Compendia of Knowledge: A planned project

filing cabinet iconFor years now, going back at least to debate class in high school, I’ve been collecting bits of information. At first I downloaded page after page from the Web; later, I “starred” them in Google Reader (see this 2008 post); and still later, when I discovered online bookmark services (first Delicious, now Diigo), I just shoved pages into those. (And downloaded my links from them to my computer every so often, just in case they went down.) And then there’s all the paper in my filing cabinet and books overflowing my shelves. But while I occasionally write a blog post dealing with something I’ve read, for the most part all this information just sits in my bookmarks, files, and shelves. What am I going to do with it?

A large fraction of my bookmarks (etc.) are, of course, ideas for advances for Strategic Primer, or sources for balancing data, or otherwise related to my strategy game. But ignoring those, I still have vast numbers of links and otherwise preserved pages to deal with, including ones related to writing, debate, politics, religion, Linux, and a variety of other interests.

Then, a little while back, I finally hit on an idea. One of the things I most enjoyed doing in high school and college (until the stress of meeting specific requirements and deadlines got to me) was synthesizing information from various sources into coherent, (somewhat) concise explorations of the topics. (Yes, in retrospect, I probably should have been an English major as well as a CS major …) And I’ve long wanted to read a “definitive” work on writing (for example)—so why not …

My idea is to arrange the tidbits from the various “sources” I’ve collected into a number of “volumes” having to do with the various topics. I’ll condense (paraphrasing more than quoting) the gems while discarding the boilerplate, dross, and less interesting bits—citing sources through the wonders of hypertext (and probably via footnotes in paginated formats), of course—adding my own ideas the “sources” sparked, and connecting everything into continuous comprehensive narrative.

This will be a monumental undertaking, of course; I’ll almost certainly only get to starting on it after my poetry collection is finished, and even then it’ll be slow going, and have to compete for attention with all my other “magna opera.” (Like the advance conversion project for Strategic Primer or Imperial Robo Cards, I’ve brought this into the open because if readers become excited enough about one of my projects to either offer help sharing the work or provide encouragement (and “pokes”), that can push it to the top of the list and make it more likely to be completed sooner (or ever).)

So what do you think of this project?

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