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The Longest Now

2005: Year of the Wiki
Friday December 31st 2004, 4:40 am
Filed under: international

2005 will be the year of the wiki.  And not simply because Wikimania will be Europe’s hottest event next summer. Mark my words… even if Gartner‘s coolness report doesn’t realize it yet.

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Berlin scratchpad
Thursday December 30th 2004, 8:23 am
Filed under: %a la mod

In Berlin… taxes: included.  condiments: not included. 
telephone calls, wireless access: not included.  calling card
calls from many phones: not possible. 

Berlin gender inequality:  men’s haircuts: 30% the cost of women’s
cuts.   women have their own sessions at hacker conferences,
with topics such as ‘how to get more out of being a [female hacker]
than just sex’.

Berlin ice skating: set up and taken down each day in a public square; free access.

East Berlin at night : surprisingly safe, at least on the four nights I
wandered the streets.  All neon and concrete… and a lovely river
running through it. Photographs to come.

Eating Vesper
Sunday December 26th 2004, 3:10 pm
Filed under: %a la mod

That is, the evening meal, cold sweetmeats and bread and Nutella – perhaps you know it as Brotzeit, ‘like breakfast, only in the evening’, here in the Black Forest.  Delightful… we didn’t sing Vespers beforehand, but next time I will try to remember a few suitable rousing prayers.

I tried to learn a bit of the local dialect from my hosts, but
everyone was laughing too hard when I managed a word or two.  Thomas is a perfect gentleman; I couldn’t have hoped for more from my niece’s boyfriend.

More tomorrow from Berlin…  that is, today from Berlin, after three days of fabulous conferencing
Ive been in Berlin a long time, in fact, thinking this had already been
posted.  However, it sat around for a few days first.  
My heart goes outto Manila’s excrutiatingly wrong-headed posting interface, for facilitating this brief lapse in postage.

Life, Love, and crossing over the water
Friday December 24th 2004, 7:12 pm
Filed under: indescribable

I’m posting this from newark airport.
I just did something totally foolish —
signed up for a $7/day wireless connection when
I have only 10 min before my flight.

I did this because I just realized something odd – a sequence of inexplicable events made me think, with a black flash, that if I were ever to get into an air accident, this would be the flight for it.

And I would hate to go without even a final word!  But thankfully my flash belonged to some alternate reality, and I managed a few extra words in regardless.  And now you all know more certainly than before what a wonderful mother I have. πŸ™‚

Delicious search exaltation
Friday December 24th 2004, 3:04 am
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory

This has nothing to do with, but is instead a WPsearch
update.  Kate”-” and bbc-tom combined their efforts to produce yet
masterpiece of wikitomfoolery : A honeyed search enhancement to make
your jaw drop and your lower lip quiver with excitement.  A smooth
match-as-you-type javascript confection
drops down a dynamically-changing list of page titles that begin with
what is being entered in the search box.  Then, once you’re done
searching, you get two lists of possible spelling corrections : a list
of common keywords similar to one of your search terms, and a list of
page titles with fuzzy substring matches against your search string.

All of this is handled outside of the database, by software parsing a
static copy of the relevant db content.  This can be updated
incrementally ever 10 minutes or so, providing fast, timely sarching
with minimal db load, which could easily be served from a separate

Delicious search exaltation …

WP critics deemed ‘boring’; competition for Wikinews
Thursday December 23rd 2004, 9:40 am
Filed under: %a la mod

For those of you who can’t wait for the next Quarto to come out, here is a quick rundown of some media highlights from December:

Forbes had one of their encyclopedia editors (they manage American
Heritage these days) half-heartedly compare WP to Britannica Online :
checking Haydn, Millard Fillmore, warblers, King James II.

Allen, Managing Editor of American Heritage admitted, ‘it looks as if
Wikipedia’s gotten a lot better, more thorough and more
accurate.’…Even the Wikipedia’s James II of Britain article beat
Britannica in size, reach and outside references…

(For those of you keeping score at home, it is James II of “England”,
if you please.)

Meanwhile, Tim Bray sat down and wrote a delightfully thoughtful piece
on the emerging properties of  Wikipedia.

proposition that the Wikipedia is a misguided waste of time is boring.
Something poorly-understood is happening here, and the observed results
are immensely better than intuition from first principles would
suggest. This is interesting; it seems obvious to me that there are
lessons to learn here, about reference publishing in particular and
knowledge husbandry in general.

And journalists continue to get heated up about collaborative journalism:

Mark Glaser wrote a passionate piece on the collaborative news org he
wants to work for, almost a community Wikiproject (see also his earlier notes on Wiki and journalism).  Then Mitch Ratcliffe spun a long editorial on Wikinews itself

And now some local citizen journalism enterprises are starting to take shape:
from the fully-realized Baristanet, “serving Montclair, Glen Ridge, and Bloomfield, NJ”, and the entire town of Greensboro, NC…  to Pegasus News,
“launching in Dallas in late 2005, but with a cool blog up now,” which
plans to eventually expand to “every major U.S. city with a monopoly
newspaper”… to Dan Gillmor’s “jumping out of a window, and building a
parachute in midair” departure from the SJ Merc to start his own venture that enables and illustrates the kind of grassroots journalism he has been writing about.

