The Longest Now

Some local files, for your pleasure
Saturday April 30th 2005, 4:30 am
Filed under: %a la mod

Tweaks, bugs, and fun.

Some local files, for your pleasure …

Google Print is growing, growing…
Wednesday April 27th 2005, 3:27 pm
Filed under: %a la mod

Very sexy. Is there some way to report a poorly-OCR’ed page?

Google Print is growing, growing… …

Transcript of the Queen of Engl^B^B^B^B^B Jimmy Wales’ Harvard Law School Talk
Wednesday April 27th 2005, 5:09 am
Filed under: metrics

With bird song accompaniment, Jimmy Wales focused on international, multi-lingual Wikipedia efforts. An IRC transcript is available.

Transcript of the Queen of Engl^B^B^B^B^B Jimmy Wales’ Harvard Law School Talk …

Directmedia purchases digital rights to 10,000 photos
Tuesday April 26th 2005, 2:37 pm
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory

Directmedia Publishing, the publishing house that this month released the second snapshot of the German Wikipedia on DVD (which has already sold its first run of 10k discs) has purchased the digital rights to 10,000 photos of works of fine art. They did so in order to release them under a free license, so that among other things they can be used to improve Wikipedia.

Jimmy Wales law school speech: IRC transcript
Monday April 25th 2005, 7:49 pm
Filed under: metrics

Jimmy Wales gabve a presentation for the whole of Jonathan Zittrain’s penultimate class today. An IRC transcript is available. There was also an audiostream, which will probably be archived; links as they turn up.

All the news that’s fit to cast
Thursday April 21st 2005, 1:30 pm
Filed under: indescribable

Podcasting is hot. Even Forbes is writing about it. How will ratings of it work out? Is PodcastPickle just a joke? You tell me…

Boston Cyberarts 2005!
Thursday April 21st 2005, 4:20 am
Filed under: popular demand

The Boston Cuberarts festival kicks off tonight, Thursday, at 6pm at the Hotel@MIT. Deliciously cool people will be there in force, including the ineffable Martin Wattenberg and, oddly enough, yours truly. Through the javalicious genius of Daniel Wunsch, I will be bringing the joys of rcbirds (a live audio feed of recentchanges) to the assembled cyberati.

See Event #10 on their calendar for this week. If you want to come say hello for a few mins, and have trouble getting in, give me a call: 617 5 2 9 4266.

To enjoy the glories of a real-time audio-feed of Recentchanges (with different sound cues for different classes of edits), see the rcbirds project page, and set it up on your local machine. I find this to be just the right level of detail to make my editing really enjoyable; the English Wikipedia feels like a small community again when I have this running in the background.

If you want to use this with English Wikipedia, you can download my English config files and replace the config/ directory with them. New: Support for namespace differentiation, better troll-alerts, quieter background sound.

Tuesday, 8:30 pm
Wednesday April 20th 2005, 5:26 am
Filed under: %a la mod

Don’t let my last rant obscure the more important bit: that you should come out on Tuesday and talk to Jimmy Wales in person.

Tuesday, 8:30 pm …

On the subject of Wikipedia…
Wednesday April 20th 2005, 4:45 am
Filed under: %a la mod

Larry Sanger recently had a friend post two very long sections of an upcoming memoir to Slashdot, providing a well-linked and verbose look at the history of Wikipedia. He also tooted his own horn a bit more than was absolutely necessary, but so it is with memoirs.

The links interested me a great deal, in part because Anthere and I have been gathering a similar retrospective — focused on the community’s recollections, not on those of any single person, and with less of a narrative arc or agenda. I would like to reproduce what I think is a seminal quote (3/4 of the way down the page) from the colourful history of Nu/Wikipedia :

Our concept of Wikipedia is not as a little fun project that amuses a few people on the Internet. For that, employees certainly would not necessary. Instead, we envision Wikipedia as–eventually–a serious competitor for all proprietary encyclopedias. We think that the concepts behind Wikipedia and Nupedia are so robust that, with proper guidance, within ten or twenty years, we might have the greatest encyclopedia in history. We believe that we will be able to produce cheap, reliable copies of the encyclopedia, sold for the cost of printing (or copying) or supported by donations, that can be used for educational purposes around the world, particularly in places that have few books or other educational materials available. It is, frankly, silly to think that this sort of large-scale project could be properly managed without paid employees. The notion that nonprofit projects should lack paid employees is just irrational and unjustified, and threatens to shoot the very success of this project in the foot.

      –Larry Sanger, responding to a fork of the Spanish Wikipedia, [27 feb, 2002, 16:56 EST]

This was during the month after Sanger stopped being paid to be the project’s editor-in-chief, and before he left the project altogether, while he still clearly felt strong ownership of it and attachment to it. One could go through this quote, sentence by sentence, and expose a dozen assumptions that do not scale efficiently (sense of “we” and ownership, glorification of concepts and individual guidance, sense of competition with other information providers, confused view of “fun” as non-productive). However, I would just like to highlight one sentence:

It is, frankly, silly to think that this sort of large-scale project could be properly managed without paid employees.

To the contrary, Wikipedia is a modern reminder that we have no idea how far one can scale the “management” of a complicated and nuanced project without the notion of paid “employees” as managers. This form of management may well scale better than one involving explicit chains of command and pay grades.

In fact, let me suggest that most of the largest ‘projects’ undertaken by civilization have involved entire societies, and have not been financed by any individual, or through any rigid organization or heirarchy. (One particular exception recently elected a new leader.)

There have recently been suggestions from various quarters, repeating Larry’s sentiments above — not in the context of editing, but in the context of publishing, or publicity, or grant-writing, or translation. I hope that those suggestions will be backed up very carefully, and not presented casually as common sense.

Wikipedia and the Digital Divide: Free Licensing for a Free World
Wednesday April 20th 2005, 12:07 am
Filed under: popular demand

Save the date!

  • When : Tuesday, April 26, at 8:30pm
  • Where: in Pound Hall 101 [map]
  • What : Jimmy Wales talks about Wikipedia and free knowledge.

There may even be free pizza. Come have a great free time…

Penultimate Papacy?
Tuesday April 19th 2005, 6:38 pm
Filed under: %a la mod

So, Ratzinger has been elected the new Pope. Which prophecy is it that says the next pope will be Peter II the Last?

Citizen Journalism discussion tonight
Thursday April 14th 2005, 7:41 pm
Filed under: popular demand

We’re broadcasting (tech stuff willing) at: beginning around 7 pm EST.
A few of us will be hanging out on Internet Relay Chat (IRC), too:
Someone will probably take live notes at a URL to be determined, but
on the Thursday Meetings at Berkman Blog.

Check out our agenda:

Urban Polygraph
Tuesday April 12th 2005, 3:29 pm
Filed under: chain-gang

In the silliest iteration of Urban Challenge yet, the challenge which compensated for its humdrum clues with the physical limitation of running about the city and the personal limitation of no more than 2 team-members (runners) per team, is now adding an online version of their challenge which involves no movement at all; and tries to compensate instead with the lure of the lotto.

Win a 1 in 11 chance at $1,000,000!” they proclaim. As long as you’re willing to sit through a polygraph test to verify you didn’t cheat. And then come down to New York to endure one of the online-plus-physical challenges, broadcast on television. I don’t know… even Survivor was more appealing to me, somehow. But if it gets civilization even more in the mood of rewarding under-pressure problem-solving rather than simply sports, I can’t be entirely against it.

Wikipedia Deathwatch: Andrea Dworkin (practice makes perfect)
Tuesday April 12th 2005, 3:16 pm
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory

”Imagine an encyclopedia that had someone’s death noted in their biography before the first major news outlet had even published an obituary.” —Joe Gratz on Dworkin and WP

Andrea Dworkin, a famous radical feminist known (among other things) for her strident opposition to pornography, died Saturday, April 9, at her home in DC. Just before 2100 UTC of the same day, her Wikipedia bio was updated accordingly. The editor who made the update was a new account, created only to modify her bio and update the list of deaths for April 9. The next day, the death information was removed on two separate occasions for 4 hours each time, while editors debated the reliability of the source on the article’s talk page, and looked for better sources. By 1700 UTC, April 10, the active editors of the page had decided that they had sufficient verification to leave mention of her death in the article.

Just before 1800 UTC, April 11 (45 or 31 hours later, depending on how you count), the UK’s Guardian put out the first obituary notice published in the major news media, and was kind enough to mention in a full-length article that while doing their research, they had found Wikipedia to be the only published source.

In case you haven’t been following along at home, recent deathwatch items (offset from mainstream media announcements): Schiavo (simultaneous), JPII (ditto), Cochran (+20 minutes), Dworkin (+31 hours).

Things you never knew existed
Tuesday April 12th 2005, 5:48 am
Filed under: indescribable

…, Inc. A few sample items.

A game of Roulette:

“Feel the fear! Fear isn’t the only thing you’ll feel when you play this exciting game of chance…. Not recommended for small children, cowards, the extremely unlucky, or persons with a medical condition.”

A coughing ashtray:

Hilarious gag that will have them laughing (and hopefully quitting smoking) instead of coughing! …4″ square.

Removable body tattoos:

Now you can get inked by night and keep your day job…

I won’t go into the farting pens, monkeys, and aerosol cans that litter the site; these are things I was glad I didn’t know existed.

Things you never knew existed …

Saturday April 09th 2005, 2:28 am
Filed under: indescribable

I’d like to indulge in a little googlewhackamole, to clear the old noggin.

The Grimmelbeast and TheWalfish, trapped in the city whose inherent power spawned the Great Beantown Molasses Disaster, have both been on my mind today during this best of all possible hours; and not because of the godseyeball business, either.

now: the longest night
Saturday April 09th 2005, 1:42 am
Filed under: fly-by-wire

You’d think that just getting through long weeks was the hard part. But then there’s the introspection. I’m planning to be up all night bringing you all news from today’s Signal or Noise conference at HLS, transcripts from sessions of the same, translations of your own personal whuffie stacks, and new Current Events. I hope you appreciate this.

Bad Behavior has blocked 807 access attempts in the last 7 days.