I am constantly surprised by the work that Max programmers accomplish. Whether creating video projection effects, sensor-based installations, generative compositions or immersive 3-D worlds, the breadth of work produced is amazing. But there is more to the Max community than that – it is also a group of people that are anxious to share the things they learn.
As a company, we’ve worked hard to create the documentation necessary to take advantage of new technologies and new features. But there are limits to the amount of content we can develop, and difficulties in meeting the diverse needs of our users’ interests. As a result, we’ve decided to open up a new avenue for information to be created and disseminated by our employees - and also by our users.
The mechanism that we are using is a Wiki system (MediaWiki, to be precise). This is the backbone behind the Wikipedia online encyclopedia, and represents a flexible and robust way to store information. Everything about a Wiki is flexible; you can modify the organization, contents and presentation of a Wiki without going through any sort of vetting procedures. Thus, a Wiki is perfect for a community that wants to share and is willing to have the content management process be open and transparent.
What makes sense to place within a Wiki? We think it is a great place for all sorts of information: extended reference material, tutorials, discussions of technique and methods for working with hardware. We’ve started the system with a few top-level categories:
- All About Max: This is the location for information about Max itself. It is a great place for tutorials and curriculum on Max training, but it is also where we’ve placed the extended reference material. Right now, most of these reference pages are placeholders; if you have information about how you use a particular object, this is a great place to share your notes.
- Max Interfaces: This is where we talk about technologies that exist outside of Max. Hardware information lives here (and we have some placeholders for the Kinect, Lemur and Monome), but this is also a good place for virtual technology interfaces such as DMX and OSC.
- Topics and Techniques: Have you been using Max long enough to remember the old Topic and Tutorials manual? This was a useful repository for discussion of special features and functions used in Max programming, and also is a good location for Max-wide discoveries. If you want to talk (or read) about concepts larger than a single object, or to talk about operating the Max application, this is your home!
- People and Places: Are you interested in Max workshops, schools that teach Max or people that can do consulting? Or do you give workshops or teach classes? Look here for information, and feel free to add your own information in this area.
It is the final section that is probably the most important part of the Max Wiki. Labeled “Do you want to write an article?”, this section provides the information you need to edit articles, include web and media links into your article, and interface with the existing categories of the current site format. Entering information into a Wiki is pretty straightforward, but you may want to look in here to make sure you get the best formatting available for your content.
The Wiki couldn’t have come to life without the work of a lot of people. Gregory Taylor, the Wiki Gardener, did a lot of research before selecting the MediaWiki tool, and has led the charge to make it happen. The entire Cycling ’74 web team helped integrate the Wiki into the rest of the site (have you noticed the Wiki tab now available in searches?), and is helping provide support and maintenance for the future.
But more of all, we want to thank you, the users of Max, for your willingness to share. It is this openness that has created an incredible community of media artists and developers.
Note: In order to help get the Max Wiki started – and to celebrate the sharing – we are offering a bonus for the first 50 major content contributors – a “Give Max to a Friend” coupon, which provides a free 12-month Max license to anyone that has not previously owned Max. Once you’ve updated the Wiki with something that you feel is “significant” content, drop me (ddg @ cycling74 . com) an email and I will provide you with a serial number to provide to someone you may know.