How do we organise, archive, and communicate our collective knowledge?

Hi everyone! Just wanted to share here that a few of us will be meeting next week to discuss Zotero as a knowledge management tool. You can read more about the next meeting on this thread: Self-hosted apps for GOSH - #27 by briannaljohns

Feel free to join!



Not actually, it won’t… The forum is searchable. If people ever discuss this again they can either remember there had been a discussion or simply be smart and start by searching past exchanges. I recently wanted to try to list all GOSH exchanges about the roadmaps, and to find where the issue of policy emerged, and using the search led me straightforwardly to the bulk of the info I needed (including links to specific GoogleDocs to examine). Information that is searchable is not lost, so I think that, for such cases, one may see a problem where there isn’t one.

The fact that forum is public, centrally searchable and managed by us is important for that. While information shared on Whatsapp or other places do not fall into this case, while some things like Google Docs might not be as bad since people tend to share the links here with some context, that makes them indirectly searchable. I think a more general practice of “use the forum wherever possible and, if not possible, leave a trace there” would solve a lot of the issues you raise, with little or no extra work.


Thank you for the input @solstag.

The fact that forum is public, centrally searchable and managed by us is important for that.

I agree this greatly helps keep information in one place. And Discourse’s search and typing suggestion features help find that information. This is all very good!

However, I probably wasn’t clear enough about the problem I am concerned with. I was using this forum as an example of a higher level challenge, which is how institutional/organisational knowledge is synthesized and effectively passed on.

To use the forum example, sure conversations are recorded, but what was learned from them are not collectively remembered, and (mostly) only people who were there would ever think of to search for that information in that thread. Not to mention when you search, you don’t know what things you are missing that’s not shown in the search results.

Another example from this forum is that discussions around knowledge management also just came up in this other thread about self-hosted apps. @dusjagr provided a great summary of a chat we just had about the topic (thanks @dusjagr!), but it is not obvious at all that a substantial comment about knowledge management happened in a thread titled “Self-hosted apps for GOSH”.

@briannaljohns’s newsletters got me to think more about this, and brought me to this excellent overview of digital gardening by Maggie Appleton. Digital gardening involves a specific methodology for synthesising, organising, and recording learnings, but for this post I’ll share this illustration from Appleton’s article:

On the left are what I think of as “raw data”, bits of conversations and messages some of which are potentially valuable. On the right are highly synthesised outputs like books and research papers. For GOSH, things like the Events Framework, policy documents, or the GOSH Manifesto would lie on the right. Forum threads would be more on the left, though not as far as Twitter threads.

The digital garden is in the middle, where there is continuous “cultivation” where things we are learning from the raw data are summarised. Something similar to this are @briannaljohns’s newsletters. The thing with newsletters is that they are organised by time, rather than ideas or concepts in a digital garden.

@dusjagr mentioned they tried “wiki gardening” for Hackteria, but it was difficult to pull off. I suspect this is true if there’s no sustained effort from dedicated people. Maybe this is also true for GOSH, but as a learning experience and experiment, I’m happy to give it a try.

And there would be value in this if digital gardening is successful. For example, someone completely new to GOSH could look at the garden and get a better overview of the conversations going on, the main topics/ideas that we GOSH has collectively learned about, and perhaps even who to talk to about what. This is less intimidating than being thrown into a forum where you might be overwhelmed with a ton of past threads you didn’t participate in.

I don’t know how far this idea can get, but would be happy to explore it with some of you if there’s interest. We can try different tools and methodologies and just see what happens! (?)


@briannaljohns: Is there an archive of past newsletters? I’ve been thinking one (relatively) simple thing we can do is to maintain such an archive, but also organise it by theme/topic/tags rather than just by time. This way, the synthesis you do every month can be added to a growing semi-knowledge repository?

Hey @hpy! You can see the past newsletters under the newsletter tag on the forum, each thread has a URL preview of the monthly newsletter (except for October and November 2021 - there were issues with these ones for some reason). However, I’m open to suggestions as to where we could store them!

