Saturday, January 5, 2008

Wikipedia as dictionary

Wikipedia is not just an encyclopedia, it is a great dictionary! Sometimes you want to translate some word from your native language to English (or some other language). It can be some technical term, it can be even notion consisting of several words, and there are no chances to find it in the ordinary dictionary. But there's always ability to find related wikipedia article and find that word by description or context.

Blosxom for my math page

I maintain a page with different math-related materials (such as olympiad problems and results, lectures etc.) for the class I'm teaching in. How information should be organized on such page?

I believed that static model is preferred for such page. That is, all available information is organized in static hierarchy. That makes sense in the assumption that people know what they're looking for. E.g. if some pupil wants to prepare for the control work, he goes to the place where all related materials (lectures, home tasks, previous control works) are collected.

However, the assumption often fails. Almost all the visitors are interested in the same topics, and often they just want to know, whether there's some new stuff.

There is the other model — the one used in blogs and news. I thought it is inappropriate here, because I didn't believe that old information is less important than new one. And if, after all, I'd need some old information, must I scroll down and search it by the date it was published?

Today I understood that blosxom is nearly ideal engine for my math page.

Firstly, it shows more recent entries first and has an RSS feed, this simplifies watching for updates (and more recent information is more popular, so it really must be more easy accessible). Secondly, actually there's no problem in accessing older information or grouping information by topic, thanks to hierarchical categories.