A while back we agreed to set up a wiki and also a discussion forum associated to this blog. The idea is this: we accumulate lots of interesting information here, but that information is hard to find, because it’s not well organized. So, let’s put it on a wiki! But how should this wiki work? Well, we can talk about that on the discussion forum.
Now the wiki and the discussion forum have been created, thanks to Andrew Stacey:
• The wiki is called The Azimuth Project, and it will start out looking a lot like this.
• the forum is called The Azimuth Forum, and it will start out looking a lot like this.
I don’t mind drastic changes if someone else is willing to put in the work to make them. With luck, vast improvements will occur over time. But for now, this is what we’ve got.
But there are still some basic decisions to be made.
You see, all this stuff already happened once before, back when I worked on a branch of math called n-category theory. First a team of people started a blog: the n-Category Café. We accumulated so much information that we decided to put it on a wiki: the nLab. But it proved hard to make decisions about the nLab using the blog, since on a typical blog, only blog hosts can start conversations. So Andrew created the nForum.
It worked great, so I’m trying to copy that pattern using the exact same technology. But there are some differences.
First of all, last time it all evolved organically. We had a team of bloggers who agreed about what to do. I would love to get a team of bloggers here on Azimuth, and I intend to, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Second, the topics I’m discussing now are more controversial. Nobody cares about n-categories, except for people who actually understand them. Everybody cares about climate change, nuclear energy, and so on — including lots of people who are quite ignorant of the details. The stakes are higher, and the fundamental differences of opinion harder to reconcile.
So, I’ve got some questions. For example:
Should everyone be allowed to make changes to the Azimuth Project wiki, or just people who are qualified in some way? Should everyone be allowed to discuss things on the Azimuth Forum, or just people who are qualified in some way?
Of course, we can also just wing it: try something, and see if it works.
I want things to take off quickly, but I want them to work reasonably well. Discussions are necessary to correct errors and figure things out, but I don’t want people to waste a lot of time in unproductive flame wars. I don’t mind if people argue heatedly in an area designated for that purpose: the Azimuth Forum can be configured to make this easy. But I want to work with people who roughly agree with my overall approach, not fight with people who don’t.
What’s my overall approach? Well, you can begin to see it from this blog so far. But I have big ambitions: I want to create a focal point for scientists and engineers interested in saving the planet, and make clearly presented, accurate information on the relevant issues easy to find.
Please help me figure this out. I want to get this thing started.