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I’ve got other notes coming to this thread, but a quick random thought first:

Rather than trying to gather and organise all of our collective knowledge in one go, there’s this thread where we’ve been discussing the numerous open source tools used for GOSH. Maybe we can do something in a more structured way to capture that knowledge and put it somewhere, maybe as a page on the GOSH website that explains our tech stack and tools we use, plus where we’d like to be…

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You might also want to contribute to my GraphCommons “Open Hardware Landscape” (up 500 nodes allowed in the free plan). So far, there are no weights behind nodes and edges, so please don’t klick “Play/Simulate”, but feel free to add your knowledge about stakeholder of Open Hardware!

Supplement: GraphCommons Website and GitHub


Thanks for sharing GraphCommons, @Paul! At first glance, it looks like an implementation of mind-mapping. Is it a lot more than that? Also, too bad that it’s closed source (their GitHub repositories seem to only have demo use cases and client-side code), but that’s beyond our direct control. :sweat_smile:

On a separate note, I recently stumbled upon Diátaxis, a “systematic framework for technical documentation authoring”. The framework breaks technical documentation into four categories:

I only had time for a skim, but found the underlying philosophy to be intriguing. I wonder if it’s applicable to open science hardware and open source hardware documentation? Has anyone used this documentation framework before?

BTW, the text of the framework itself is open source under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license and the source is here.

P.S. I stumbled upon a thread here that links to some other discussions about Diátaxis.

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My thoughts are slowly navigating towards making a GOSH wiki.

At this year’s GOSH I realized that at least a few sessions subjects had already been discussed in the forum. However previous discussions are not really organized by subject.

To me, as it stands, this means that un-conference sessions, great as they are for many things, cannot be used as a tool to grow collective knowledge.

A wiki would also provide a persistent place where those sessions could be documented, and slowly digested into proper subject articles.

So here is a request: can we start a Wiki?

Some caveats have been mentioned by @julianstirling and @dusjagr here and here. I’m requesting this with those in mind.

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I understand what you are saying here. but back to my earlier argument…
We CAN use this discourse as wiki pages and collaboratively build knowledge together, sorted by topics and following discussions.

Imho it’s more about “how to motivate and value” the archivers who structure the knowledge, and not “what technical tools are out there”. None of the tools will do the work for us.

As example the notes from the unconferencing from gosh 2022 panama, sofar are group as they happened in the schedule of the days:

we just have to sit down and unknit all the topics individually, so it’s easier to find and contribute. Also discourse even suggests, when something should fit into an existing topic. please use that function!


I’m glad you mentioned wiki posts, it got me thinking about that feature again. :slight_smile:

I have set up a few to try out the feature, and proposed something similar here.

While I agree, wiki posts are still posts in a forum, not pages/articles in a wiki. There are many differences to consider, not just the collaborative editing feature.

For example, a readability issue is evident in the first post of that thread: GOSH 2022 SESSIONS Documentation - THURSDAY Block # 3 (01:00 pm). Longer posts with more varied content will also be harder to edit here.

My main argument against the wiki is splitting content and participation into different websites. A massive amount work went into putting the Roadmap into GitLab issues, and this ended with only 2-4 users participating. Using Discourse wiki posts would not generate this problem.

I also imagine that re-purposing Discourse as a wiki could work. But I would be careful with planning how, and consider the amount of work that it would actually take.

While I agree with this idea, I believe that this matter it is both about motivation and tools.

I will make a few comments on this at the next Roadmap Issues meeting!

PS: I just found an example from on how Discourse wiki-posts can be set up to auto-publish as articles on a static page. An “edit”/“discuss” button could be added to each one, pointing to the forum.


I am following this thread with great interest and would love to be a part of a working group on this, with more attention to spend on it in the new year. Having worked on distributed open publishing models during my career as an academic research librarian, I am keen to help out, keeping things values-focused, such as is outlined in the recent release from the Next Generation Library Publishing Team in the FOREST Framework


Hey everyone, I’ve also been following along this conversation.

To add into the mix, after GOSH 2022 a few of us have been discussing creating a database similar to what was mentioned. We were a little frustrated because there seemed to be a lot of interesting projects happening but we had difficulty finding documentation.

