The Longest Now

The self-organizing, self-repairing, hyperaddictive library of the future
Thursday February 17th 2005, 2:48 pm
Filed under: popular demand

In the March edition of WIRED, Daniel Pink has managed to turn a few personal meetings, a bit of leg-work (including a trip to the sparse Foundation headquarters in Florida), the stray historical quote and a bit of prognostication, into a poetic piece on Wikipedia. He refers to the project as the latest stage in mankind’s longstanding desire to “tame the jungle of knowledge”.

Titled “The Book Stops Here“, the piece’s layout runs to six pages, mimicing those of a gold-edged, leather-bound book. The frontispiece, showing Wales gazing levelly over a large stack of Britannica volumes and — are those the 2001 Florida Statues? — is coupled with a set of beautiful sketches of six active wikipedians (Angela, Bryan Derksen, Carptrash, Kingturtle, Ram-Man, and Raul654), whose stories are woven into the article.

Pink deals quite well with the nuances of community collaboration, good faith, administrators, stewards, and developers, and brilliantly captures vignettes of individual contributors and motivations.
Perhaps the one bit of internal culture he gets slightly off is the tone of the admiration community members show towards founder Jimmy Wales — the cheerful irony that accompanies the term “God-King” in wiki circles, is unlikely to carry over to an audience used to hearing the term associated with infallible emperors of times long past.

The one glaring omission in the article is an acknowledgement of the project’s unparallelled multilinguality. The only mention of other languages is a single sentence discussing the size of the encyclopedia — “Tack on the editions in 75 other languages, including Esperanto and Kurdish, and the total Wikipedia article count tops 1.3 million.” Surely that 60% of the project deserves more than a nod. Similarly, other Wikimedia projects go unremarked, though WikiCities gets a few paragraphs.

Charles Van Doren‘s 1962 essay, “The Idea of an Encyclopedia” in “The American Behavioral Scientist” is called in to wrap the piece up (Van Doren later became a senior Britannica editor):

“[T]he ideal encyclopedia should be radical. It should stop being safe…. what will be respectable in 30 years seems avant-garde now. If an encyclopedia hopes to be respectable in 2000, it must appear daring in the year 1963.”

Pink’s conclusion? “You can’t evaluate Wikipedia by traditional encyclopedia standards.” Nevertheless, he feels the project is “about to become respectable.”

Other great quotes from the article:

  • “The God-King drives a Hyundai.”
  • “Wikipedia requires that the perfect never be the enemy of the good.”
  • “Among the nearly half-million articles are tens of thousands whose quality easily rivals that of Britannica or Encarta.”
  • “One night he corrected an error in an article… his first inhalation of Wiki crack.”

SCO prepares for delisting from NASDAQ
Thursday February 17th 2005, 2:23 pm
Filed under: poetic justice

As SCO prepares to be delisted, the rest of the world (at least those of them who give a damn) wonder idly what will happen to their IP.

SCO prepares for delisting from NASDAQ …

the defeated nomenclature
Thursday February 17th 2005, 2:21 pm
Filed under: null

While reading up on international 50-year ”’identities”’ the other day, and thinking about how fundamental names are (even in this post-biblical and post-$10M domain-name purchase era), it occurred to me that I should take more seriously the matter of preemptive name-conflation.

I keep running across other SJ’s on the web (some of whom don’t even know how to pluralize or punctuate “SJ“), so I thought I’d just clear up some of my private identity crisis by keeping tabs on them all. After an early on-wiki attempt to do this, I realized there were enough instances to warrant a separate story on the issue. I hear some people have entire sites devoted to people with their name… but that seems like overkill.

If you find (or ARE) a particularly compelling version of me out in the rest of the world, ping me and I’ll update the list. I think the only reason I never did this before was my abiding shame that a nutrition doctor name Samuel Klein was vastly more popular than I… but his clever SEO schemes could only hold out for so long.

Wikinews gets a scoop, gets laid
Thursday February 17th 2005, 1:50 pm
Filed under: metrics

Well, a scoop at least. The “SHA-1 broken” story broke on Wikinews, and then Slashdot (with just a Wikinews link) almost 12 hours before it broke in other international English-language press. Presumably the original source was in Chinese… WN also just got written up as a possible salvation for the future in BusinessWeek, which is pretty nicely laid out.

Huzzahs all around, in particular to the trio of crackers — all women, thankyouverymuch — who ‘deprecated’ the infamously hoary algorithm.

I love a world in which that can refer to something less than twenty years old!

Wikinews gets a scoop, gets laid …

Wikimania accepting papers
Thursday February 17th 2005, 8:30 am
Filed under: international

Wikimania is now accepting submissions of papers on a variety of subjects.

Everyone within and outside of Wikipedia are invited to suggest panel
discussions they would like to see, submit abstracts for lectures and
workshops, and submit abstracts for brief papers or posters they would
like to present. The audience will consist primarily of active
Wikimedia users from all over the world.

Topics should contribute to Wikimedia’s projects and its goals.
Original research is not needed but welcome.  Wikimania is meant
to be a social event as well as an academic conference, so be bold in
your submissions.  Suitable topics include but are not limited to:

Wiki culture

* Research into wiki culture (philosophy & sociology)

* Criticism of the efficacy of wiki collaboration and communities

Wiki projects and tools

* Succesful subprojects on your favorite Wikipedia

* Existing or proposed wiki projects, and their parallels in the non-wiki world

* Ways to enhance or integrate existing projects and their communities

* New wiki software and interfaces

* Corporate wikis,

Free culture

* Free knowledge, free licensing, and its applications

* Universal access, automatic conversion between formats, fonts, and languages

* Preservation and distribution of knowledge and cultural information


* Collaborative writing and research

* Collective intelligence, “excellence from mediocrity”

* Tools for better-nuanced / more immediate collaborative feedback


* Multilingual interaction, related translation issues

* Integration of international perspectives; similar global projects

* Linguistic projects; uses of our multilingual corpus

* Preservation of minority languages

(read more…)

Wikimania accepting papers …

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