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The Longest Now

Tuesday September 28th 2004, 2:03 am
Filed under: %a la mod

Gotta love the goo. That’s what the SQ says, and who are we to disagree. And it’s hard to stop loving blogger, even if it’s not quite the coolest or the most indy blogging setup on the block. But aside from Atom, what is big goo doing for me these days? Why do blogs (and wp mirrors) still clog their search results? I’m sure it’s dull to wonder about such things, but I miss having access to original sources online. Even major newspapers are becoming pretty bad about this… bad information drives out good? Bad puppets? I need more coffee.

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Newsletter Found
Wednesday September 22nd 2004, 4:36 am
Filed under: popular demand

A new newsletter about the Wikimedia Foundation is out. It has all kinds of statistics about the projects, including some of the newest ones that are just starting out, and a long interview with Ward Cunningham about the evolution of the wiki concept. Sweet!

Newsletter Found …

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John Romero is on my desk
Tuesday September 21st 2004, 1:31 pm
Filed under: poetic justice

Or a protagonist that looks surprisingly like him. An old housemate left me a copy of Daikatana, in its original box… the orange color perfectly matches my title, and a certain banner-message I can think of. I haven’t opened it yet, but just having the ION STORM logo on my desk makes it seem heavier, somehow.

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Slashdot comments rule
Tuesday September 21st 2004, 12:43 pm
Filed under: popular demand

Going on about the encyclopedia that slashdot built (oh wait, that’s E2, not WP), /. produces a few gems.

On the proliferation of Wikipedia clones making Google searches useless:

And for this you blame wikipedia? That’s like blaming Led Zeppelin for the existence of Motley Crue and hair metal.

Slashdot comments rule …

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Propagation of hope
Monday September 20th 2004, 3:08 am
Filed under: %a la mod

Joi‘s blog listed a hopeful factoid, for mere minutes — that Wikipedia was among the top 10 sites on the net, not the top 10 ‘reference’ sites. In that time, someone quoted him… let’s see how far the trail spreads.

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One MILLION dollars
Sunday September 19th 2004, 9:01 pm
Filed under: metrics

Alright, not a million dollars, but ”’1,000,000”’ articles.
That’s the milestone the collected Wikipedia language projects — all 105 of them — passed this weekend. Of course there are better predictors of quality and utility, but ”man”, that’s a lot of volunteer-effort, fully searchable, advert-free, widely-translated text.

They’re having a fundraising drive this week; please contribute to it if you can. Also, don’t miss the sexy newsletter going up this week… if you can find it.

One MILLION dollars …

Words for Medium
Saturday September 18th 2004, 5:15 am
Filed under: indescribable

… English don’t got none. It’s hard to say in one word that something is middling or mediocre unless one is talking specifically about vague quality or ability. Medium-large, medium-strong, middleweight (well, maybe that’s one word), of average thickness, neither slow nor fast, of average intelligence… is this because it’s not emphatic enough to say something is middle-of-the-road? In politics it comes up so much in most any discussion that we not have ‘centrists’. But how about medium-dark, medium-fair, medium-hard, mildly interesting, somewhat obscure, “in the middle-ground”?

The question might better be rephrased as, why do we have two words for most adjectives, one at each end of a supposedly linear spectrum, rather than one word for each adjective (as in NewSpeak), or three (as with “poor, average, good”)?

Who would Jesus bomb?
Saturday September 18th 2004, 4:51 am
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory

Hopefully, whoever they are, they would appreciate the role that their suffering naturally plays in the grand scheme of things.  And would they have all the good songs?

Christina rants about using time efficiently
Saturday September 18th 2004, 4:40 am
Filed under: poetic justice

That’s the kind of ranting I like to hear. University professors beware, we’re watching how you spend your minutes… and ours. Now if only that would extend to other teachers, and other seminal professions (such as filmmakers).

Christina rants about using time efficiently …

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ex post standards of librarianship
Saturday September 18th 2004, 3:50 am
Filed under: metrics

Back in August, a now-infamous Syracuse Post-Standard article about Wikipedia centered on quotes from a local high-school librarian, one Ms. Stagnitta, who seemed to be thoroughly against the idea of Wikipedia as a reference source. A few days after the SPS article came out, some Wikipedians forwarded her a miffed response they had sent to the paper, to which she replied quickly (and with some chagrin).

It turns out she has no bone to pick with Wikipedia at all. Who knows, she may even like the site.

