This article is the first of a series of stories to meet more people behind WikiToLearn! Today we speak with Daniele Pannozzo, one of the most active editors, from Southern Italy. This is Daniele’s User page (Italian).
Hello Daniele! Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?
Hi, I am an undergraduate physics student. I am 21 and I study in Sapienza, Rome. I live in a little town in the south Lazio (central Italy). My hobbies are reading, playing videogames and my main interests are physics, science in general, literature and philosophy.
What do you do for a living?
Actually, I am a full-time student and even if I don’t have many relations, I’m facing several problems with the studies. (do you know complex analysis? Me neither, but you don’t have an exam in a week). So, perhaps it’s not a good idea to find a job at this moment. Anyway, when I am not busy with studies (as in summer), I usually work to survive, away from the sun and the people.
What do you do for WikiToLearn?
In WikiToLearn I am an editor. I wrote some courses in the Physics department (just for the Italian portal, I don’t feel so confident with English to be able to translate them). Actually I am working on a course, which is Elettromagnetismo (Electrodynamics), trying to give our site a well structured, planned and written book with examples, exercise and images. Now we have several notes collections, but there is no book which could be used as a textbook in the university. I’m trying to write it.
Also, I’ve been quite lucky, in that, everytime I log into the site I find at least a bug. So over the months I have become an unofficial bug-finder for the developers of WikiToLearn. I also try to help where I can help. I don’t know coding so well, so the tech side of the project is out from my reach, for now.
How did you get started contributing to WikiToLearn?
I joined the project in December 6, 2015, thanks to a post published by Davide Maggiorelli on the faculty Facebook group (Fisica Sapienza). At that time, my idea was to write good math books for high school (when I was at high school I found those books horrifying and awful, so I had to study math and analysis on university textbooks) because the ones we had was awful and not so clear. The project is mainly focused on universities, so the first course I wrote was analysis, but for university. To date I have still not written that book for high schools, but who knows, in the future..
How much time do you spend working on WikiToLearn?
Actually the 80% of my free time is dedicated to WikiToLearn. The writing of Elettromagnetismo fills all my free time, so, when I have a free moment, I turn on my pc and write some pages. Also, creating images requires more time than I’d planned, with the result that I write the pages and, later, I create the images I need to use.
What keeps you motivated?
First of all, I love what I study. I think that, if I didn’t love physics so much, I would never write about it. Also, as Physics student, I have to admit that we don’t have so many good books in italian: the most of them are written for engineering, so they don’t explain what they have to or, sometimes, they also provide wrong information about the topics. Therefore, we are forced to use english textbooks, which are better for many reasons. To have a good Italian book, someone has to write it. I don’t think I’m writing a good book, but it can be a good base to use, in the future, for someone finally write one.
The other courses I wrote in these months, were collections of notes, and I wrote them mainly to help my classmates, who appreciated my work. That is to me, the best motivation to keep writing – someone who appreciates your work.
What are some of your future goals for your involvement with WikiToLearn?
To date I am the only developer who studies in Sapienza. In think in the future people will know WikiToLearn, so I hope people in my university will start contributing to the project Therefore I chould help them in taking their first steps into WikiToLearn. For now, since I live away from other members of the project, and also as I am busy with studies, I continue being what I am: an editor.
What are the most interesting aspects of WikiToLearn?
I think there are many on these; for example, WikiToLearn helps me studying: I reorder my notes twice, once on my notebooks and then on WikiToLearn, giving them a cleaner and more complete meaning. When I write the notes on the site I ask myself: “How can I explain this topic to someone who has no idea of the course?” So I can improve them, clarifying the discussions and this really helps me understanding what I study. It so happened that, at the end of the semester, I downloaded my notes and printed them, cause they were better than the ones I hand-wrote in my notebooks.
Another interesting aspect is the possibility to work together with someone else: actually I write alone (for several reasons, which are that no one of my mates wants to help me and, of course, other people have different classes from mine; also I give my notes a style and a continuity which gives the book a general organisation) but, if two or more people want to write a collection of notes together, the site gives them the best way to do it.
And, if there are already are notes about the topic you want to write, you can reorder these, without starting from zero, using the work of someone else as a base for yours.
What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of WikiToLearn?
As mentioned earlier, I like playing videogames. I like reading (I have a great library, which I consider to be my treasure). I’m actually reading some books about physics and continuing my reading of One Piece (if you are thinking about reading it, DON’T DO IT, you will be another victim of the author and, like me, you will die before it ends). My preferred authors are Tolkien and Dostoevskij. My three preferred books are Silmarillion, The Karamazov Brothers and Faust (by J.W. Goethe).
I like art and science in general. I dislike Chemistry and Engineering, but of course I acknowledge there are other nice sciences except Physics (such as Particle Physics, Matter Physics, Cosmology… I’m joking, don’t worry). I also like sleeping, eating, drinking and loving cats, even if i don’t have one yet. In my future, I can see a life full of cats and sadness.
Do you have any advice for people who want to start contributing to an Open Source project?
“Go on” could be okay? I don’t know, what advice I have to give except “Go on and enjoy it”? Actually Open Source is an open space in which everyone who wants to contribute can do it as he can, so there are no problems about that. I have an idea about all this. There is no reason to run behind money or fame. Many of my friends, when I said them my work on WikiToLearn is completely free, said “Are you crazy? Why don’t you sell your note? You can make good money this way”. What reason do I have to do this? Even if I could do 1000€ selling my notes (which is an astronomic number for such a “job”), this money would not change my life. But my notes can change the life of someone else. Many people have thanked me for the notes, saying that they passed their exams studying from them. There is no reason other than this to contribute to WikiToLearn (or a general open source project): you have no direct earnings, but you will help people, and your work would not be erased, so it will help you in the future to find a job you like.
There is no reason to follow money, it won’t change your life and people won’t be thankful to you.