The sheer number of posts on publiclab.org by contributors from all over the world about 1) how to build tools better, and 2) how to use them for making environmental observations is breathtaking, and at times, boggling. As Public Lab has grown, so much content has been generated that it has become unnecessarily difficult to know what the "latest and greatest" version is, what the next development challenges are, or simply where newcomers should begin.
In the past couple weeks, staff have begun "gardening" on PublicLab.org and writing some new web features.
Organizing research areas
People on the spectroscopy and near-infrared lists have been discussing how to better present the overall research areas to make it easier to get involved. For each of those two research areas, we made a new top-level page. See them at spectrometry and multispectral-imaging. On those new pages, we constructed a couple tables -- the main table organizes relevant research notes into a "ladder" of activities others can replicate. There are columns to describe what type of activity it is, the status of its documentation, and how many people have replicated it.
We made a "Request A Guide" button to capture ideas about what people would like to do but don't see listed yet:
We also drafted two other kinds of tables, one to track upgrades (additions, modifications) that people have made to particular tools (for instance, the desktop spectrometer):
...and another to hold questions related to a particular research area (for instance, spectrometry):
Check out this much easier, automated way to organize content into grids:
After creating the first grids manually, WebWorkingGroup quickly created an automated way to make the grids. We created a power tag to add an Activity Grid to your wiki page with just a few characters, like this:
This automated Activity Grid fills itself in with all research notes tagged with the key word you used. Consider the keyword "spectrometry": a grid on a wiki page created with the powertag
[activities:spectrometry] will pull in all content (notes/questions) tagged with the powertag
activity:spectrometry. Check it out on https://publiclab.org/wiki/sandbox, look at the tables, then click "edit" to see how the tables were generated. The tables have various columns, such as "difficulty" (like easy, moderate, or hard), which can be filled out by adding more tags on the research notes. We're working on a tagging interface to make tagging less mysterious:
Help kick the tires!
These draft "Activity Grids" are ready for you to test drive! How?
- Browse the activity grids and try out someone's activity. Responding via the button "Post your attempt to replicate this activity" will count your work as a "replication" on both the original note and in the grid.
- If you've previously posted an activity on publiclab.org, read through it and see what you could add/edit to make it easier for someone else to follow, then tag it so it will appear in the relevant Activity Grid.
- Want to organize a content on a new (or existing) wiki page? add one or more of these power tags...
...and to pipe content into the grid, go back to your original notes and add the powertag
activity:spectrometry. To fill out the columns for each activity, use the tagging interface to add additional powertags or directly type:
If you want any assistance, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll help you get it going!