“I’ll probably regret saying this… this is what got me in trouble in
the first place, but… you may quote me,” she said, and I realized today while talking to a friend that her response hasn’t been quoted nearly enough. An excerpt:

I just re-read what I originally sent to Al Fasoldt in the recent Post-Standard column. I’m afraid I do have egg all over my face… The message was NOT… that Wikipedia is not an authoritative source. The message was that the best thing about the web (the sharing of information and ideas) can also make it harder for the average high school student to make a judgement call when checking the authority of a source used for research. I’m sorry if this generated controversy over the authority of the site, this is NOT what was intended. It just illustrates the problem.

So it does.

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Published in the Washington Post
Saturday September 18th 2004, 2:42 am
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory

Perhaps I should say, “published about WP in the WP”.
The Washington Post led their Business section ten days ago with an article about “Spreading Knowledge, The Wiki Way“… despite the placid title, they couldn’t resist letting Dale Hoiberg, editor-in-chief of the Britannica, get in a dig at Wikipedia’s clearly-labelled Disclaimer.

Of course Britannica, like every other large information site online, has a long page full of the many facets of its terms of use… including a disclaimer. And theirs is in ALL CAPS. Wikipedians had been joking about this for weeks, since the first jibe about our disclaimer came out. But this was in such a prominent article, it demanded a response… which the Post was nice enough to publish in today’s Saturday paper:

…I would like to bring to Mr. Hoiberg’s attention the disclaimer of warranties tucked away in Britannica Online’s terms of use. It reads in part, in all capital letters:

“ALL INFORMATION . . . INCLUDED IN OR ACCESSIBLE FROM THIS SITE [IS] PROVIDED ‘AS IS’ AND WITHOUT WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND. . . . YOUR USE OF BRITANNICA.COM IS AT YOUR SOLE RISK.” Wikipedia takes great pride in — and as much responsibility for it as is legally tenable — all of its content. Online, Britannica appears to do the same.

I’m not surprised they clipped out the “harsher and less visible” that had been modifying “disclaimer” (the WP editors have a fine grasp of NPOV), but I don’t know what to make of their rearrangement of the last paragraph… the way it was originally written was no longer, but grammatically correct. And I shouldn’t have tried so hard to verify that Hoiberg was a “Dr.”, since they dropped the title anyway. Someday I’ll figure out how to use titles in print, hopefully before I have to start writing about honoured Brits.

Published in the Washington Post …

Wiki media madness+
Saturday September 18th 2004, 2:06 am
Filed under: popular demand

This looks like the month of wiki in the media.

In addition to the recent “Britannica v. Wikipedia” debates raging around the Net these days (btw, look for my letter to the editor in tomorrow’s Washington Post on the subject, responding to their article from a couple weeks back), now there are weekly posts in the german press about and its projects.

Even the recent “article contest” on the german site, one more project in a wiki of major ones, has received its own blurb on the news site  We have yet to get to the CD release at the end of the month, which will distribute the german encyclopedia to 40,000 households (along with a bevy of other excellent free content).

And tomorrow… well, tomorrow should give a whole new meaning to the term “encyclopedic” in the media.

frassle continues to suck
Tuesday September 07th 2004, 11:48 pm
Filed under: indescribable

Once more, I tried to use frassle today.  I was hoping to exploit some of its features, but instead found myself too frustrated  to continue until I had had some tea.  Updates once I’ve settled down a little.

Okay, so I just spent an hour on Frassle, seeing how it works.  And I’m still frustrated, and I got only two useful categories out of my browsing.  But I think I know how it works…  The features that often assuage my frustration on other sites, the help pages and the search function, don’t work the way… one might expect.

The main difficulty I have is that the site doesn’t tell you what you can do with it.  You are immediately presented with three big link-tabs at the top of the screen, for an aggregator, a “publisher“, and a “weblog“.  The publisher looked interesting, but why would I use that and not my weblog?  After I got my first inexplicable red-inked error (on my second submission), I stopped trying to publish, and stuck to blogging

The second striking problem is that many features of the site and interface are subtlely dependent on your context — whose writings you’re looking at, whether they are being published or blogged, and whether they are already categorized by you in your aggregator or not.  

Finally, many tasks are not readily reversible.  Things can be added from interfaces that disallow deletion.  Things can be moved or renamed, sometimes magically, from one interface but not from another which looks almost identical.  In one particular case, unsubscribing a feed from a category could only be done by clicking on the category title and then clicking on the word “subscribed” in the resulting page… this alone took me a few minutes to figure out.

In any case, the whole categorization interface (and categorization + the long arm of cross-category matching are frassle’s calling card) is painful to use and only sporadically intuitive.  Flashier now than the last time I visited, but still painful.  And while it occasionally adds helpful mouseover text (which compensates for vague elements in the interface), that too is sporadic.

On the bright side, there seem to be a few new people streaming in to test it out (and hey, I went back :), so I have some hope that alpha 17 will start to look really neat.  I figure I should check back around Hallowe’en.


frassle continues to suck …

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