What is the encyclosphere?
It is a network of encyclopedias—rather, it is the network of encyclopedias, presently existing and future, large and small. Think of the encyclosphere by analogy with the blogosphere. Bloggers work entirely independently of each other, but because they make their posts available in feeds, “blog readers” make it possible to aggregate all the blogs for the convenience of readers. It’s the sharing economy at its finest.
We want to do the same thing for encyclopedia articles: we want to make the universal network of encyclopedias.
Wait, so is the encyclosphere…an encyclopedia?
No, nor does it compete with encyclopedias. It is a network added to, and in support of, encyclopedias, making it easier to find information in them.
Is it a meta-search engine, then?
No, although the network will make meta-search engines easier and more quickly and reliably updated.
So does the encyclosphere exist yet?
No. As of 2021, it is still just an idea.
When will the encyclosphere be ready?
It is hard to say; we do not yet have a timetable. We want to do it right. A few components are already in development and even finished, many others not even started or in planning stages. Before we can even publish standards we need to have a suitably in-depth deliberative process for deciding what, precisely, they should look like.
How are we making this encyclosphere?
Since the encyclosphere is a network, it will have many independent parts. The Knowledge Standards Foundation’s job is essentially to motivate, shepherd, and occasionally to pay for the creation of the various parts.
The KSF—maybe with your help, if you are an Internet engineer sort—will publish technical standards for encyclopedia articles and their metadata, according to which they may be freely shared in a decentralized, neutral, and uncensored fashion. The standards should also permit rating by the general public.
We will also be running a seminar and forum (free, donation encouraged, registration required) in 2021 for discussion and development of such standards (i.e. any registered member may post an article). We may start various other initiatives directly in line with these goals, such as supporting open source software development. Such software projects would not aim to develop encyclopedias or even encyclopedia readers, but to develop the technical infrastructure. See our Gitlab repos. You could ask on Slack for access.
By “standards,” you mean editorial standards, right?
No, this is a misunderstanding. We are not writing editorial standards. We are writing technical standards for an encyclopedia network. We want the network to be as independent and neutral of editorial standards as possible. We want people to be able to participate without having to agree to any particular editorial standards at all, which might be very difficult.
How do I reach out to the community? Can I post to the Slack group? The blog? The forum?
Yes. Different avenues have different purposes:
The Slack group is for more passing, “evanescent,” short-form discussion. Relatively undeep thoughts. This is a good place to ask basic questions as well as to engage in some discussion of development nitty-gritty, etc.
The forum is for discussion that is of perennial interest (i.e., we’ll want to keep coming back to the questions). Good for discussions of long-term policy.
The blog is for official KSF announcements and long-form proposals and discussion from guests (maybe you).
Is this project active? I looked on X, and not much seems to be happening there.
Yes, it’s active. There’s stuff going on behind the scenes. If you reach out, someone will answer for sure. Try the Slack group.