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cwbullet

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Books are great but they are dated. I am really surprised our community has not made a collaborative book online.
 

Nytrunner

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Books are great but they are dated. I am really surprised our community has not made a collaborative book online.
Sounds like a worthy endeavor, just need someone to collate, curate, and verify the information as submitted. Like a rocketry wiki!

That being said, the arguments around this place and other rocket forum/online venues certainly sure make a strong case for why it hasn't happened yet
 

RFMan

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*casts disapproving gaze*

Fifty years from now I'm going to be like that lawyer from the original Star Trek with the massive collection of paper books.
YES. And then there's the "old book smell" that evokes fond memories of perusing the stacks in equally old libraries. There's also the "old computer smell," which can also evoke nostalgic memories, but it's not quite as nice.
 

neil_w

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Books are great but they are dated. I am really surprised our community has not made a collaborative book online.
What sort of collaborative book? We're not going to all have to agree on anything, will we? Like glue or balsa sealing or paint brands or which sim program to use or....
 

les

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What sort of collaborative book? We're not going to all have to agree on anything, will we? Like glue or balsa sealing or paint brands or which sim program to use or....
There will be 42 chapters on best glue, 68 on the best paint, and over 100 on the definition of CATO!

🤣🤣🤣🤣

But in reality - it could be nice getting everything into one collection
 

Jeff Lassahn

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I like the idea. The nice thing about a book rather than a forum or a wiki is that it would be organized with a sense of completeness and a consistent point of view.

What would such a book cover, and what would the logistics of creating it look like?
 

cwbullet

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Forums are great for discussion and framing information for a short time. Books or wikis or better over a long period because they have a structure that is more conducive to organizing the information into sections and chapters.
 

Joshua F Thomas

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The benefits of online collaborative works are that they can include up to date information, input from a large community, and are freely available.

The single major problem with online collaborative works is deciding who is the gatekeeper of what information is included.
 

rocketlabdelta

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Books or wikis or better over a long period because they have a structure that is more conducive to organizing the information into sections and chapters
The single major problem with online collaborative works is deciding who is the gatekeeper of what information is included.
Agreed. I think there are 2 major barriers:
  1. Technology: Self-publishing platforms need to produce several forms of the content e.g. website, EPUB, MOBI, PDF, etc. Getting this working well and looking good in all formats is a lot of work. That being said, I could set something up pretty quickly if I assumed every contributor knew how to use git, but for some people that's a tall order.
  2. Editorial Process: Books need structure and should have a consistent editorial voice. This is possible with community-driven efforts like Wikipedia, but it's going to take a core of dedicated people to keep the vision focused and the content up to par.
These are solvable problems. I would love to help on both fronts. So, what'll it be: book.rocketryforum.com or wiki.rocketryforum.com 😁
 

neil_w

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I think something like a wiki sounds ideal. Compiling into publishable work like an ebook doesn’t seem as useful.
 

cwbullet

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Heck, it could happen on TRF.

I think something like a wiki sounds ideal. Compiling into publishable work like an ebook doesn’t seem as useful.
Agreed.
 

rocketlabdelta

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I think something like a wiki sounds ideal. Compiling into publishable work like an ebook doesn’t seem as useful.
Having a forum+wiki combo is really powerful. Lots of subreddits work this way. Right now, the closest thing we get on TRF is sticky posts but they aren't collaborative and edit time limits can be a problem.

Something like this might work:

Or

Wordpress.
There are lots of wiki platforms to choose from. (The list gets even bigger if you broaden your options to include content management systems.)

I think BookStack might be a good fit.
 
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Blast it Tom!

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Well, Dave F. has talked with the authors of "Topics in Advanced Model Rocketry", specifically Gordon Mandell, and the authors have taken their copyright back from MIT press. Details in this post over here. Dave has permission to get teh thing into PDF format and distribute it public domain. Meanwhile, another fellow was scanning it, doing OCR and using an eqaution editor to get it looking prettier, but that's a big job for one fellow, so he'd shelved it about 10 years ago. But a bunch of us could accomplish a task like that, cross-checking one another, etc. That'd make a nice download from this possible wiki, which I think is a grand idear! (Note Dave F. and I both have a copy of said book, and very likely the $500-$1000 that they are commanding on ebay & Amazon would drop quite a bit with the electronic publication available! - I wasn't selling, anyway!)
 

Ez2cDave

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Well, Dave F. has talked with the authors of "Topics in Advanced Model Rocketry", specifically Gordon Mandell, and the authors have taken their copyright back from MIT press. Details in this post over here. Dave has permission to get teh thing into PDF format and distribute it public domain. Meanwhile, another fellow was scanning it, doing OCR and using an eqaution editor to get it looking prettier, but that's a big job for one fellow, so he'd shelved it about 10 years ago. But a bunch of us could accomplish a task like that, cross-checking one another, etc. That'd make a nice download from this possible wiki, which I think is a grand idear! (Note Dave F. and I both have a copy of said book, and very likely the $500-$1000 that they are commanding on ebay & Amazon would drop quite a bit with the electronic publication available! - I wasn't selling, anyway!)

