The Longest Now


Global card catalog
Saturday February 12th 2005, 11:51 pm
Filed under: metrics

There are a few projects afoot which combined should make for a fine global citations database and card catalog substitute.  First, the pilot Wikicite project on the English edition of Wikipedia (see also its abstract specification and growing list of feature requests).   Then there are various partial implementations of a simple strutured-data specification called Wikidata; see for instance the similar templates for biographical data on de.wikipedia, and for news-source citations on wikinews.) 


And finally, there are projects by the LOC and modern library associations to do away with traditional card catalogs, and provide better interfaces for referencing texts.  Sadly, in direct contradiction of the Laws of NatureTM, I know least about the last set of projects, though they have been around the longest now, and have the most proponents/contributors… perhaps we can start a small discussion here about how these projects could interrelate.



Googlicious Wikipedal Fun
Saturday February 12th 2005, 7:37 am
Filed under: popular demand

Slashdot has a story about it.  The New York Times (NYT article, 2/11) wrote about it.  Blogs and IRC chans are buzzing about it.  Meta even has a page about it, one out of only 3,000.   What’s this all about?  Google has offered Wikimedia
some hosting.  People seem to think this is the first hosting
donation (it’s not), or the only such offer in the pipeline (there are
at least 3 others), or that only the few and the proud can offer
hosting at all (anyone with a small colo facility and goodwill can do
the same).

Just to clear things up a little, here is an overview of Wikimedia partners and hosts.  And a separate page where anyone can offer to host Wikimedia content.   There are already a handful of good static mirrors, a center in
Paris donating  machines and hosting (handling requests from the
UK and northern Europe), and a hosting deal being worked out with an educational group
in the Netherlands.  Google is just more exciting because they’re
so damn cool, and because they can move quickly if something is worked
out (in contrast, the Paris arrangement spent almost half a year in
limbo between the acceptance of their offer and the first transfer of
traffic to the new location).

See also presroi’s thoughts on the matter.



World-wide gathering
Thursday February 10th 2005, 10:52 am
Filed under: %a la mod

There is a meeting of the minds, cultures, and spirits this Sunday evening at 6pm in Harvard Square.  Local Wikipedians, local bloggers, and grassroots Bridge Builders brought into town for a week by a special project of Harvard’s young Center for International Development (CID).

What: Dinner and discussion, perhaps good music
Where: Smile Thai Cafe,
on Eliot St. in Harvard Square.  Check the menu listed on their
website.  Call me (6 1 7 | 529×4266) or the cafe (6 1 7 |
497-8288) to coordinate.  (I wanted to go to Veggie Planet but they don’t have enough seating)
Who :   A mix of 20-25 wikipedians, bloggers, grassroots organizers… and you!  Call / email an RSVP.
When: Sunday, Feb 13, 18:00 EST  / 23:00 UTC
Why? For extra bonus karma.



Veggie Planet!
Thursday February 10th 2005, 4:38 am
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory

I want to let everyone know about this fabulous restaurant tucked away in Harvard Square; community-oriented, vegan-friendly,
and moughty tasty.  It’s not one I visit very often, just because
its location keeps it out of my normal speed-walking through the
square, but I’m headed there soon.  Ill try to give you thorough
details on some of their cuisine, and how they handle a large crowd

Veggie Planet! …



Smile Thai!
Thursday February 10th 2005, 4:36 am
Filed under: %a la mod

No, that’s not a command, it’s the name of the restaurant where dinner on Sunday (tomorrow) will be held.  We have a reservation for 20; keep sending rsvp’s in case I have to expand it; and let me know if you want them to make something special (for a group?) ahead of time.  They asked twice ^ ^ .


Another vegan-friendly place in the Square, run by the owner of Spice, which is not to be confused with 7 Tastes (or is it 7 Taste?). So many lovely places around that I haven’t been too very often!  It’s amazing, what with all the little buildings and stores that one can cram into a tight urban area like Harvard Square, that there are so few parking garages…

Smile Thai! …



Cyber dolls not taking over yet
Wednesday February 09th 2005, 1:42 pm
Filed under: popular demand

Just reading an old prediction by Nick Negroponte, the savant and seer currently pushing forward a $100 laptop initiative
A fascinating read, about how he was sure the most active users of the
internet today would be appliances and gadgets and toys… also a
reminder that as a society of thinking creatures, we’re far from the
centered and peaceful self-awarenesss that would lead to sober
predictions about the future.  Danger, Will Robinson…

For instance: if you really want to make $100 machines for the world,
design systems with easily-separable, interchangable parts.  Don’t
rely on your own vision of a hundred million machines to provide
spares for people; assume they will have their own spares.  You
don’t have to make ‘laptops’ with catch closures on the monitors (which
break) and monitors tightly integrated with the body (with hinges that
break) and embedded keyboards (which get crumbs in them and eventually
need to be replaced).  There’s nothing magical, or even
attractive, about the standard modern image of a Lap-Top
computer.  Just make the whole collection small and light, make it
fit into a cloth bag, and make it easy for people to get by with the
most prevalent spare parts.

