You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.

The Longest Now

Celebrity Deathmatch: Sendak v. Colbert, Part 2
Saturday January 28th 2012, 10:19 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,Blogroll,chain-gang,Glory, glory, glory

See also Part 1 … and Part 3.

Act 2

Colbert: What do you think of the current state 
of children's lit?
 Sendak:  Abysmal.
Colbert: There's so much of it though!
 Sendak:  That's what makes it abysmal.

Let's talk about some of your competition.  
Give me your reviews.

Green Eggs and Ham?
Good. Green Eggs And Ham, "Good".
  Everything by Seuss is good.

Give A Mouse A Cookie.
I'm with you on that one.  Cause, 
you shouldn't give a mouse a cookie, 
Mouse should *earn* the cookie.
  You should open the door and say 
  'get the hell out of my house!'
The mouse should be exterminated. 
I'm with you on that one.

Curious George?
Curious George, ok.  
I don't believe in monkeys in the house either.
  You don't like it?
No, no.  they throw their feces.
  They do, they do throw--
Monkeys bite your jaw off, they will bite your face off
  He wouldn't have done that.
No, no, but he could have at any moment.
So have I changed your mind on Curious George?
So you're in favor of children 
getting their faces bitten off.
   I'm in favor of --
ok, you- you've made it clear.

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?  you know that one?
  Isn't that an adult novel?
That's kind of prejudiced of you, to say that a book 
has to be adult, or a book has to be child.
Someone who's been so ghettoized in their work, would say 
that a child couldn't read a book about murder 
and sadomasochism...
  You trapped me!  you trapped me!  
Checkmate, sir.  Check...
  You're wrong, but you trapped me.
Am i? Am i? 
Oh, so other people can be pigeon-holed, but 
you can't do that to Maurice Sendak.  That's a crime.
  How about that!
H'm!, interesting.
  Don't I deserve that?
Double-standard much, Mo?

Let's shift gears.  Every celebrity is out there 
cashing in on children's books.  
And I want in.   
What does it take for a celebrity to make 
a successful book?  What do I gotta do?
  Well, you've started already by being... an idiot.  
  That is already the very first demand.  
Ok, idiot.  
  First is idiot.
How do you spell that?
  After that, you know the formula.
You just need, like an animal, and... 
something they've lost.
  Well yes, I mean most books for children are very bad.
The Squirrel Lost Its Mittens.
  There you go.
The Buffalo... Lost Its Gun.
  You've just written two children's books!

I've got a story. can I read it to you!
  (winces in pain)  
  Do you *really* have to?
It's called "I am a Pole, and So Can You!"
  Ok, yes! I can't wait to hear it.

== [Colbert reads] ==

I am a pole, that much is clear to me.
But just what type of pole could I possibly be?
I tried to be a pole for vaulting, 
but I couldn't seem to bend.
I would love to be a ski pole, 
but for that I'd need a friend.

I wished I was the North Pole, 
and marked the home of Santa,
Or even just a Gallup Poll calling voters in Atlanta.
I considered fireman's and fishing,
Was a totem for some time.

And even tried to be a stripper pole, 
but I couldn't stand the grime.
But then one day, in my depths of despair, 
Some scouts brought me Old Glory as something to wear.
And while she danced and she waved,
It became clear to me, 
I am the best kind of pole you can possibly be.
I am an American Flag pole.

Now pledge allegiance, or else.

What do you think?
  The sad thing is, I like it!
Can I get that as a blurb?  
  Oh, absolutely!
"The sad thing is I like it..."
  The sad thing is I like it.
"...  --Maurice Sendak."
  That's a good blurb!

  And all you need to do is get a popular illustrator 
  who has a horrible sene of design, no taste for type
  nothing about the aesthetics for 
  what a picture book could look like,
  and you will probably make a lot of money.

