over WWW is Principia Cybernetica. In a weaker sense almost any writing for WWW which contains any links is a kind of collaboration, and in this weak sense I am already engaged in a collaboration through the links which I use in my work and the use by others of links to my space.

I intend to make greater use of links to other sites in the future, as an integral part of real content, rather than just in pages of links largely devoid of other content. There is already much richer real content in WWW than there was when I began, and this creates greater opportunities for using by reference other material on WWW.

It may be worth me noting ways in which I'm not interested in collaborating.

I think of myself as an author for this new medium. The same as someone who writes books, except I write exclusively for WWW. I'm trying to get to the point where I have written something worthwhile and substantial, and I'm also trying to establish a readership, which in WWW terms is just traffic volume through this site. I have this expectation that if I ever get a decent sustained level of traffic then I will be able to find a way to earn a living out of writing for WWW and then be able to give up my day job and devote more time to writing. I don't know whether I'll ever make it, but I'm giving it my best shot.

Satisfied readers and traffic volume are important to me, and that means that I'm not going to collaborate in the way that the Principia Cybernetica authors collaborate. It also means that however interesting someone else's pages on some topic dear to my heart might be, I'm not going to help them maintain their pages.

On the other hand, I will refer to their pages wherever it fits into my theme, and I'll be glad for them to refer to mine wherever they like.

I'm interested in the big picture. I like working on a large canvass. WWW is good for that because the rest of the web is there for me to fill in detail by reference. I'm looking to get much better at doing that.

My ideal collaboration would be with others of similar bent each working in complementary areas, where we each retain complete control over our own sites, and each deliver a fuller picture than we could alone by extensive cross referencing. Each has his own big picture sewn together partly by original writing and partly by hyperlinking to someone elses material.

This is just the way the web works anyway, why make a big deal of it?

Some principles of collaboration:

  1. You may use my images, either by reference or by copying, without asking my permission.
  2. You may make use of any other material at this site by reference. You don't need to ask me, but I am interested to know, and if I like what you are doing it might influence me to extend my own material in complementary ways.
  3. Almost all of the material on this site is marked with my copyright (© RBJ). Apart from the images you do not have my permission to copy it.
  4. I will make use, by reference only, of any material you put up which helps me paint my big picture. If you think you have something that I might like to refer to I'd be very grateful to know about it. However, I never attempt to maintain comprehensive lists of references on any topic whatever, so I will exercise arbitrary discretion in deciding whether to include any URL's which I am sent.

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