January 11, 2001

Web review: Linux lovers and others write, read, and share at Andamooka.org

Author: JT Smith

- by Tina Gasperson -
What the heck is an Andamooka? I kept wondering as I was perusing this site. I had to stop browsing and go look the word up so I could concentrate on the task at hand. Andamooka is a town in South Australia which is known for opal mining. On the other hand, Andamooka.org is a good place for finding priceless gems of the readable kind.At Andamooka.org, you'll find a small collection of open content books with titles like "Newtonian Physics," "Maximum RPM," and "Linux From Scratch." These aren't cheesy online brochures or poorly written attempts at vainglory. No, they're full-fledged e-books that the authors have graciously placed at the Andamooka.org site in order to share the contents with the world.

Readers at Andamooka.org are encouraged to provide annotations for each book they read - page by page. It's a unique way to disseminate the written word. Seems like a good way for authors to receive immediate feedback on their work, if they're brave enough to endure thousands of people picking it apart and offering improvements.

On Andamooka.org, there's even a section for fiction. Granted, there's only one book in that section, but it's more than you'd think to look for at a site dedicated to openness that seems to attract books about open source-y stuff like Debian and Gnome and Red Hat.

One really interesting book on Andamooka.org is called Nupedia. It's an open encyclopedia with entries from... anyone, that is freely available to... anyone. The introduction reads thus:

"Suppose scholars the world over were to learn of a serious online encyclopedia effort in which the results were not proprietary to the encyclopedists, but were freely distributable under an open content license in virtually any desired medium. How quickly would the encyclopedia grow?"

Well, maybe not as fast as one would hope. The last time it was updated was November 14, and there are only nine entries. Looks like it is up to all of us to get over there and add articles on topics in which we're experts.

If you want to place a book you've written online at Andamooka.org, it must either be unpublished, or published previously under an open content license. Andamooka.org will give you an official home site, and readers will be able to post discussion about your tome at Andamooka.org. You'll be able to respond and update your work as a reaction of discussion and annotations, creating mutable content.

In addition, depending on the license you choose for your work, readers will be able to download your book, modify it, and redistribute it (with attribution). If you're not down with that, don't upload your book to the Andamooka.org servers. However, if you get the whole open thing and would like to be part of this cool experiment, get your tome transferred ASAP.

Even if you don't have a book to contribute, I'm sure your help as a reader/annotator would be greatly valued. Go check out Andamooka.org.

If you know of a website that should be spotlighted in our weekly website review, let me know.

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