Finally, a question for the style gurus: is it “Wikipedia” or “the Wikipedia”?
Someone had better start thinking about this, fast. A quick score sheet from recent pubs:

– Frederick Allen, American Heritage editor  : “Wikipedia”
– Matt Rand, /Forbes/ writer : “the Wikipedia”
– Mitch Ratcliffe, veteran journalist : “Wikipedia”
– Robert McHenry, Former /Britannica/ editor  : [unintelligible]
– Tim Bray, Encyclophile : “the Wikipedia”
– Val Souza, Express Computer columnist, India : “the Wikipedia”
– Dr. ‘Alfaso’ Gizmo, semi-anonymous journalist : [frothing, unintelligible]
– Wired Magazine, various writers : “Wikipedia”

Berkman Center homepage bites the dust
Tuesday December 21st 2004, 5:07 pm
Filed under: indescribable

One of the FAQ on the Berkman site is “How do I find out about upcoming events?“.  The answer seems straightforward enough:

We invite you to visit our “Upcoming Events” box on the Berkman home page.  You may also wish to subscribe to our electronic newsletter, The Filter.

Of course the ‘upcoming events’ box contains one random selection from
the coming year and one event which has already passed, and The Filter, while it seems at some point to have been published more than once a year, is stuck on the edition from April 19, 2004.

Now as it so happens, I know there is an interesting-sounding two-day conference on Blogging, Journalism, and How We Can Trust Them Sneaky Citizen Journalists With Our Mindshare
And I know it takes place Jan 21-22 at the Center.  But the only
information about it anywhere online, apparently, is on the personal
travel schedule of a friend of mine. How annoying.  Perhaps I
should let the webmaster know…

Berkman Center homepage bites the dust …

Our James II is Bigger than their James II
Sunday December 19th 2004, 12:12 am
Filed under: %a la mod

Wikipedia surpasses Britannica observes Forbes
magazine after asking American Heritage managing editor
Frederick Allen to inspect some ‘pedias. 

Even the
Wikipedia’s James II of Britain article beat Britannica in size, reach
and outside references.

Choosing between “the Wikipedia” or “Wikipedia” as the referent of
choice is a matter in on which the Wiki style mavens have yet to weigh.

Our James II is Bigger than their James II …

Completing the Wikarchy
Saturday December 18th 2004, 2:28 am
Filed under: %a la mod

Speaking of remiss, I’ve long been remiss for not writing about Wikinews, and how it works for or against my own interests in a press corps and clippings service that make use of this hyar new-fangled Whee-Quay technology.

The current wikinews project :
1) doesn’t take itself seriously enough to center itself on a grand vision, creating something for the ages, and
2) continues to focus on individual ego and interest rather than a notion of completeness as applies to news, but
3) picks up a definite pocket of interest that was stymied by having no real outlet in other wikimedia projects.

“…news content about
every newsworthy person, place, movement, and event, covering dated
news from the past (fit into a timeline), fresh news from the present
(qualified by how well and by how many indep sources it could be
verified), and spotty news from/about the near future (qualified by the
quality of leaking sources, idenfitied with related events in the past,
and cross-referenced with [statistics from] a predictions registry)…”

Now you’re talking.

Completing the Wikarchy …

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Wixonomy and Wikispecies
Saturday December 18th 2004, 1:43 am
Filed under: %a la mod

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that there is now a little Feedster-enabled wikik-taxonomy tool called Wixonomy.  It’s creator, Shimon, is sussing out how to coordinate large-scale public taxonomy creation.  Certain librarians seem awful excited about this.

Of course it reminds me of Wikispecies, the slowly-growing species taxonomy project associated with the world’s phattest encyclopedia
Does Wikispecies need something like Wixonomy?  Is it possible to
duplicate the same effects using something as simple as Categories in MediaWiki 1.4?

Wixonomy and Wikispecies …

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Unite, Voices of the World!
Friday December 17th 2004, 11:25 pm
Filed under: international

My new UVW! campaign starts
tonight.  Everyone who volunteers time to communicate to the rest
of the world, not merely to let their friends know about their personal
lives, or to impress everyone with the skill of their photoshop
manipulations, should at least take a peek at the GV project and see
which of their private dreams they can project onto it.

The last time I saw such a grand idea for collective interaction, it
had the flavour of one particular group trying to stamp its impressum
on the democracy of the ether.  This time, for once, it’s just a
group of people, y’know?  Of at least two genders, five major world religions, seven languages, and a dozen professions. 

See, firstly, the cleaned transcript
of the Manifesto session from last weekend’s Internet and Society
conference.  Then see the recent product of that session : the Global Voices Wiki, complete with a draft manifesto

Secondly, scour the blogosphere to see what people are saying about this new endeavour.  It’s not different from previous efforts to unite bloggers in common cause, exactly, just another persistent step along the path towards cohesive greatness.

Unite, Voices of the World! …

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Thursday December 16th 2004, 1:06 am
Filed under: %a la mod

From the void:

wikipedia is entirely a product of the Bush presidency
it began under him
it will transform under him.

