I came across Physiopedia when the site creator, Rachael Lowe, followed me on Twitter. Physiopedia is a free (to access, not edit) physiotherapy reference that has a great emphasis on being evidence based. You must be a registered physiotherapist to get an account that enables you to contribute, which is how the site maintains quality control. A quick overview of the articles reveals that this is indeed a high quality resource for physiotherapy clinicians, educators and students. Perhaps the best thing about each article is not only the concise information it presents, but the reference list it provides for each article, pointing the reader to original resources. It’s a very impressive effort.
You may wonder why I’m mentioning Physiopedia since my own site, OpenPhysio, is an attempt to be the same thing…a free physiotherapy resource for clinicians, educators and students. There are however, some differences that I think are worth pointing out, the main one of which is the issue of licensing. All the content published on OpenPhysio is specifically released under this Creative Commons license, which allows anyone to take that content and share, distribute and adapt the work, so long as they provide attribution to the original source, don’t make any money from it, and agree to share it under the same conditions. I think this is an important distinction that in itself, is enough to differentiate the two projects. Not that Physiopedia is using some heinous license, it’s just that it’s not specifically open. The other thing that stands out immediately is the clean aesthetic and writing style of Physiopedia.
I think that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done on OpenPhysio if it’s going to participate in a field with such high quality content, but that’s the whole point isn’t it? As long as there are people pushing this agenda, the future of free and open content is looking good. At the end of the day, the more information that’s available for physiotherapists and students, the stronger we’ll become as a profession.
Note (06/04/09): I just received an email from Rachael stating that Physiopedia used the GFDL, a great license for promoting open content.