Will you teach me how to draw?
Well that is a lovely offer, I accept.
== Cut to Sendak's studio ==

So this is where you do all your work?
  Yeah, I'm afraid so.
Well I'm trying to figure out how to draw a pole.  
I'm not very good at drawing.
Let me draw a pole here...
You ever uh, sniff your marker?  
  No... is that good?  a good thing?
It's a cheap high.  be careful...
  It does, it does!
Go ahead, go ahead.  
I assume you were huffing these things 
when you drew Where The Wild Things Are
  "I remember Pearl Harbor... 
  ta da da da da da da... ya da da da, ya da da da, 
  Ya Da DA DA DA DA DA!"
See how great these markers are?  no really.
  That pulled the song right out of me, 
  right out of my nose!

I got a mountain, got some
and half a sun...
You drew a Polish woman with a pole!  
  Holding a pole
Pole with a pole.  She could be a Polish stripper.
  That's right

Any advice, any advice here?
  No... just, I would leave it alone, because it has 
  a kind of delicacy, and irrationality, and, and... 
  terrible quality of -- ordinariness.
"Terribly ordinary!" - Maurice Sendak
That's another great blurb!  
  Supremely ordinary!

Well, Moishe... I think with my fantastic book idea, 
my words, my drawings and your blurb, 
I think we've got a hit here.
  I've- I know we do. 
Thank you, sir.

== Colbert recaps ==
Folks, once I get a publisher, 
will be available in bookstores everywhere!
In hardcover, paperback, maybe even in ebook.  
what do you say about that, Maurice?

[Flashback to earlier interview]
  Fuck them is what I say!  
  I hate those ebooks.  
  They *cannot* be the future.  
  They may well be, I will be dead, I won't give a shit!

Comments Off on Celebrity Deathmatch: Sendak v. Colbert, Part 2

Celebrity Deathmatch: Sendak v. Colbert, Part 1
Thursday January 26th 2012, 7:51 pm
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory,indescribable,Uncategorized

This is a transcript… of Stephen Colbert’s interview with Maurice Sendak, from the Colbert Show in 2012.

It is the best Kid Lit Interview. Ever. And perhaps the best Colbert interview, too. Update: see also Part 2 and Part 3.

Grim Colberty Tales w Maurice Sendak

Act 1

Colbert: Mr. Sendak, thank you so much 
for talking with me today.
 Sendak:  It's a pleasure.
Colbert: Now, tell me about children's literature.  
Don't you think that by writing books for children, 
you are sending children the message that reading is important?
 Sendak:  Very much so.  yes. 

Let's talk about kids.  I don't trust 'em. 
  Is that true?
They are just biding their time until we're gone, 
and then they get our stuff.
  That's really good.
And they take our place.
  Uh-huh, that's an interesting point of view... 
Thank you.
  ...but not interesting to me, particularly.
  There is something in this country that is so opposed  
  to understanding the complexity of children, 
  it's quite amazing.
What do you mean 'the complexity of children'? 
because children have it easy, they get driven everyplace
we feed them, we dress them.
Newt Gingrich said it: children don't have a work ethic.
  But Newt Gingrich is an idiot.  
  Of great renown, I'll give him that.  
He's a historian, you know.
  Yes but there is something 
  so hopelessly gross and vile about him, 
  that it's hard to take him seriously. 
  so let's not take him seriously.
well let's agree to disagree.

Why write for children?
  I don't. write. for children.  
You don't?
  No.  I write.  and somebody says, "that's for children!"
  I didn't set out to make children happy, 
  or to make life better for them, or easier for them.
Do you like them?
  I like them as few and far between as I do adults.  
  Maybe a bit more, since I really don't like adults, 
  at all, practically.
Let me just get that down.  
Maurice Sendak: "Children: Eh."
Alright, didn't know that.

New topic: book signings.  
Really?  You must have groupies.
  Yes, you do -- but they don't mean anything!
Hot young moms coming up to you?  right?  
Where the wild MILFs are?
  That would not affect me because I am a gay man.
Sorry, what?
  I said, "That would not affect me because I am a gay man."
I think, I'm sorry, I must be mishearing you,  
I think you just said you were a gay man.
Ok... Why are you allowed to write children's books?  
   Why not?
You aren't allowed to head boy scout troops.
  I wouldn't dream of wanting to.
But... What does a gay man care about children?  
  They're people, they're people...
Gay men can't have children.
  Of course they can!
No they can't.  Do you know how it works?
  They're capable...
Sir, excuse me.  you are completely misguided 
if you think that gay men--
  You *can* do that!
I'm sure you've put some effort into it.  
But it will not work, sir!

Let's go on to a new subject.
  Why not.
You've expressed frustration in the media sometimes that 
all they ever want to talk about
is Where The Wild Things Are.
let's talk about Where The Wild Things Are.
  (winces in pain)

Why not do a sequel to this?  It's a natural.
  Because it is the most boring idea imaginable!
"Where the Wild Things Are 2: Still Wildin'!... 
featuring Vin Diesel"
  Who's Vin Diesel?
Oh, he's incredible.  Have you seen Fast and Furious? 
or... Too Fast Too Furious? 
  I don't go to the movies.  
We do this book, we get a tie in 
with Burger King or Taco Bell,
it comes with a Where the Wild Things Are snack pack...
  It is so bad, that it not only will sell, 
  it will make pots and pots of money for you.
Can I get the blessing of your estate?
(to the cameraman) You've got that on tape?  
  But it's got to be as bad as that looks like it is.
Well listen, let's let the public judge 
whether it's bad, by whether they buy it.  
Believe in the free market?
Ok, well I can't help you there.

By the way, in Where the Wild Things Are, 
"the wild rumpus": is that... is that...
  It can be!
Is rumpus... sex?
"the wild rumpus begin"?
  Yes!  the whole bed going up and down, yes
  The mother screaming, the father saying "shut up"
You know -- making love.
  Making love.  And being happy. 

Let's talk about In the Night Kitchen 
for a second.  can we?
This one gets banned all over the place. You know why.
  He's got a dick.
He's got a tallywhacker, okay?
  A tallywhacker?  I never heard that.
Oh yeah, yeah.  a johnson.  
  A johnson?
A johnson, you never hear of johnson?  
A schvantz.  
  (nods in recognition)  

You've got kiddy schvantz in your book.  
Why are you printing a smutty book?
  Because... he's a boy.
Yeah, yeah.  But you don't have to rub it in our face. 
Why... Boys wear pants.
  Not when they're dreaming...!
  Have you never had a dream, yourself, 
  Where you were totally naked?
  I think you're a man of little imagination.

Well I love the book, but I've just made 
some adjustments to it.  I - every copy I have, 
I've removed all the penises from it.  
  Oh my god, you have!!
Yes, so you can see, there's nothing there.
I removed the penises, 
I removed the butt crack over here, okay.  
I've taken the penis out over here. 
You don't have to worry about the penis offending 
anybody.  (wiggles finger through cut-out hole)
  Not at all.  Wow.  

But I keep all the penises, 
I cut them out and I put them in a little plastic bag.
I also cut out all the other penises I see 
in the books and magazines.
I've got a couple hundred here.
(holds up bag of penis cut-outs)
  And there's nothing wrong with you, of course.  
I come across a lot of penises.
  I am so impressed.

[Flashback to earlier interview]
  It is a miracle that I have lived this long 
  without having destroyed a person.
  I still have a little bit of time.
To kill someone?
  To kill someone.  Yeah.

On sharing reflection, and learning from others
Thursday January 26th 2012, 3:55 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Happy birthday, world! Following my New Year’s resolution, I am gradually moving my scheduling, notetaking, and planning to public wikis and this blog. It has been a slow year so far*, with occasional bursts of excitement. But there have already been two enormous discussion coming up in the Wikimedia world, the sort that generates thousands of pages of interesting discussion.

