What is AstroBaki
AstroBaki is a wiki for current and aspiring scientists to collaboratively build papers, documentation, lectures, and textbooks. Textbooks in particular take a lot of work to write and get right. The more people that participate in the learning, teaching, and writing process, the better the result. And the fruits of this labor should be open and free, because science works by being open and free. Well, except for writing grants.
AstroBaki was inspired by the story of Nicolas Bourbaki. From the 1930s to the 70s, a bunch of French mathematicians got together and rewrote math collaboratively. No individual got to claim credit for the work (hence the psuedonym Bourbaki). The result were a set of useful pedagogical texts and a rejuvenation of math throughout France. Nicolas Bourbaki was a wiki ahead of its time.
The AstroBaki wiki augments the standard MediaWiki engine to accept LaTeX for rendering. The goal is for texts to be written in LaTeX for anyone to download, compile, and view, and for the very same LaTeX code to be rendered into HTML by the wiki engine for a reasonable viewing experience online. All of the standard wiki tools of collaborative writing, revision control, and attribution (if desired) apply to the LaTeX code. Ultimately, it is hoped that this method may prove effective enough to enable scientists to collaboratively write publishable papers in real-time with colleagues known and unknown to them.
To start off AstroBaki, here are lecture notes from introductory graduate astrophysics classes, typed on-the-fly in class. They are coarse, poorly edited, and possibly incorrect in places, but make up for that in sheer content. Though the elegance of the latex rendering (and writing) varies dramatically, there should be plenty of examples off of which contributors can base new contributions. Edit away!