Cyber dolls not taking over yet …



Communicating through a sieve
Monday February 07th 2005, 5:13 am
Filed under: %a la mod

It’s easy to discuss communication as though it were an external
service, provided by tools and channels outside ourselves.  But
most communication successes and failures depend on memory,
self-control, rhetorical skill, confidence… all traits which, though they
project through different media with different fidelities, begin with the mind.

For now, let me take a stab at memory.  Those of you with  perfect or near-perfect recall,
pitch, or face-name association, help me out when I falter. 

Memory acts in bizarre ways.  It is wholly unreliable at times,
yet we depend on it for safety, continuity, and sanity
(Well, sometimes
I am certain that we depend on the combination of memory with some
external feedback loop with the rest of the world.)  At times it
is not there on demand, and at other times it comes to you unbidden.

When I was a toddler, my parents once asked me what I wanted to drink,
and I replied “a martini“.  This amused them for months.  They rarely drank, hated martinis, and couldn’t imagine where I
had heard the word.  I can’t imagine either, but I bet I
heard it exactly once (while my father was communing over his daily
crossword puzzle, perhaps?) and part of my mind happened to think of it
then.  What I am pretty sure of, is that the word popped naturally to mind.  And I’d also bet I had hundreds of
opportunities to answer similar questions, before such a question and
such a random memory came together.

Tonight, while minding my own business in the kitchen, that same part
of my mind said, butting into a quiet train of thought about what to do
with my noodles, “parenchyma“.  Hmm, I thought, what a funny thought to have.  But there it was, lingering in my mind’s rear-view mirror.  “parenchyma“.  (read on…)



Local New Englanders Make Good Again
Monday February 07th 2005, 4:53 am
Filed under: %a la mod

with one hand tied behind our backs, tooPatrick Ohiomoba
wins a prize for predicting the final score with great confidence at the
midpoint of the 2d inning… but lost 3 (three) French dinners by not
putting his stomach where his mouth was.  (Thanks for the fine outlay, JT and DA… and thanks to Beauty’s for the provender).

Local New Englanders Make Good Again …



Wikipedia’s article
Sunday February 06th 2005, 7:19 am
Filed under: %a la mod

What began as a friendly correction to a few friends — blogged by JOHO to his world-renowned water cooler
— has turned into a battle for the very soul of the articleless
pastiche.  Don’t fret; I won’t give up fighting the good fight, on
The Longest Now or The anything else’s turf, as long as there is breath
left in me.  Once more, for the record: 

Wikipedia takes no article. Neither does Wikimedia, Mediawiki, or kerfuffle.
EB
, OED, and ACS all may and often do
because when you expand their acronyms or full names, you find a common
noun within that proper noun which itself would normally take an
article. 

TYVM.

Wikipedia’s article …



Wikinews and Blogs
Saturday February 05th 2005, 7:06 pm
Filed under: %a la mod

Wikinews had a dense and lovely chat about blogging tonight.  In attendance were Brendan, Carl, j, and M, Joi, RMack, jwales, Angela, Susan Crawford,  et al.

You can check out the running IRC log (2) or see what other bloggers are saying:

Joi  |  Jwales  | Angela

There’s something about overlapping IRC chats that is conducive
to later consideration… to relish their flavor.  In this case,
the flavor was largely of participants explaining the project, and
later on of techies discussing options for feedback loops.  The
best part was after ado showed up and we started talking speed of
implementation, and who could most easily do it.  Props to
autrijius tang, who’s already set up a trackback –> mediawiki interface.

Wikinews and Blogs …



The Gazette on WebCred
Thursday February 03rd 2005, 8:22 pm
Filed under: %a la mod

The Harvard University Gazette even covered the WebCred conference and shares highlights with vague photos of shady characters.

Is that Dave Winer in the background?

The Gazette on WebCred …




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