Icicle sent me this one. I think it explains pretty succinctly why I often stay away from the policy debates and other navelgazing aspects of the ‘pedia. Oh, and if that Santa Claus thing offends you? I blame Shankbone. That’s right, he’s the one who ruined Santa Claus.
Archive for the Wikipedia Category
It seems to me that the most exciting new form of communication is “open messaging.” (If somebody’s coined a better term, let me know.) I’m talking about messages and notes that are directed at a specific person, but are posted publicly, inviting input from anyone else who might be interested.
- A wiki “user page”: This is a page associated with a certain member of a wiki community, but (usually) viewable and editable by anyone. People can be contacted without disclosing any personal information; and the public nature of discussions enhances collaboration. This works really well on Wikipedia, where editors working closely together often chime in on one another’s projects.
- A MySpace “comment”: Often used for comments like “happy birthday” or “sorry your cat died.” It’s a nice way to keep up to date on what’s going on in your friends’ lives.
- The Facebook “wall”: essentially the same thing as a MySpace comment.
- Twitter messages directed “@” somebody: This is distinct from a “direct message,” which is private. If I type “@BobSamplename Have a nice hike!” it will be visible to Bob, but to anyone else, as well. If I type “d BobSamplename Sorry to hear about the genital warts”, nobody else sees it (oops.) Having the easy choice between public and private is very convenient. Read more »
Last week, I wrote a blog post about the Oregon Legislative Counsel Committee asserting copyright over the Oregon Revised Statutes. Well, we got them to change their mind! Read all about it on the WikiProject Oregon blog.
I just posted some suggestions for getting started on writing a Wikipedia article, on the WikiProject Oregon blog. Check it out!
A couple little stories from this video clip got lots of coverage, but the whole thing is a great summary of the societal transformation we’re currently experiencing. The short stories: this Wikipedia advocate, Clay Shirky, took umbrage when a TV reporter asked him “where do people find the time to edit Wikipedia?” And the other one, a story about his friend’s 4 year old daughter looking for the “mouse” so that she could make the TV show she was watching become more interesting.
The stories are cute, but the full video is epiphanic. It made me think about all this stuff in whole new ways. It’s a little long by web standards, but totally worth the time.
A couple months ago John Miller, a reporter for the conservative publication The National Review, contacted me for an interview about Wikipedia. I had previously encountered a few Wikipedia editors who seemed keen on advancing their political views, so I welcomed the opportunity to discuss the intersection of political agendas and Wikipedia editing.
John had done his homework before our conversation, and had some interesting questions. The central foundation for his story was the opinion of many conservatives that Wikipedia articles, in general, have a liberal bias.
To illustrate the point, John brought up the articles on David Vitter (a “conservative” U.S. Senator accused of soliciting prostitutes) and Eliot Spitzer (New York’s “liberal” former governor, accused of the same). (Note: linked articles are the old revisions that were current at the time of our interview.) John pointed out that the prostitution scandal was mentioned in the first paragraph on the Vitter article, but that Spitzer’s scandal was buried several paragraphs deep.
(video: a humorous take on political bias on Wikipedia)
I wasn’t familiar with those specific articles (although I’d done a little work on Vitter’s a while back). I took a look, and immediately recognized that the articles were simply at two different stages in their natural evolution.
A friend sent me this video. (Strangely, Wired does not seem to have figured out how to make their videos embeddable on WordPress!)
The basic premise of this 3 minute presentation: Lewis Strauss once predicted that nuclear technology would make electricity so inexpensive that it wouldn’t be worth charging for it. He was wrong, but today, we’re seeing other resources become that cheap: bandwidth, digital storage, processing power. Successful companies like Google and Yahoo offer all their products for free. What is this strange new economy we’re moving toward?
I’m very excited to announce that WikiProject Oregon, a loose collection of Wikipedia volunteers who share an interest in Oregon, has just started its own blog: wikiprojectoregon.wordpress.com.
Our first post gives some background and advice on how to publish a photo on Wikipedia; future topics may
include highlighting some of the better articles and photos about Oregon, sharing techniques for researching Oregon history, and calls for help in areas that aren’t covered too well yet.
I hope you’ll check it out — at least those of you in Oregon!
(Please post any comments in the first thread over there.)
I’m just back from RecentChangesCamp 2008, a conference and networking event for people who work with wiki software and communities. When you get a bunch of smart people together, you get new ideas; this post will be the first of several exploring the ideas I came away with. -Pete
In a democratic society, it seems natural that decision makers should be forthcoming about who they are, so that the society as a whole can draw its own conclusions about their motivations, possible conflicts of interest, and general suitability for decision-making. We see this value reflected in laws about public service; for example, a recent extension of Oregon’s ethics laws (SB 10 of 2007) has attracted a great deal of attention. Public officials — even volunteers — are expected to disclose not only their names, but often their business affiliations and other personal information, to the public whose lives they stand to impact.
In many public forums, though, anonymity is commonplace. Talk radio callers, bloggers and blog commenters, and contributors to projects like Wikipedia are often completely anonymous; or, if they disclose any information about themselves, it often can’t be verified.
Josh was concerned about the views expressed here and elsewhere, that his company was violating either the law or ethical principles in the way it republishes Wikipedia content. I was impressed with his desire to meet the concerns head-on, and express the measures he’s taken to ensure he’s complying with the law and respecting the Wikipedia community.
However, my concerns about the company’s practices remain.
Josh made several points worth exploring: