Scientists in India have launched an ‘agricultural wikipedia’, agropedia.
The site “aims to disseminate crop- and region-specific information to farmers and agricultural extension workers — who communicate agricultural information and research findings to farmers — and provide information for students and researchers”, according to a release on SciDev Net.
I just visited the site out of curiosity (I had to search on Google to find it, as there was no URL in the release), and was confronted with this opening statement:
“agropedia is an agriculture knowledge repository of universal meta models and localized content for a variety of users with appropriate interfaces built in collaborative mode in multiple languages.”
Wow! They must have a very different kind of extension agent from the ones I am familiar with. That sentence stopped me stone dead.
The idea is great, but I think this site has a long way to go before it is likely to prove useful. I did not find it intuitive to use, and often down-right offputting. For example, click on the link for ‘Knowledge Models’ and you get a table listing crops with four columns, headed “20081218″ and “20090113″ (under a heading of PDF), and “20081218″ and “20090113″ (under a heading JPEG). With a little thought one can guess these are the ‘dates’ of the Knowledge Models behind the PDF and JPG icons. But what do those dates represent?
If one goes to ‘Extension Materials’ and clicks on ‘Dos and Don’ts’, one is confronted by a nine-cell table with the names of the crops covered in the agropedia. Click on chickpea, for example, and one gets a page that says:
Mon, 11/17/2008 – 16:05 — sharwan
Hardly the most inspiring start.
Maybe I am being unfair here, but I was very disappointed with what I found at the site.
But feel free to tell me I am missing the point.
But maybe the bigger issue is whether this should really be maintained separately from Wikipedia itself — would it not be better to enhance the content of Wikipedia with this information, building on what is already there rather than creating yet another information source?