Agreed . . .

Dave F.

LETTER - 1.jpg
 

neil_w

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I do like that software. What does everyone else think?
In the brief look that I gave it, I wasn't too enthusiastic about the "book" and "bookshelf" metaphor that they pushed. I don't think of a wiki that way at all, nor do I think about the project we're talking about that way. It does look clean and modern.
 

cwbullet

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In the brief look that I gave it, I wasn't too enthusiastic about the "book" and "bookshelf" metaphor that they pushed. I don't think of a wiki that way at all, nor do I think about the project we're talking about that way. It does look clean and modern.
Do you this would produce a valuable tool? Would it be attractive to contributors?
 

neil_w

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Do you this would produce a valuable tool? Would it be attractive to contributors?
I need to try to go and play with the demo a bit to see how it really works. It looks like it would be fine, again the book metaphor just kind of rubs me the wrong way.

I'm not yet sure how the editorial process would work on this whole project. Some wikis are better in this area than others, but it depends on what we want.

There are many wikis out there, choosing one is not so easy necessarily. :)


Interesting (and a bit puzzling) that Bookstack isn't in their comparison table.
 

rocketlabdelta

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I'm not yet sure how the editorial process would work on this whole project. Some wikis are better in this area than others, but it depends on what we want.
Let's back up and talk about what we're trying to accomplish instead of just diving into tool selection. Here are some of my assumptions:
  • We are building a knowledge base, not collectively writing a book
    • There will be lots of interconnected pages that could be strung together into a logical sequence but there won't be a coherent narrative
    • It will contain sections on both the theory behind rocketry as well it's application
    • BONUS: First-class equation support via MathML/MathJax like Instiki
  • A wiki is a better fit than a content management system or a set of shared documents
    • Contributions should be easy to make through a web browser (this eliminates most git-backed solutions, even those that would work fine through the GitHub web UI)
    • BONUS: Content export features that make it possible to generate documents by aggregating pages
  • The primary source of contributors is TRF members
    • Contributions from non-TRF members are welcome
    • BONUS: Shared accounts & logins between TRF (xenForo) and the knowledge base (This may not be possible as xenForo would need to act as an OAuth2 provider or support another SSO mechanism)
  • Any Internet-facing site that is open for contributions will have to deal with low-quality content, inaccuracies, bickering, and (possibly) outright vandalism
    • When designing the permission system ask: "What is the worst case scenario and what can we do to mitigate it?"
    • There needs to be good editorial controls, somewhat like the TRF forum moderators, at the section and the site level
    • BONUS: Style guides and content standards rather just ad-hoc judgment calls from editors
What did I miss?
 

neil_w

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That's a pretty good start. I agree that a knowledge base is the right model for this.

I'm uncertain of the notion of this new thing being "connected" to TRF, vs. an independent rocket wiki. I know Chuck proposed it and he is a Mod here but I admit I had been assuming the latter. If it's not managed or "owned" in any way by the TRF folks, or if they're not providing resources, I'm not sure why it should be so connected. That said, SSO with TRF could be nice.
 

Jeff Lassahn

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Who is the audience for this thing?
Experienced rocketeers looking for reference material?
Newbies looking for and introduction?
 

neil_w

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Who is the audience for this thing?
Experienced rocketeers looking for reference material?
Newbies looking for and introduction?
Should be for everyone, I'd think. A general collection of reference material.
 

OKTurbo

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We had ‘Rocketry Online’s INFOcentral’ several years back. I think it died around 2005. Just what ya’ll are talking about. You can find it on the Wayback machine.
 

cwbullet

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I need to try to go and play with the demo a bit to see how it really works. It looks like it would be fine, again the book metaphor just kind of rubs me the wrong way.

I'm not yet sure how the editorial process would work on this whole project. Some wikis are better in this area than others, but it depends on what we want.

There are many wikis out there, choosing one is not so easy necessarily. :)


Interesting (and a bit puzzling) that Bookstack isn't in their comparison table.
Call it an online reference then!
 

cwbullet

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We had ‘Rocketry Online’s INFOcentral’ several years back. I think it died around 2005. Just what ya’ll are talking about. You can find it on the Wayback machine.
That is my muse. I really miss it and feel it never reach completion. I would like to spend the next 10-20 years making something that measures up.
 

Jeff Lassahn

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That points out one of the risks of this kind of project that I have no idea how to deal with: if we build something online, it may eventually disappear or rot away even though it's valuable. How do we keep something like this alive and relevant so it can still be used 10 or 20 years from now?
 

neil_w

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That points out one of the risks of this kind of project that I have no idea how to deal with: if we build something online, it may eventually disappear or rot away even though it's valuable. How do we keep something like this alive and relevant so it can still be used 10 or 20 years from now?
That’s a bit cart before the horse I think. Step 1 is to create something worthwhile. We can worry about the longevity question sometime in the future.

In any case, there are no guarantees.
 
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