Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 27

Thread: Think you could host a collaborative textbook on github?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Beans
    Hidden!
    Distro
    Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

    Think you could host a collaborative textbook on github?

    note: I realize that this is a crazy idea on the level of those ideas that one guy is always posting. Just sick of 'business as usual' in Academia.

    I want to work on writing a free textbook in my feild that people can use or modify of their classrooms. I want it to be forkable. I want it to be written by community collaboration. I want anyone to be able to use the work for anything, and to be able to print and publish with freedom. Essentially, I want to write a textbook for my field that has all of the qualities of Open Source software (with some naming rights reserved).

    Is there any reason that this would not be possible through github? It would require teaching humanities nerds to use git, which would be problematic, but I see it as a very viable option for hosting text-based, open, collaborative projects beyond code.

    In addition, any ideas about a licence that might be appropriate for a project like this?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Pizza Hut
    Beans
    1,208
    Distro
    Kubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander

    Re: Think you could host a collaborative textbook on github?

    Sound plausible to me. I like the idea of a collaborative, free (as in freedom) book. You could use the GPL for the book, obviously it's not ideal, but it could work. I would recommend you look into the Creative Commons licenses. My personal recommendation would be the CC-BY-SA license:

    CC BY-SA
    This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.
    View License Deed | View Legal Code



    All the othe CC licenses can be found here.
    Ubuntu user #35115 - Linux user #555707 - My Ubuntu Wik page
    Join the Ubuntu Forums' IRC room (#ubuntuforums on irc.freenode.net)!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Beans
    Hidden!

    Re: Think you could host a collaborative textbook on github?

    Quote Originally Posted by ninjaaron View Post
    It would require teaching humanities nerds to use git, which would be problematic, but I see it as a very viable option for hosting text-based, open, collaborative projects beyond code.
    Yeah, but you'd have to teach humanities to use git. And what would the format they send the texts in be, .doc, .tex, .odf?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Pizza Hut
    Beans
    1,208
    Distro
    Kubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander

    Re: Think you could host a collaborative textbook on github?

    Quote Originally Posted by el_koraco View Post
    Yeah, but you'd have to teach humanities to use git. And what would the format they send the texts in be, .doc, .tex, .odf?
    I would say have a PDF version and an OpenDocument version for starters and if someone wanted to add a new format, they could. Obviously there would have to be people who keep each format the same, but it could work.
    Ubuntu user #35115 - Linux user #555707 - My Ubuntu Wik page
    Join the Ubuntu Forums' IRC room (#ubuntuforums on irc.freenode.net)!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Beans
    Hidden!

    Re: Think you could host a collaborative textbook on github?

    Quote Originally Posted by dniMretsaM View Post
    I would say have a PDF version and an OpenDocument version for starters and if someone wanted to add a new format, they could. Obviously there would have to be people who keep each format the same, but it could work.
    How are you gonna merge PDF documents into one?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Pizza Hut
    Beans
    1,208
    Distro
    Kubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander

    Re: Think you could host a collaborative textbook on github?

    Quote Originally Posted by el_koraco View Post
    How are you gonna merge PDF documents into one?
    PDFtk can merge PDF's. And you can edit them easily in LibreOffice Draw (add pages, replace pages, change page content, etc.).
    Ubuntu user #35115 - Linux user #555707 - My Ubuntu Wik page
    Join the Ubuntu Forums' IRC room (#ubuntuforums on irc.freenode.net)!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Beans
    Hidden!
    Distro
    Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

    Re: Think you could host a collaborative textbook on github?

    Quote Originally Posted by dniMretsaM View Post
    Sound plausible to me. I like the idea of a collaborative, free (as in freedom) book. You could use the GPL for the book, obviously it's not ideal, but it could work. I would recommend you look into the Creative Commons licenses. My personal recommendation would be the CC-BY-SA license: [...]
    Yeah, I like the idea of something like that for a textbook too. Share-Alike isn't really what you would want for something like a work of fiction or a monograph or an article, but when I think about something like a textbook, it seems like the ideal way to do it, really. It's also listed as a license that fits the Debian Free Software Guidelines, so it's possible to market the book as "Open Source" without being to far off the mark.

    Quote Originally Posted by el_koraco View Post
    Yeah, but you'd have to teach humanities to use git. And what would the format they send the texts in be, .doc, .tex, .odf?
    First Choice: Plain Text
    I was thinking that the "source" could be maintained as unicode plain text (it's "a universal interface," after all), and various other formats could be maintained as branches. In my opinion, plain text can be formated to have just as clear a layout as anything else, and it's the best for tracking changes.

