The Enclyclopedia Alchibah was the precurser to Colony Universe.
Project E/A From the Log Files of William Bartlett
The Encyclopedia Alchibah project was dear to the Historians heart. And as near as I can tell he started it all on his own, though Captain Travis must have been involved in some way or another. Surprisingly, to those of us who worked with him on the Mayflower, it might even have beat farming in his hierarchy of values. I was cudgeled into the writing at the Historian’s request and Captain Travis‘s command. I can see how it tied into what the Hist must have done in his past life and could also recognize its potential usefulness, but the time it took out of my present was considerable.
I did like the idea of an Encyclopedia Advisory Board EAB. I just wanted the sleepers to get out of cryo so that one of them could get on and I could get off. The Hist seemed to think the stay awake crew would be stuck on the Board forever. “Another benefit of service”, is how he phrased it.
The Encyclopedia was set up like this. It had two sections, Entries and Log Files. Any Colonist could make an entry under his own name. Entries were to be factual discoveries or historical descriptions of happenings during the voyage and colonization. When first posted they were tagged as provisional. One of the duties of an E/A Board member was to read the provisional entries and give an up or down vote on inclusion. The Hist said that he expected to add about 5 more people to the board when we reached Alchibah. These people he said would be chosen from colonists with expertise in areas the current board members lacked. Once 40% of the Board voted to include an entry the provisional tag was removed. Those provisional entries that didn’t receive the 40% vote for inclusion into the main data base were retained in the provisional section of the E/A. No censorship!
Arte Clark, after a few weeks worth of debate, convinced even the Historian that at times censorship could be both necessary and proper. An 80% vote of the Board could remove a post from the visible sections of the E/A but those entries would still be retained and viewable by the Advisory Board.
Log Files were like personal diaries and could contain anything a person wanted to release for public consumption. A Log file, or section of one, would get posted into the E/A proper if a board member, read it, proposed it, and 40% of the board voted to do so. If not it was still retained in the Log Files.
All entries, but not log files, could be added to or edited by any colonist. Edits would be marked as provisional and the original text retained until 40% of the Board agreed to the change. Even at this point the edit history would be retained.
The main thing, as the Historian explained it, was to create a history unique to the Alchibah experience. He said “We will not duplicate but we will innovate. This will be a kind of Wiki done right.“ A problem with the first Wikipedia many felt was the lack of editorial oversight. Entries were said to be changed for partisan purposes and truth determined by vote of the majority. The problem with the present version permitted by the UNWG was that only governmentally approved ideas were allowed.
The Hist said that getting an entry into the Encyclopedia Alchibah should become a rite of passage for future generations. “Write enough and someday you will all be famous.” Famous or dead, I thought, and not looking for famous just now I would have gladly settled for a bit more sleep.
After a 2 years on the Mayflower and 2 years of making entries, some of them I considered pretty lame, I said “What’s the point of all this work right now Hist? If this colony works the E/A will grow so much that everything we do or say will be published and be found with ease. What the heck most of it‘s in the log files anyway.” I added, “Look Hist I got a million ideas for Encyclopedia entries and once all the colonists are up anyone of them could fill in the details. Why don‘t I just make a list?“
The Hist smiled and said. “Bart, Ideas are a dime a dozen. Words are a penny apiece.”