The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

TFL Book?

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Floydm's picture
Floydm

TFL Book?

IMHO the biggest flaw with this site these days isn't that there's not enough information (though there are still significant gaps in certain areas), it is that there is *too* much information. For a newbie who comes here looking for no-knead bread or a basic sourdough starter, I'm sure it is extremely daunting how many different hits they get when they do a search on those topics.

I've been stewing on this for some time and playing with different ideas and technologies to try to figure out what the best way to solve it would be. The idea I am most intrigued by would be use the Drupal book module to allow us to create a structured document collaboratively that would represent the "authoritative" recipes and instructions (or as close to authoritative as we can get). By document I don't mean 1 web page, I mean a bunch of pages linked together with a single table of contents. So think of as a new tab you'd see in the top navigation that would lead you to a table of contents. Each item in the table of contents would be it's own page. By no means would the book replace the discussions we have here every day, but it would create a single document into which our collective wisdom could be gathered.

The way I'm imagining this would work would be I would start the ball rolling by creating the book and starting to stub in the sections and pages (I'm imagining top level sections on things like Gear, Ingredient, Techniques, and Recipes, but even that would be something I'd like us to decide collectively). Site members who who wanted to be involved could contribute at a couple of different levels: I'm imagining one level of contributors who have something like editorial level access who can create pages, edit any page in the book, rearrange the order of the pages and so forth. Another level of contributor could author pages about topics they know a great deal about (starters, different grains, a particular recipe, etc.) but not need to worry about formatting or the technical aspects as much.

What else... not everything on the site would make it into the book. I realize that there are at least 20 ways to start a sourdough starter, but we'd want to pick just a couple of methods and document them well. The goal wouldn't be to create an exhaustive document, just one that is approachable. For further reading, there are the nearly 5,000 discussions we've had here and which we could point to.

I'm imagining that comments would be disabled on the book pages. It'd be like Wikipedia: every page has a dedicated area where people can debate the details, but the pages themselves rarely reflect this discussion. I'm imagining that I'd create a dedicated forum for discussion of the book (what should go in it, what should not, whether a given post is accurate, etc.), but we'd keep the book pages as clean and authoritative in voice as possible. You know, like a *real* book. ;)

License-wise, I'm imagining placing the document under something like The Creative Commons license that Drupal uses. Basically by becoming a contributor to the project you'd be vowing that any content you posted is your own and that it is OK for other people to use it in non-commercial ways. If it *really* came together as something like a book it'd be fun to find a place online that could do printing-on-demand for us so we could have a TFL book on our shelves or to give to friends, but I'm not counting on that right now. The goal of this isn't to get rich or get published, it is to better organize our thoughts and share our knowledge with one another.

So, I guess my questions to the community members are:
- Would this interest you as a reader?
- Would you be interested in participating? Editing?
- Do you think it is a good idea but to try to start something like this right before the holidays is insane?

My own answers are "yes" to the first two and "perhaps" to the third. I've got some enthusiasm and energy to put toward this right now so part of me wants to jump on it right away, but another part of me thinks I should just cool my jets until early 2008. We're all going to be busy enough the next month or two.

CountryBoy's picture
CountryBoy

I would be glad to help in any way I can.

Given the fact that I was totally brought up or raised by info from this website I could provide a perspective from the Novice.  It is very easy to be totally frustrated by so much info on this site and in the books that it is helpful to have some guidelines at the beginning so as to not get that drowning feeling that I recognise in the posts of many beginners.

Congratulations, and I will be glad to do all I can to help....(i also lick stamps, wash windows, and take out the trash)

CountryBoy

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Excellent. I certainly agree that having input not just from the pros is exceedingly valuable.

i also lick stamps, wash windows, and take out the trash

You know, my car is looking kind of dirty... ;^)

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

...in any way I can help

It's been my privilege to learn an extraordinary amount from the posts to this site. I'm a regular lurker (and sometimes poster). I would love to contribute back to the betterment of the site.

To respond to your specific questions...

Quote:
- Would this interest you as a reader?
YES absolutely!
Quote:
Would you be interested in participating? Editing?
YES tell me how I can contribute. No task is too small.
Quote:
Do you think it is a good idea but to try to start something like this right before the holidays is insane?
YES, excellent idea but recommend wait until mid Jan 2008 to begin.
Floydm's picture
Floydm

YES, excellent idea but recommend wait until mid Jan 2008 to begin.

That is what I'm thinking too.