I have noticed that the most difficult discussions tend to benefit not just from open discussion, but from clusters of discussion among different groups and audiences. For instance, the controversial content discussion over the past years had some success when it was a single large group working through ideas on Meta. But it wasn’t until many communities organized many different discussion groups in response to a (misnamed) referendum held on the topic, that the best reflections came out. The German Wikipedians in particular organized a discussion that neatly laid out various options and their pros and cons, and made a strong case that an image hiding feature was a technical solution to an editorial problem, and not helpful to many of the audiences that might want one.

* But now that I am over some personal tribulations I am getting back to my normal routines and typing speeds.

Comments Off on On sharing reflection, and learning from others

Alain de Botton plans numinous nooks for atheists
Thursday January 26th 2012, 2:04 am
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory,international

AdB, building on ideas from his recent book Religion for Atheists, is designing atheist temples in London, with Tom Greenall Architects.

He imagines a network of them one day, but is far from his usual eloquence when talking about them. To offer inspiration, surety, and perspective — and to develop cultures to sustain such glorious monuments — will require a more assured and positive description of why they exist.

Comments Off on Alain de Botton plans numinous nooks for atheists

13000 comments 1 post, part 2
Saturday January 21st 2012, 5:14 am
Filed under: %a la mod,Blogroll,international,popular demand,Uncategorized

Update: see also Clay Shirky’s brilliant talk explaining SOPA and PIPA, and why they were drafted.

More comments on the Wikimedia community blog:

