~ Archive for international ~

Wikimania planning meeting tonight


Come to the Berkman Center tonight at 8pm to support and plan a local Wikimania bid for next summer.  The initial congress last summer in Frankfurt brought together 350 students, academics, entrepreneurs and other community members for 3 days of energetic collaboration.  It was a joyful and productive event.

Next summer, Berkman hopes to host the sequel.  Wikipedians in
town are meeting tonight to discuss what a conference in  Boston
home to over 55 colleges and 150,000 students — would be
like.   Help us brainstorm about how the congress could take
advantage of what our city has to offer, how we could make this a great
experience for people from all over the world, and how it could enrich
local programs already in

Wikimania 2006 : coming to Boston?


Boston is putting out a bid
to host the second Wikimania congress this coming summer (soon we won’t
be able to help calling it an annual event).  If you have
suggestions about what to do in or around Boston, or groups that you’d
like to see involved with such an event (particularly in-kind sponsors,
people who would like to organize wiki events before or during the week
of Wikimania, or artists/researchers who would like to present there),
let me know. 

Other ways you can get involved : suggest people who would enjoy the Hacking Days session for current and would-be MediaWiki hackers; or help plan other parts of the conference

Blog Day!


Today is one of 365 special days each year dedicated to broadening your view of the world.
This happens to be a day when everyone jumps on the bandwagon, and I’ve
said recently I would join all y’all for the hay-ride.  So here’s a
special post to stay in the blog day spirit of things.

There are many great blogs around the world to point you; to narrow
down the field, I’ve tried to limit myself to blogs that are inherently
multilingual, or devoted to wikis.  (Here I avoid the ones that show up in the excellent African
aggregator in the sidebar; I’ll do a separate post on developing world blogs, and plug the Bridge Blog Index, et. al.).

  • Luistxo (in Basque, et al) — discussions of technology and openness from Basque country
  • Hoder
    (in Persian & English) — all sorts of mad thoughts on society,
    technology, law or culture; especially regarding Iran.  [NB: not
    very comment-friendly  sj]
  • Meta
    (in Chinese & English) — possibly the best blog title ever. 
    many interesting political, social, and technological ideas see first
    light here
  • Jeż Węgierski (Polish mainly) — the reason I’m learning Polish. 
  • Frisco love (In all the world’s tongues.  Dubbed in English.)  Hmm, how did that get in there?
  • Work in progress (German mainly) — more about Brockhaus and encyclopedias than even I can shake a stick at
  • Wikimetrics (English mainly) — a perfect blog title.  Delightful images, research, and prose. 

London Bridges


I don’t know how human society would function without tragedy.  Is
this where so many utopian visions fail?  The drawing-together
around shared catastrophes is rooted very, very deeply. 

I like my drawings-together to be international and cleanly archived…
I’m writing up a condensed overview of what happened the other week on the
#wikinews channel, as the London bombings were progressing. 

The first comments on the bombing likely turned up on Wikipedia
itself.  Its community is enormous, and it is much easier to add a
note to a Wikipedia article than to figure out how to start a new new
story, or add a tip to the newsroom.

The first comments on IRC, which for Wikipedians (#wikipedia) is mainly a channel
for hanging out but for Wikinewsies (#wikinews) doubles as a fast-response newsroom for breaking stories,
were incisive and focused.  For the next 10 hours, that channel
was devoted to reporting and refining existing news; sharing news
reports as they came in and cross-referencing them with other sources;
griping about how unreliable certain channels were; and posting links
to first-hand photos and writeups from friends and colleagues at one of
the scenes.

By the mid-afternoon, Wikinews had a detailed primary article and a
small cluster (since grown to a large cluster) of other articles posted, covering both the London
bombings themselves and various brief satellite stories, with details
on how others were reacting, how specific lines of investigation had
progressed, which groups were claiming responsibility for what. 
The news articles were very current, and quickly dated. 

Wikipedia likewise had an extensive article about the bombings by
the end of the day,
developing in a very different, timeless fashion.  The wikinews
article had 300 edits the day it was published, then 30 the next
morning, and none thereafter.  The Wikipedia article, in contrast,
had 3000 edits the first day, 500 the next, and an edit-halflife of two
or three days after that.   Joho was quick to blog about this after I mentioned it to the Berkman mailing list.

