Jun 8

Reconstituting the Metaweb

Category: Uncategorized

Bringing a wiki back to life reminds me that I’ve wanted to reconstitute the Metaweb, the wiki covering Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle. Of course, I had the database for hbmobile, which made that easy; I didn’t get it for the Metaweb, due to apparently bad timing. It got bogged down by spammers, there was an inability to upgrade the software, & it wasn’t golden, but still…

I read about the Nielsen Haydens’ work to reconstitute from caches & whatnot after a server died, & it sounds familiar.

archive.org covered the Metaweb, & so did I. It sorta looked like I’d have to set up a wikibot to read the archive & push it back out to another wiki, possibly having to massage the input for formatting (no, you can’t log in!) & massage the output to preserve timestamps. Now it looks plausible to feed the html into something that spits out an sql dump.

This also got nudged a bit by finding out that Stephenson’s got a book, Anathem, coming out late this year. Aaand now I see a name I remember from the Metaweb asking about it. So I’m going to go ask if he got a copy of the database.

Updates (8/17): Since writing this, I’ve been in touch with Metaweb collaborators Jeremy Bornstein (who gave me an Anathem copy), Alan Sinder, & Patrick Tufts (due to a question I asked on Metafilter). There’s a small (four meg), corrupted, empty copy of the database at hand, & a larger (forty meg) copy hiding somewhere.

He’s doing a tour of readings; he’ll be in San Francisco for its release party September 9th, with Anathem-inspired music & Q&A.

A friend from hbmobile has offered the use of cryptonomicon.net, which I’m considering.

Update (12/10): There’s an Anathem Wiki. the database hasn’t made an appearance, & computer problems have provided another obstacle.┬á I’ll note any progress here.

1 comment

1 Comment so far

  1. Mark September 9th, 2008 7:01 pm

    I’d love to see the Metaweb resurrected. I just picked up Anathem and I was searching to see if anyone had set up a wiki for it, which led to my discovering your post.

    I’ve got a little bit of experience — not much, but a little bit — with Python and Perl. If I can be of some small help, feel free to get in contact with me at the e-mail address I entered into this comment form.

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