  1. I didn’t even know about the proposed legislation by America until just now reading here about the blackout and I’m sure that most people, including most Americans have no idea about it…  I have been going to Wikipedia since I was little as a site that I could trust not to have an agenda. I have grown up with Wikipedia as a part of my life and I am grateful for your existence.  – Sigrid Anderson
  2. The comments show that Wiki has generated a considerable amount of uninformed hysteria about proposed legislation that is not going to be adopted  – Bill Wood
  3. You should blackout every language version. The whole world is against of this dumb law.  – Jesús Manuel O.
  4. I’m an Australian man facing similar legislation.  I have been hoping that Wikipedia, Google, and similar organizations would make their position known in the form of a black out protest, to say what my little voice can’t get across  – Uriah
  5. “It’s political, but it’s not partisan politics.  SOPA is not a left-right issue. It’s a new media, old media issue. New media has every right to get political about its future. Congress should not be in the business of protecting one business model at the expense of another, especially when the new model is the only true source of growth in the nation’s economy for the last 20 years.” – Factoid (via Reddit)
  6. SOPA in it’s current form is scary, yet preventable, and I support Wikipedia for making a stand. – Brande Kramer
  7. Oh…no…witnessing the gagging and chaining of our only remaining freedoms: healthy freedom of speech and self expression on the internet would surely break my heart!  – Alejandro Bina
  8. A word of advice for everyone, like myself, who will suffer the inconvenience of this black out:
    Don’t Panic.  – Rowdy
  10. Working within an Indigenous community in Australia, it is clear to me that poverty begins and becomes generational, with lack of access to information.  – Ron West
  11. Wikipedia… is a source for great knowledge.
    Wikipedia team is not an ordinary team.
    The protest must be supported in a resounding tone of echoes.   – Karthik Yerramilly
  12. A G R E E !!!  – George MacNabb, M.D.
  13. This message has brought me to tears, literally.  – Carol
  14. These bills restrict not just freedom of expression, but considerably worse, will constrain an individual’s right to knowledge.  – Aisha
  15. America isn’t the world. If members of the American parliament are planning on doing something in America, it’s YOUR problem.  – Thomas Marshall
  17. I don’t really see how protesting a restriction on the free flow of information by restricting the free flow of information is at all helpful. Aren’t you just doing exactly what they want you to do?  – jjs
  18. AWESOME! The internet is a tool for the evolution of our entire species, not just another control mechanis…  – Trevor Allen
  19. about time someone takes action against SOPA and this nonsense!! YOU’RE AWESOME WIKI!  – brittany
  20. Thumbs down to Wikipeida. What’s wrong with you guys? I read the SOPA and I don’t see in any way will harm free speech.  SOPA is about IP and business, different stuff alright.  – James
  21. Wikipedia has created a permanent shift in human awareness, and has probably altered the very structure of our minds by abolishing “I don’t know” from out lives so many billions upon billions of times. Wikipedia going dark will hurt. It will be frightening, and I’m going to hate it. But if they chose to go dark for a month in protest of such terrifyingly dangerous laws, they’d still have my absolute support.  – Ehren Turner
  22. The balls (or ovaries) of the administrators are commendable. As much as it will hurt me if it does happen- I am aware it’d hurt me more if it didn’t  – jUrk
  23. como en mexico como en america latina y no me reservo al todo el mundo, nos sentimos indignados y ultrajados por esta tonta accion, que conlleba a lo que por muchos años idealistas han peleado y han muerto por ello. la libertad, la idea de controlarla de esta manera me parece arrogante y de mal gusto. – gerardo perez
  24. I love Wikipedia, but I think you’re making a big mistake in opposing laws that restrain intellectual theft.  – Hal Barwood
  25. If some industries must rethink their economic models in the face of the fundamental changes the internet has afforded the larger world, then so be it. That is by far the lesser evil  – Steven Burg
  26. Yeah, I get it, but 24 hours, really. How is that a protest. The library closed for 2 days over the weekend every week…big deal. I know your head is in the right place but really, man-up and do something that makes noise.  – Mehnert
  27. From Iran.
    It is very disappointing to see what my people are trying to fight here is emerging in the U.S.
    …we can live one day without Wikipedia to make sure it remains there forever.  – AgentTheGreat
  28. I definitely concur Team Wikipedia. Do what you have to do. ‘Nuff respect!  – Kush Barnes
  29. <quotes Spiro Agnew>
  30. Here in South Africa the government is in the process of passing a secrecy bill, which will, in effect muzsle the media as well as free speech. I definately support the blackout.  – Walter Hutchison
  31. I would also like to offer my country – South Africa – as the potential host if you need to move.  – Adam Brink
  32. Do not disrupt Wikipedia to make a point. Shame on you.  – Kyaa
  33.  dear wiki-world, i experience ms. gardner’s statement and wiki community’s mandate to be nuanced and reasoned—neither overly interventionist/hysterical nor frightened into inaction—not making wiki (this gynormously birthed baby) an overly precious object, nor being so lax as to be w/out any integrity.  – mazal
  34. This is actually a very serious decision. In all its years of existance, i have never seen Wiki go down. Just yesterday, a national stock exchange was DDOSed and hence out of service. I have seen the PSN go down. I have seen gaming clients’ networks go down. I have seen news clippings of “such and such site attacked and compromised”. But never Wiki was attacked or down, because everyone accepts it to be a neutral ground, a safe no-nonsense ground, where everyone turned to for information, regardless of language.This is one of the unwritten rules of the internet.