On top of that, we noted that there were most likely many academia/student projects that are not publicly published that could be, but were not due to neglect (i.e. a student graduates start into a job and forgets to upload/share their work, even though they were open to sharing). We actually are having a meeting with some developers from to discuss the possibility of adding another section on their site for open science hardware. Though I have seen the project database that @kaspar made which is really nice.

We were only having a introductory discussion with the developers to see what they could provide and how (maybe they can be partial archivers). The goal was to organize this new section in a way that people unfamiliar with OSrH can find projects and, ideally, get involved or add their own. Though we will be aware of propriety concerns as mentioned earlier in this forum.

Maybe they could link their database to the wikis that @naikymen mentioned. The documentation could be based in a centralized self-hosted GOSH wiki site (as mentioned here) with each project on it’s own individual page. Or it could redirect to the GOSH forums. These are just ideas. Open for more input from you all and what else to include in our discussion!


What interesting discussions as of late! I think @dusjagr and @naikymen both make good points. Whatever we decide to do, I think we need people who are willing to put in the sustained work needed to tend this digital garden.

I am also interested in @Sarah’s suggestions as to how a loose, international community like GOSH can find the people to come together for this gardening. Happy to follow up in early 2023.

As for the directory of interesting OScH projects that @NKArranz mentioned, I think it would first of all be a good showcase of why GOSH is important. If we successfully create this directory, it would be good to give it some visibility on GOSH’s website. One possibility is to use this directory as a starting point for knowledge management. Once we have it set up, we can start thinking about how we add other bits of knowledge to this garden. On the other hand, maybe it will be simpler to keep this OScH directory independent.

Also somewhat randomly, I was skimming through the Open Scientist Handbook by Bruce Caron, and it’s got a chapter on idea gardening, though it’s more about how ideas cross-pollinate and how current academic institutions are not conducive to great ideas…


Stumbled upon this book: Connecting the Knowledge Commons — From Projects to Sustainable Infrastructure edited by Leslie Chan and Pierre Mounier. Among other things:

How do we move from an approach entirely based on temporary projects to an approach based on community-based sustainable infrastructure?
What kinds of social and technical infrastructures could support the Knowledge Commons?

Yet another book we could read together

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And here my friend just posted a great article on Wiki gardening:

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A few ideas from a fellow gardener.

These sites are made from Obsidian Publish:

Welcome to The Quantum Well - The Quantum Well - Obsidian Publish!
publish homepage - Obsidian Publish
+ Start Here - LYT Kit
Welcome to my digital garden - Alexis Rondeau - Obsidian Publish
Welcome - Eleanor's Notes - Obsidian Publish
00 - Start here - Obsidian Hub - Obsidian Publish

  • There are free alternatives to Publish. 0. 1. 2. 3.
  • The Obsidian graph interface is similar to @Paul 's link above.
  • @jarancio above mentions Zotero, which I agree is a great resource. I generally just drag notes/annotations from Zotero into Obsidian (which auto-generates a link back to that note), but there are other integrations. 1. 2.

If I can use it (albeit poorly), it can’t be too difficult. I’m not necessarily pushing for obsidian, but perhaps some git system here that leverages links between .md files, tagging, graphs, etc. with a simple jekyll site might be more active and easier/nicer to navigate than a wiki.


Dear Colleagues,

When I get to it this summer, I will collate the open source hardware information into
something akin to The One Card Deck to Rule Them All that I generated several years ago at

I could definitely use some help organizing all that information!
Jim Brenner

2 Likes is an option, but more for a self hosted wiki on a usb-stick, or self contained file.

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Really love how comprehensive @eric’s post is about Obsidian! It looks like an amazing tool, though I’m concerned that it’s closed source which not only does not respect my digital freedoms, but also risks costly vendor lock in and forced obscelesence.

I wonder if there’s a way to achieve what Obsidian can do with TiddlyWiki as @DrBrian suggests? I’ve known about TiddlyWiki but hesitated when I learned that it uses its own mark up language instead of Markdown. Though I also know that TiddlyWiki is highly extensible, and maybe there’s a way to make it work for me.

Also looking forward to @jbrennerFIT’s “One Card Deck to Rule Them All”, which is a curious name!

Lastly, I just want to link to this thread about negative case studies of closed source hardware which is receiving useful responses. It would be good to collect these stories for our collective knowledge!