    However, there is a possible issue: bi-directional text (Biblical Hebrew textbook). Direction isn't encoded in plain text (obviously), so it would be dependent on whatever text-editor is being used. Abiword and LO/OO can handle bi-directional text perfectly. Gedit also does a pretty friggin' good job, and all of those programs are cross-platform, so I think that would be ok.

    The other thing would be difficulty with using tables, which you often need in language textbooks. Tables can be made in plain text, but they aren't very portable. Images would also be an issue, if they were ever deemed important (and they might be in a chapter about the history of the script or something). This leads me to choice #2, which I think is the best option right now...

    Second Choice: HTML
    HTML is also basically plain text, so tracking changes would be pretty easy, even if it is slightly less accessible than plain text. Basically every modern wysiwyg editor can read and write HTML like any other document format. It makes it easier to format text, and tables and images are a breeze. I was originally thinking about RTF, but it's proprietary, and I think it's less universal than HTML, and they do about the same thing (in terms of formating text). It can also be easily ported to other formats. text direction and rendering would depend on the browser, but browsers generally do a better job at rendering weird scripts than any other class of program, so it's not a big worry.

    Third Choice: ODF
    ODF can give professional layout options. However, it is less universal than HTML, and it's a compressed archive, which makes tracking changes yet more difficult. Anyone who has ever looked inside of a ODF archive knows that, while it's all XML, and it is technically "Human Readable," It's not exactly something a human wants to read.

    Fourth Choice: Google Docs
    Google docs is awesome for collaborative document editing and change tracking, one of the best out there. However, the framework isn't ideal for taking full advantage of an open-source development model and license, which is sort of the point.
    Last edited by ninjaaron; October 14th, 2011 at 06:35 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Pizza Hut
    Beans
    1,208
    Distro
    Kubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander

    Re: Think you could host a collaborative textbook on github?

    Quote Originally Posted by ninjaaron View Post
    First Choice: [realtalk]
    It would probably be the best for formatting and stuff, as its an extremely powerful platform (for lack of a better term) that can easily handle multiple languages, pictures, table of contents, etc. It's also completely universal. What computer do you know of that doesn't come with a web browser. And most e-readers support HTML now too. And it's super easy to print from a web browser, so those who want a printed version can easily do that. It would obviously require someone with HTML experience to write though.
    Ubuntu user #35115 - Linux user #555707 - My Ubuntu Wik page
    Join the Ubuntu Forums' IRC room (#ubuntuforums on irc.freenode.net)!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Beans
    Hidden!
    Distro
    Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

    Re: Think you could host a collaborative textbook on github?

    Oh yeah. TeX should also get honorable mention. I like the idea of tex a lot, and in many ways, its the best option for doing a book, but it's much better adapted to maths and natural sciences than linguistics. This has kept me personally from using it for my work. However despite certain benefits of tex for working with a book, HTML is is still a much more widely used format. I think, as long as each chapter was consistently laid out, automated conversion to tex with a script shouldn't be exceptionally difficult for someone who knows the format better than I do.

    Quote Originally Posted by dniMretsaM View Post
    It would probably be the best for formatting and stuff, as its an extremely powerful platform (for lack of a better term) that can easily handle multiple languages, pictures, table of contents, etc. It's also completely universal. What computer do you know of that doesn't come with a web browser. And most e-readers support HTML now too. And it's super easy to print from a web browser, so those who want a printed version can easily do that. It would obviously require someone with HTML experience to write though.
    I'm no wiz in HTML, but I know the basic tags for text formatting, images, tables, etc. It's a matter of an afternoon to figure that stuff out. But, even someone who doesn't know any HTML will be able to work with it on almost any wysiwyg editor.

    Anyway, I can probably handle tidying up contributions until it grows beyond me, if that ever happens.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Kentucky, USA
    Beans
    731
    Distro
    Ubuntu

    Re: Think you could host a collaborative textbook on github?

    Quote Originally Posted by ninjaaron View Post
    note: I realize that this is a crazy idea on the level of those ideas that one guy is always posting. Just sick of 'business as usual' in Academia.
    Awwe I feel loved LOL. There's nothing wrong with a crazy idea though LOL. That's how most modern inventions (technologies) came to be. As for your book, I would Google Doc it. (That's just me) It's easier to collaborate b/c you can actually see what others are writing (while they're writing it) which may not be as important on source code, but would allow you to expand on each others ideas better.

    That's just my two cents.
    Which is more important in obtaining the truth, "what" or "why"? Trick question. They are of equal importance.
    Freely ye have received, freely give.

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •