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So as I've been writing wiki entries over the past few days, more than once I've found myself consulting wikipedia.org. I am in awe of the Wikipedia. Somehow they have created a community that with a diverse yet consistent voice. The information presented is almost always relevant and just enough to get started into any subject. The authors, for the most part seem to understand their audience, who for the most part are not specialists. They are most likely a member of the general public, looking to gain a basic understanding of a topic. Wiki authors understand this concept of a broad audience partly because of wikipedia's encyclopedia metaphor.
Needless to say, I'm particularly interested in the articles relating to type design. Unfortunately, there is a lot of work to be done there. I've jumped in a couple of times to add to the mix, but I could admittedly do more to expand both mine and the public's understanding of type design.
So why should there be a specialized TypoWiki? The thought occurred to me as I was writing a few paragraphs on the Python language in the TypoWiki. Wikipedia's article was very complete with additional articles on Guido van Rossum and other similar languages. It occurred to me, though, that there were important parts missing. Like, for example, that Python is the primary scripting language of FontLab or that RoboFab is written in Python (as well as a couple other wonderful tools from LettError). It then occurred to me that it would be completely inappropriate to mention RoboFab in the Python article on Wikipedia (though it should probably have it's own entry). If one were to list every piece of software written in Python on the Wikipedia page, it would be enormous, and probably not that useful. What do I care if some agronomical engineer in Iowa wrote a corn calculator in Python?
However, Python's FontLab connection is very important to type designers. It's question of audience. Type designers need a different, though related set of information about type design. They need a more specialized set of information. Articles in the TypoWiki should assume that the reader has more interest in, if not more knowledge about type design than the general reader of the Wikipedia.
So now I'm more convinced of the value of the TypoWiki. It's not competing with the Wikipedia, it's providing a venue for a more specialized audience. Already there are a lot of great articles in the TypoWiki. I'm excited to see what happens. I'm excited for edit wars. I'm excited for heated discussion around type controversies. What is a bouma anyway?