Topsoil is a new tool that will allow you to take your old static webpages and transform them into a dynamic, informationally rooted website. If your website were a tree and you were the gardener, topsoil would be the rich loam that you could depend on to keep your tree flourishing and connected to the growing web.

The idea of a webmaster is obsolete. Webmastered sites are like vases of cut flowers: the only way to keep them fresh is to continually buy more flowers. What is the point of paying someone for flowers you can grow with less effort yourself?

Imagine instead a community garden. The joy of gardening is getting your hands dirty, working with the earth to create new life within the world that you live in. The topsoil gives you a rich base for your site to grow in, and the community provides the tools and helping hands you need to care for the plants that you love.

Unpacking the Metaphor

The idea behind topsoil is that there is grass and there are trees. Grass refers to the AboutUs commons, i.e. stuff that belongs to everyone. Trees, on the other hand, are external websites that AboutUs hosts in a special way. Users can have their websites slurped in by AboutUs so that it gets wiki-ized. A big edit button appears on every hosted page so that the user can easily edit pages the wiki way. Also, the AboutUs commons becomes available under the user's domain name and the user's branding and styling can be applied to the commons so that the look stays coherent.

  • Trees (the Canopy) are websites that target a specific audience ... external websites that AboutUs hosts in a special way
    • Signal to Noise ... Filter Recent Changes
    • Branding ... your own url, your own skin
    • Easy linking with the commons
  • Grass and shrubs (the Groundcover) is the AboutUs commons ... the shared content layer
  • Topsoil is the application that hosts the Canopy and Groundcover content
  • A network of Bedrock servers and web browsers provide the computing platform that Topsoil runs on top of


  • ElectricSheep ... wander around harvesting bits to compost
  • GreenThumb ... a browser extension and Bedrock proxy that adds a user's computer into the Bedrock network
  • WeNameInitiative a wiki, where (nearly) each page is accessable by a domain-name to be developed, using shared definition, action and multimedia pages. This wiki is served by a domain-registrar, such that domains can be bought and sold there. fridemar 17:00, 11 March 2008 (PDT)


Topsoil is a distributed collaboration application that runs on top of a network of Bedrock servers and web browsers.

The Topsoil Toolshed includes the following collaborative editing tools

Regular users of Topsoil will want to install GreenThumb, the browser extension that supports SimultaneousEditing and OfflineEditing.


Topsoil Mockup.png


  • Plan the migration
  • Linking and create page fully working
  • Crawling ... ruby webspider
  • Formatting buttons working
  • Double click or edit button on transclusions

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