So, the idea for an Orange County "encyclopedia" (a wiki, if you're sufficiently savvy) isn't my own. It somewhat grew out of a suggestion a friend made here on OP. I started collecting information for my own purposes for a research project I'm doing to analyze the 2005 elections, and storing it in a wiki just made sense. But the true power of a wiki is that anyone and everyone is welcome to contribute, and it would be a shame to not put this power to work!

Orangepedia is a collection of public domain information thrown together from various sources and hyperlinked together. It's not finished, and won't ever be, but that's where you come in. Please, help me fill in the basics and then add whatever knowledge of local politics you might want. To link to another page, all you have to do is put a word or phrase inside [[double brackets]]. And I'm moderating, so please keep things clean - the same decency rules that you'll find on transfer nicely.

If it flops, it flops. But in the meanwhile, it's an interesting experiment in social computing.



I've had this idea for a while as well. I registered but haven't moved on it. Maybe we could get a group together of interested parties to brainstorm?

Brian and I discussed having getting some folk together a few times for an hour or two to kickstart the project. We'd set some topic area (say Chapel Hill land-use policies), divide into a few sub-topics (LUMO/Comprehensive Plan/Greene Tract Agreement/etc.) and divvy them up among the group. Then, over an hour or so, we'd do a crash search-and-retrieve mission to gather as much material as possible to build some "critical mass". The idea is that we could "sin in haste" (gather a huge amount of material quickly) and "repent in leisure" (edit the heap of material over a longer period of time).

Brillant Jason! I'll definitely participate. :D

I like the name, but frankly I prefer MediaWiki. If I was still in NC I'd love to help out.

Hopefully we can carry this. Thanks to all of you who have (anonymously) contributed. The DTH called me about Orangepedia this evening and put out a well-intentioned article about it.

"Web site to provide link to politics, residents"

A somewhat interesting take. I guess all publicity is good publicity, eh?

One of the next steps for me is going to be creating a style guide and a code of conduct for the project. Any takers?

It's great that you're leading this effort Jason.

Jason, it's interesting how what I thought a straightforward explanation can get filtered by the media.

I went on at great length about pulling together information on the context for policy decisions within our Town but also was careful to outline the broad nature of what you have created. I hope Orangepedia becomes a repository of historical, geographical, political, geological, biographical, etc. information on our community with a density of links between all those elements.

I agree that a basic code of conduct is necessary if we don't want the site to fall prey to wiki-rot. It'll be interesting to see how our community takes advantage of something like the orangepedia.

The likelihood of this quotation being true is simimlar to the odds of a DTH reporter writing a story about which they have any background knowledge:

Chapel Hill has become the first community to use wiki software to create a site that would allow members to add and edit information about their community, Raymond said.

Research, anyone?

Anyway I have posted some content on the wiki, mostly a history of the committees pertaining to the Horace Williams tract, a.k.a. Carolina North.

Ruby, I said that I'd asked Jimmy Wales if he was aware of any community that had used a wikipedia approach to building up a repository of stories, history, data on their community. I told the DTH he'd said that he wasn't aware of such an effort. The DTH reporter had told me, prior to this answer, she'd contacted the wikipedia folk and asked the same thing...

This kind of mirrors the recent discussions on muni-networking which ended up being short-handed to a discussion on Wifi with the nuance laundered out.

Great idea! Do you have any interest in adding arts topics, or would you rather it stick to public service / government / social activism topics?

(If there are arts entries already posted, and I missed them, sorry.)

What sort of arts topics did you have in mind, Duncan? There's probably a place for them. I'm one of those strange people who don't think arts, activism, government, history, geography, and the like are all that seperate to begin with. :)

Seriously though... When I first considered creating a wiki, the intent and purpose was geared almost entirely towards policy. But in local politics, what decision is made that DOESN'T necessarily reference some "arbitrary" facet of the community? Local policy decisions are about business, and art, and the environment, and about how people interact, and how they get from place to place, and so many other things that there are very few topics which I feel would be completely out of place on Orangepedia.

My intent for wikiboro (not to focus solely on carrboro as dth said) was to be for everything. Restaurants to Politics to Art. I have a few more ideas beyond a simple wiki. When I heard WillR mention a community wiki at convergesouth he seemed like he wanted to concentrate on the "institutional memory" aspect. There will surely be a debate about how to limit content. I think that it should only be limited by location.

I couldn't find any interest earlier, but I am a bad salesperson. If you search wikiboro on google you can see the cache of the site. I will try and put it back up tonight. I actually thought about naming it orangepedia, which means that it's probably a good name. I went with wikiboro because I wanted other communities to be able to use it also possibly using subdomains for name spaces.

Anyways, I would love to meet with everyone and talk about it in person (or email (or on the wiki if it had a discuss page :))

I haven't seen wikiboro yet, but I prefer the account requirement on wikipedia over the completely open format Jason has created on Orangepedia. In working on professional topics on wikipedia, there were sections which had been created that I disagreed with, but knowing who had created them helped me understand how to add in text that allowed the disagreement to stand as part of the evolution of my field. Had I not known who had written those sections, I would have been more tempted to simply 'revise'. Also, when there are true disagreements, email can be used or embedded notes to help resolve differences.

Just FYI: A technology update is being considered. Orangepedia is based on DokuWiki because that's the software I'm most familiar with using. However, that's been almost entirely on closed networks, intranets, or sites with a really limited userbase. I'm looking at switching over to MediaWiki, which is the same software Wikipedia uses. Any thoughts?

I've spent way too much time over the last couple of weeks on Wikipedia, so I'd have to say that I have a better feel for their SW than what you've done so far on orangepedia. Not to say I couldn't get used to it too and would love to contribute (somebody deleted my "who's who in Chapel Hill" page from wikipedia), but if you ask for a vote, I vote for what wikipedia uses.

Oh great, the census definition of family! This is extremely offensive. I only have one hand right now, and don't know how to wiki anyway, so can someone come up with alternative language for "non-families?" Is married couple and/or children the only way to define family? What values are implied here? Am I making too much of this?

This is what's said under the Orange County link:
"There are 45,863 households out of which 28.30% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.60% are married couples living together, 9.40% have a female householder with no husband present, and 43.00% are non-families. 28.10% of all households are made up of individuals and 6.10% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.36 and the average family size is 2.95."

Mark, these are the census definitions of family because it's census information, directly taken from the census bureau information on Orange County. As far as I can tell, it's exactly the same definition the town used when they published the 2004 Chapel Hill Data Book.

I'd love to have something better to put there, but I'm going to need some help and suggestions. Is the information provided by the census bureau about families even relevent? How could household information be better represented with the information we have available to us?

I'm more looking at specific ways to fix the wording we've got. We could get into a big discussion about how poor the census' representation of data might be. In the eyes of statistics, my being an unmarried male living with an unmarried female is no different than my mother's being an unmarried female living with an unmarried male. Except, I live in what is merely a cheap housing arrangement and my mother is living with her partner of 10+ years. And I'm still "single" despite being in a committed relationship with someone I don't live with. Statistics do families and relationships no justice.


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