Welcome to Learn Orienteering!

Sorry, in spite of all the great plans, there hasn't been activity here for years, and it doesn't seem like I will get around to it soon either, but I hope you find the old content still useful.

Expanding the scope

People who have read my compass pages before have been many, they are visited by several hundreds every day. There has however, been few updates there in the past couple of years. This is mostly been due to me writing a big thesis in astrophysics. This thesis writing is nearing its end and therefore, I would like to devote more of my time to making orienteering instructional materials available on the web. That is, expand the scope beyond just the compass.

Liberal copyright restrictions

From allowing non-profit use and allow reproduction as long as my name is on the work, I will also move towards even more liberal copyright restrictions: When the new site goes online one of the licenses I consider is the Free Documentation License. Pretty much, it means that you can use it for whatever you like, but any changes you do must be contributed back to the project. There are some issues that needs to be addressed however, but I shall return to them in due time. It is also worth having a look at Creative Commons, as I may well compose a lisence by using the mechanisms they are developing.

Technology choices and development

I wrote my first web page about the same time Netscape was first released on the Internet, the fall of 1994. I have had time to gain some experience, and I have learned most things the hard way, by making mistakes (that's the only way to learn!).

More importantly, I have come to see the choice of technology not only as a mere pragmatist what works best in the current situation, but also from an idealist's viewpoint: I believe that technology should advance all mankind. The greatest things we enjoy have been developed with that perspective, the Internet and the Web as two great examples. However, attempts are made to build closed technology, technology that prevents understanding on the top of these structures. These technologies are something I cannot support.

These pages will be based on open standards, where the specification of the technology has been released to the public, and where everybody are allowed to make an implementation. Further, the software on the server will be based on Free Software, most probably Debian GNU/Linux as operating system and the Apache Web Server. Currently, I'm also working with the AxKit XML Application Server and that is also a system that is likely to be under the hood of all this.

Great discussions will arise from this, for more, see my initial thoughts on the technology pages

More people

I can't do all this alone, of course. First of all, I plan to gather a bunch of people to work with me on it, called a core group. Some will write stuff and make figures. Some will concentrate on writing the software that makes the site work. Others again contribute by making translations to their own languages.

However, to enable everybody to work together, there has to be a lot of infrastructure in place. The initial phase will not consist of making a lot new content, but rather choose and develop the tools that the content creators need to work efficiently.

Communicating

This is not going to be only from me (or us) to you. Eventually we'll make a number of mailing lists where there will be discussion on how to improve the site, both technology and content. More importantly for most of our visitors, there will be addresses for you to use to seek help.

In fact, the first mailing list is now up, but it is from me to you... It is an announcement list that I hope everybody interested will sign up to, so that I can tell you how things progress.

Timeline

Touchy subject, this.... I'm not going to make any commitments. I finished my thesis not very long ago and have just got my first job doing web things. Things are progressing slowly, and since I try to spend some time in the woods myself, there isn't much spare time a spend in front of the computer right now. I have, however, got a computer on the net, that I control fully, and as stated I have created the first mailing list. The job consumes my time, pretty much, so I will not have time for the specifics of this project for some time, but I expect that much of the technology used in my job is applicable here to. Then the technology development phase will begin, and you'll see a note here when that happens, but don't expect to see a lot of changes before that happens. Then, the current content will be rewritten to meet the new technology standards. When that has been done, the new site will come online. At that time, I'll send an e-mail to all the people who have e-mailed me in the past (I have huge file of e-mail addresses of all those), and announce it to the appropriate foras. Then, development of new content will start.

That's it!

Yep, that is all I have so far. And now, if you've read this far, please do go and enjoy the Illustrated Guide on How to Use a Compass!

Kjetil Kjernsmo, kjetikj@astro.uio.no.