Archive for collaboration

We are intelligent because we are social

Posted in WikiWay with tags , , , , on June 22, 2008 by Pete Forsyth

I submitted a couple talks to this month’s Ignite Portland event. This is a really cool series of events — basically, a bunch of people are chosen to give 5-minute presentations, accompanied by a slideshow, on any topic of their choosing. The topics vary widely, with topics like origami, how to buy a used car, and an excellent crash course in nuclear physics.

Thankfully, I wasn’t selected this time — what with the Oregon Revised Statutes issue I got embroiled in, I don’t know where I would have found the time to get a presentation prepared!

So I got to attend as an audience member, which was much more my speed. Here’s my favorite of the 5-minute presentations I saw, by Jenny Andrews:


How to write a Wikipedia article

Posted in Wikipedia, WikiWay with tags , , , on June 12, 2008 by Pete Forsyth

I just posted some suggestions for getting started on writing a Wikipedia article, on the WikiProject Oregon blog. Check it out!

Free time: from sitcoms to building the web

Posted in open government, Wikipedia, WikiWay with tags , on June 3, 2008 by Pete Forsyth

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.

The conservative take on Wikipedia

Posted in politics, Reviews, Wikipedia, WikiWay with tags , , , , on May 29, 2008 by Pete Forsyth

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.

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Review: An interview with David Shankbone

Posted in Reviews, WikiWay with tags , on April 12, 2008 by Pete Forsyth

Some of my friends are continually baffled by the time and energy I put into writing and editing for Wikipedia and similar projects. My friend David Shankbone, whom I’ve known about a year through our Wikipedia work, was recently interviewed for The Brooklyn Rail, and expressed a number of views that more or less reflect my own.

In addition to editing Wikipedia, David is a prolific photographer, who essentially gives his photos to the public with no strings attached. These include photos of politicians (Shimon Peres, Charles Schumer, Ron Wyden, Ralph Nader), celebrities (Stephen Colbert, Susan Sarandon, Drew Barrymore), and many others.

He is also an accredited reporter for Wikinews, for which he has interviewed Presidential candidates, novelists, and the president of the ACLU.

David’s approach to his work takes him in directions different from my own, and I always enjoy seeing what he’s up to. He is more apt to get involved in disputes about policy, content, etc. than me, which is important but often tiring and thankless work. A few quotes from the interview:

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Encyclopediae proliferate!

Posted in WikiWay with tags , , , on April 9, 2008 by Pete Forsyth

Earlier this year, Portland State University’s history department and the Oregon Historical Society announced the Oregon Encyclopedia, which will coincide with Oregon’s 150th anniversary. The project aims to document what is unique about Oregon, drawing on a wide variety of contributors, and implementing a rigorous peer review model that will ensure its accuracy.

Sound familiar?

We at Wikiproject Oregon thought so.

WikiProject Oregon's article count in the last yearWikiProject Oregon is a loose affiliation of Wikipedia editors who like to focus on Oregon-related articles. There are lots of these projects, but in Oregon we have an especially effective cast of characters, and the last year’s improvements have been impressive. (Get a taste at Wikipedia’s Oregon portal, which offers a rotating selection of the site’s best Oregon-related content.)

We suspected that the Oregon Encyclopedia folks might not be aware of how much good content Wikipedia has to offer, or of the vibrant community that’s developed there.

So we made some calls and sent some emails. Turned out they are very interested in what we’re up to. So this Friday, three of us from WikiProject Oregon (myself, VanTucky, and Cacophony) will be meeting with the Oregon Encyclopedia’s editorial team, to show them what we’ve got – the technology, the community, and of course the “never-quite-final” product – and, hopefully, to set the stage for some collaborative efforts between our projects.

Wish us luck, and watch for a report after our presentation!