A detailed
comparison is worthwhile; here is a copmarison of their first
paragraphs, two weeks later:

Wikinews: “Coordinated terrorist attack hits London

July 7, 2005
Three bomb explosions have hit London Underground trains, and a further bomb destroyed a bus in the city centre. The Metropolitan Police Service has initially confirmed that 33 people have been killed in the four explosions on London‘s
transport system this morning, and said the overall number of wounded
was as high as 700, in what are believed to be terrorist attacks. (See
later reports in the box at the side for later announcements made on
following days.)

Wikipedia: “7 July 2005 London bombings

For information on the 21 July explosions, see 21 July 2005 London bombings

On Thursday, 7 July 2005, a series of four bomb attacks struck London’s public transport system during the morning rush hour. At 8:50 a.m. (BST, UTC+1), three bombs exploded within fifty seconds of each other on three London Underground trains. A fourth bomb exploded on a bus at 9:47 a.m. in Tavistock Square. The bombings led to a severe, day-long disruption of the city’s transport and telecommunication infrastructure.

Both articles have around six images; the news article give a far more
thorough detail of what it was like on the day of the bombings; the
encyclopedia article is over twice as long with twice as many
references and far more historical comparison and analysis.

Amgine rocks the mike at Berkeley


Wikinews, Int’l had a spokesperson field day today, with an energetic presence at a Berkeley citizen-journalism conference in the form of one Amgine S_____. The webcast was clear, and the audience response was enthusiastic. transcript

Brockhaus freelancer suspected of plagiarizing Wikipedia article


One might say this is a case of “Man bites dog,” which would hardly be newsworthy the other way around. Wikipedia contributors plagiarize from other sources all the time; not knowing or not caring enough to properly reference their research, or engaging in wholesale copyright violation which is only caught with great effort or, worse yet, only when the original author complains.

However. Wikipedia does take every copyvio claim extremely seriously, and acts as quickly as is humanly possible to take down alleged copyvios while investigating their copyright status. With these caveats, on to the story!

I thought of various euphemistic ways to title this piece (and the contextual translations I am writing on the subject), but there’s no beating around the bush.
A freelancer for Brockhaus Online last week submitted an article on the newly-elected Pope Benedict XVI. A Wikipedian who saw the result noticed its similarity to the German Wikipedia article; comparison of the freelancer’s article (submitted April 27) with a version of the Wikipedia article from April 26 indicated that he almost certainly copied sections directly from the Wikipedia article — without acknowledging the original or complying with its license (reusers must let the readers know that some of the content they are reading is available under a free license).

Unfortunately, Brockhaus’s initial reaction was a mild “we’ll look into this,” and “we checked the submission for correctness and found it to be accurate.” Marco Krohn, a Brockhaus spokesperson, added ‘The similarity of the texts is definitely not coincidental. There are many ways to formulate a criterion which on its own could similarly exclude 100 articles about [Pope] Benedict by different authors.’ The freelancer’s initial reaction (as conveyed by Brockhaus, I believe) was to deny it and suggest that similar base references were used. This hypothesis was somewhat discredited by finding single sentences which were, in the Wikipedia article, the result of collaboration among many users; and which were repeated verbatim in the article submitted to Brockhaus.

For two days after this was discovered, Brockhaus received private feedback from Wikipedia editors about this matter; however, it was also mentioned on a public Wikipedia mailing list. A reporter took the public discussion, and without contacting any of the parties involved, published a long report on the potential scandal (much to everyone’s dismay). Finally, on Friday, Brockhaus commented that ‘mistakes had probably been made,’ and that they would talk with the author next week to clarify the matter; and they removed the controversial article from their site. (PC Welt article)

Technorati goes global


Technorati is launching a translation initiative to maintain its interface in a dozen languages. I love it 🙂 You can get involved here.

They need translators who know Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, and Russian…

Wikimania: Official Call for Papers


has issued an official call for papers
You may have
seen an earlier CfP here not long ago; the deadlines and submission
guidelines have been clarified since then.  Send abstracts;
proposals, tutorials, and workshops; and papers to
cfp(at)wikimedia.org. All work is welcome, even analyses.

Wikimania accepting papers


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…)

Wikimedia Weekly Week


A glorious old proposal about a regular Wikimedia news outlet, with
colour and good humour, is ripe for development.   We already have
an almost-quarterly newsletter, and a local project news outlet on
Wikipedia. We had 5 or 6 major cross-project news stories last week. I suppose we’d better get cracking on the WWN. Suggestions for a better name, and help submitting links and article ideas (or writing for it!), will be appreciated.

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