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Paint the Moon
Nobel Prize for Jo
A New Project Idea 17 March 2005
I'm probably not going to do anything with this, other than put it in my next novel, but I had this idea . . .
Familiar with Wikipedia? It's a community-source internet encyclopedia project which now has something like 4 million entries, all created and submitted by people who are knowledgeable on a particular subject (that's what I mean by calling it a 'community-source' - a version of 'open-source' software). It is based on the premise that collectively, we know all that can be known, and that if people just share their knowledge you can have an encyclopedia which is more complete and current than anything else available.
So, here's my idea: have a similar sort of project which is designed not to collect and share formal knowledge, such as you would find in an encyclopedia, but rather the informal knowledge which is necessary to survive in the world. Stuff like "how to iron a shirt" or the best way to plant bulbs in a flower garden. This information is available, of course, but you might have to search through a dozen different sites to find the practical knowledge you actually need. Instead, by collecting practical information based on real people's experience into one site, you'd always know where to go.
The rules would be fairly simple: anyone could state a problem they'd encountered, how they resolved it, and provide an explanation of why they chose to resolve it that way. I have a different way of ironing a shirt than my wife does. Both of us have very good reasons why we do it the way we do it. Both methods are effective and yield a similar result. In my project, both techniques would be presented, along with their explaining rationales, and people could choose which one appealed to them. Multiply this principle by a few million problems, multiple solution entries per problem, perhaps a rating system so that visitors to the site could rank the usefulness of the information, and there you'd have it: www.doitmyway.org
You'd have to organize the topics, of course, and would probably even want to have an "Adults Only" section which dealt with matters inappropriate for minors. But it could be a powerful resource for practical living, and an insightful database for the people who make and sell products, people wanting to document life in these times, et cetera.
I think it's a very good, very practical idea. I'm not going to pursue it because it would require a massive amount of time and start-up capital, but if anyone is interested in doing so, I'll be happy to sign on as a consultant or member of the Board of Directors . . .
all work © James T. Downey, 1993-2006
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