Maybe we can tap into that New Year's Resolution enthusiasm everyone always has. That usually lasts for ... what... at least two or three weeks?

dolfs's picture
dolfs

On the other hand, some people have some time available over the holidays that they normally would not. Waiting would pass on that opportunity. Are you suggesting waiting because if the idea does not pickup enough momentum it may die an untimely death? If so, I think participation from a relatively small number of folks early on that have time and dedication perhaps beyond what we can expect from most, might allow enough structure to be created to actually build serious momentum in January. Just a thought.


--dolf


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures

browndog's picture
browndog

What subfuscpersona said.

My computer skills are minimal though I have an adept son to draft--I'm not sure how but would be glad to do what I could to help out.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

The Karl Marx line about "From each according to his ability" comes to mind. We wouldn't all need to be geeks to contribute. I'd think that two or three of the more tech savvy of us would try to take care of any layout, formatting, or technology issues. There are other folks here who work in publishing who excel at writing and editing copy, others who are great bakers or know a ton about a giving topic. Together we have everything it takes to put together a tight document. That is how Wikipedia works and, though not perfect, it is pretty incredible what they've put together and how quickly they've done so.

Susan's picture
Susan

Glad to copy edit.

Susan from San Diego

PsDenys's picture
PsDenys

I love this site. It is enormously helpful to those like myself who are new to bread baking. The structure you are proposing sounds fantastic. Waiting until January is probably a good idea.

I would be happy to help in any way I can. Obviously, as someone with very little baking experience, I would not be of much help in terms of contributing content, but I do have quite a bit of writing, editing, and publishing experience. I could also help with sorting out whether instructions provided by others make sense to someone new to the enterprise!

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

Everything I know about bread I learned here. This site has taken me a long way and I am most appreciative. Whatever I can do ..proof/edit copy...organize topics..ummm, after the holidays is probably best. I think this is a great idea!!

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Thanks for the feedback, all. I'll come back to it in January.

Have a good weekend.

F

Rg's picture
Rg

I have baked yeast bread off and on since I was a teenager; but, just started to tackle sourdough starters this year.  I stumbled into this site last August while researching how to effectively use the new brotform purchased from KAF after my croissant/brioche class with them.

I am fairly good using computers and on vacation the last two weeks of December.  Please let me know if there are any "Set Up" steps that you would like done in order to open the doors in early January.

 Rachel

dolfs's picture
dolfs

For a while now I have been maintaining a private Wiki where I was organizing and collecting pieces of information, not exclusively from TFL, related to my "addiction". I was toying asking you (Floyd) to allow a Wiki on the site, but it appeared, at the time, that there wasn't a lot of energy (or funds) available for new development here. That tide seems to have turned, and I am all for it.

I have no knowledge of this book module but it doesn't sound all that different from a Wiki. I am available for any and all tasks that you need to fill positions for, including maintenance and development. Let me know. 


--dolf


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Yeah, I downloaded a few wikis and toyed with going that way too. I think the advantage of the Drupal book module over a stand-alone wiki is that it doesn't require any separate setup or login. I also didn't want everyone to have to try to learn Markdown or any other funky wiki syntax. I think we can end up with the same result (a collaborative, revisioned document) with more familiar technology.

Your point about some folks having more time around the holidays is valid. Maybe I can get a little something started so we can play with the collaboration features and verify it works as promised.

Thanks for your offer of assistance.

dolfs's picture
dolfs

Upon reading your reply and my own words I can see how me message could be interpreted as being all for a Wiki. What I mean to say is that I am all for the idea of collecting our collective wisdom and presenting it in collated and logical form. I did a Wiki because I was familiar with it. I totally support the reasons for doing a Drupal book.

My offer for assistance goes to all technical depth that you need. I have plenty of technical knowhow and experience. 


--dolf


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

I'm all for it and will help in any way I can. As for the start date, I'm going to be very, very busy over the holidays and won't have much time at all to dedicate to something like this, but others may actually have more free time, as dolfs pointed out.

slidething's picture
slidething

 Floyd ~

  Very Good Idea ~ It seems like the way to go with this site.

 LOL "going to be busy for the next month or so"  welcome to "The Happy Holidaze "

  EveryOne Have a Happy Thanksgiving :>)

  Slidething

Thegreenbaker's picture
Thegreenbaker

Actually floyd, this is a great Idea. I was not online at this time (inbetween countries and living like a gypsy kind of screw with routine)

But I would be all for doing what I can. Its a great idea. :)

 

 

dolfs's picture
dolfs

Original plans were to start in January?


--dolf


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Just a shortage of time and energy. Trumped by holidays, birthdays, seasonal illnesses, deadlines, and so forth. Hopefully I can dedicate some time to getting things organized soon.

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

wiling to help..let me know what I can do..