It will continue after him?

yes, but by then it will no longer be ‘wikipedia’ πŸ™‚

I don’t think that will be the word, the meme, the name people associate with the movement in four years.

(sj adds “naming” to the list of crucial fields and skills not currently taught or structured)

wikimotion …

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Berkman conference transcripts
Saturday December 11th 2004, 1:19 pm
Filed under: %a la mod

In the spirit of some recent posts, and in the mood of Mavis Beacon, I am transcribing the Global Voices Online session of today’s Internet and Society 2004
conference. If you want to see the unedited results in real time, I am
typing it up on IRC in the #harvardbitstrans channel. If you remote
readers have questions for the speakers, send me IRC messages (not in the transcription channel, please) and I will try to ask the question for you.

With a little lag, I am also posting the results here, one session to its own story. So far today:

11:00 – 12:30 : How to Build a Blogosphere

Hoder, Isaac,
and Ory discuss blogging in Persia, China, and Kenya; censorship; and
encouraging fledgling blog communities around national identity. Sorry,
Jeff Ooi and Malay blogging couldn’t take part in the discussion.

12:30 – 2:00 : Podcasting

transcribed the podcasting talk. Tony Kahn of WBUR moderated a
discussion about the new technology, its growth in recent months, and
future trends.

2:00 – 3:30 : Tools

Ethan and Kwin Kramer lead a discussion and presentation of tools for blogging and bloggers; hopefully featuring a discussion of the new Arabic Blog Tool

4:00 – 5:30 : Global Voices Manifesto

Joi and Jim Moore lead the room in developing a manifesto for improving and expanding the blogosphere

Dinner will not be taped. It will not be podcast, webcast, or broadcast. It will not be blogged… much. Dinner
will not have its own Wikipedia entry. It will not be transcribed on
Eye-Arr-See. Friends and bloggers, ladies and infogeeks, dinner will be

The Dust of Time
Saturday December 11th 2004, 6:21 am
Filed under: null

Two men came to repair my kitchen ceiling yesterday morning. 
Second time in three years that ceiling had to be fixed.  Last
time it was a professional, three-day job.  This time it was a
hack job, two days of patchwork followed
by a week of half-finished ceiling and another day of patchwork. 
Now the ceiling looks like a failed home-deco experiment, with seams
where the repair took place, but you have to look twice to notice.

These men were two of the laziest people I have ever met in the confines of a city
They moved slowly, came to decisions slowly, talked slowly except when
yelling at high volume (and even then the process of argument was slow,
only the words were staccato and fast).  Their tools never worked, and they had to leave on two occasions to buy replacements from a hardware store three miles away.

They also had no common sense, so perhaps retiring to the countryside
wouldn’t solve all of their problems.  They started work with a
tiny tarp and no ventilation… and began to sand.  No wait, they
opened the basement door for ventilation.  They turned on a fan
while sanding (“to blow the dust towards the wall”), and got a fine
layer of plaster-dust all over the room and the one next to it before I
stopped them. 

Meanwhile, a friend’s apartment complex in central square burned terribly,
damaging many of his things..  I remember the last time there was
a big fire in that part of town in an apartment complex…  it was
just across the road from Upton St where I was living, and I happened
to miss it by being out of town.

How easy it would be to lose everything.  I think of the hundreds
of years of labour put into building beautiful monuments, opulent
houses, glorious fortifications, which were later targeted not even for
theft and recycling, but for destruction,
because of their quality.  And of the millions of years put into
building beautiful biomes, life-forms, other crystallizations of order, which are inevitably disintegrated, wiped out, crushed into the simple chaos of their component parts.

Our world is built on such layers of dust.

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Bits, Bytes, and Politibots
Friday December 10th 2004, 10:43 am
Filed under: popular demand

I’m at the Berkman conf for Internet and Society today, and mmm, is it
a mixed crowd.  Geeks, politicians, students and faculty of all
stripes.  I have to run out again, so can’t stay for much of the
Biz lecture, but I’m sure a lot of people will be blogging it today.

There was, however, a distinct shortage of people live-transcribing
what was going on, either on irc or elsewhere.  I have yet to see
a blog with more than just a passing quote… which is a real
shame.  We should not let the luxury of having the bandwidth for audio and video feeds (note that they still fuzz out, break, drag on and on) preclude traditional, highly transferable and searchable, methods of archiving.  It’s like the pending archival doom of the digital age, redoubled upon itself.

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Happy Hanukkah! and new transcripts
Wednesday December 08th 2004, 1:27 am
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory

To all… and to all a good night πŸ™‚  Note the updated
for the sessions below.  Sorry it took so long to get
the last two sessions up there.  Cleaned transcripts will be
available at the end of the weekend.

Happy Hanukkah! and new transcripts …

Secret Chain-letter magic
Monday December 06th 2004, 9:43 pm
Filed under: indescribable

A site promoting secret knowledge that will Make You Rich, using clever image placement, chain-letter marketing, and other tools to carry its points across, that manages to do so in a tastefully tacky way — this would normally merit a quick post.  In this case, the secret happens to be “RSS feeds”, which makes it doubly interesting. 

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