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Daily Archives: May 21, 2012

Wikis to books worth experimenting

I often make the point that we spend too much time clicking on links, rather than spending time on the meaning of what we read.

So I thought of experimenting with PediaPress, a service that lets you convert Wikipedia pages into a book.

The book? On Clark University¬†– for my son’s graduation today.

Knowing fully well that information on the university will change, did not bother me. In fact, that’s precisely why I wanted to do it. After all, Wikipedia content is not exactly writ in stone, could be considered as relevant for a moment in time.

(If you’ve been watching how pages get edited, and the edit wars that ensue over single words or phrases, you’ll know that this ‘moment’ sometimes changes several times an hour as a result of furious edit wars!) I want the book to be a sort of ¬†time capsule that he could one day look back on.

PediaPress is basically offering a print on demand (POD) service, but the beauty of this is how simple they have made the steps. There’s very limited customization (the cover and title, plus a preface), but the layout of pages and sections are very clean.

I would have liked a bit more customization, such as:

  • The ability to move photographs and charts into separate pages
  • Uploading my own photograph for the cover, and a few others for other pages
  • An acknowledgment or title page
  • Adding text to back cover

But as this was an experiment, I was willing to take the risk.

Other risks. For a different project, say trying to compile a short compendium of knowledge on a breaking news event, or a current topic, using Wikipedia as the source of content is more risky. While the Creative Commons license gives anyone permission to use and re-purpose content, one has to me meticulous about accuracy.

I began to wonder of there are other similar services that let you blend knowledge from multiple sources, and let you add chapters to the book. I’ve looked at Blurb, which offers a Blog-to-Book option. Lulu also has a great service. a cookbook/ A book of poetry/ Wikipedia has a rich selection.

Give it a try!

 

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