    This blackout just shows how serious this SOPA and PIPA problem is.
    I completely and unconditionally support Wikimedia in this.   –jmd.akbar
  35. Not only Wikipedia, but also the structure of Wikipedia is quite dependant on the freedom of expression on the [W]eb. Even if wikipedia itself is not blocked in any way, we would still feel the backlash if other websites with legitimate information are blocked… badly defined laws with a broad spectrum such as these tend to be abused for purposes they were not (or perhaps were) intended for.  – Excirial
  36. “We want people to trust Wikipedia, not worry that it is trying to propagandize them.” But then just a few lines down in the same letter it says… “I have increasingly begun to think of Wikipedia’s public voice, and the goodwill people have for Wikipedia, as a resource that wants to be used for the benefit of the public.” So they don’t want people to think they are engaging propaganda, but… want to use the “voice” of Wikipedia to influence public policy? …I imagine I will support many/all of the positions they would support, but I dislike the idea of eroding Wikipedia’s neutrality.  – Dan
  37. If I start replicating Wikipedia pages on a gigantic website of my own, for my own purposes such as to put ads on them generating revenue for myself, you wouldn’t like that would you? Oh, but by your standard, wouldn’t that be “freedom of expression”? I think you need to explain your position a lot better than you have done.  – jrbt2647
  38. I think we can cope without Wikipedia for 24 hours if it is for something like this. We should not be bullied.
  39. Today on MLK day! I’m reminded it’s my duty to continuously keep watch over and non-violently fight for our civil rights. Thank you, Wikipedia!  – Maggie Evan
  40. piracy… is a very real economic threat to the creative community. However, the methods by which these acts combat it are heavy-handed and overreaching; like fighting cancer with grenades. I am an artist who is opposed to piracy, and I applaud Wikipedia for this stand.
  41. “Although Wikipedia’s articles are neutral, its existence is not”, the statement is what strongly influenced on me. Thank you, all Wikipedians, for letting them know what is the right thing to do!  – Jerryz Tschin
  42. Doing a blackout to protest against censorship is like shooting random people in the street to protest against the death penalty.  – Björn
  43. Here in New Zealand we have a similar law. The legislation here means that anyone even suspected of disobeying the current piracy laws can have their internet access withdrawn at the ISP level. No burden of proof is required, just a certain number of unsubstantiated complaints from a copywrite holder. I understand and support the protest and hope that everyone can see the requirement to speak out now before things get any worse.  – Matt
  44. No argument is available why it helps or is good for media companies to not have protection. Who cares anyway, it won’t hurt Wikipedia. Or does Wikipedia now plan to host copyright content.
  45. I agree that the blackout is a good idea, but it is a shame that in its statement, Wikipedia/Wikimedia did not also make a strong statement to distance themselves from online piracy. This would have clearly confirmed that, while we do not condone online piracy, that we do want preservation of online freedom.  – Daeld
  46. I fear a world in which someone might be sued for humming a tune or quoting a line from a movie!
  47. The internet… from the very beginning has always seemed to me like a world mind. From my first log on so many years ago I was amazed at the open sharing on so many levels that was available. Year by year it has matured, with more reliable sources of information becoming available… a rich depth of knowledge, experience, and opinions: brilliant and beautiful bits… The entire festival of words, pictures, history, music, and vidography is like one enormous love poem to ourselves… The idea that we would allow anyone to tamper with this or take it from us without a fight is unconscionable.I find the current trend in this legislation to be highly suspect. I think it has much more to do with inserting fingers of control which can then be tightened into an iron grip than it does with the putative problem of piracy. As someone who is trying to make her living as a writer I rely on Wikipedia among other things as resources but I think I can suck it up for one day.  – Marilyn Melnicoe
  48. It is not advocacy to fight for your survival. Everyone is affected by this legislation, within and outside the US… The WWW is at risk of being ‘enclosed’ (removed from shared public ownership)… vested interests assert ownership of large parts [and] remove them from shared possession. We’ve seen this with land, with music, with software (leading to the need for CopyLeft) and now the right to index knowledge… It is certainly about piracy – the theft of public property for personal gain. – Loftwork
  49. I fully support this shutdown. SOPA, PIPA and NDAA… inflict unjust impediments on freedom of the common person, two online and one in “real” life… justified by exaggerated causes that can’t be fought by that legislation
  50. This is an act NOT of politics, but of self-preservation. Please make sure that, when the site comes back up, there is another banner explaining why it was down, for those who missed this message. – LTL
Comments Off on 13000 comments 1 post, part 2

SOPA, PIPA votes delayed, bills sent back for revision
Friday January 20th 2012, 2:49 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,meta,metrics

SOPA author Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Senate majority lead Harry Reid (D-NV) both issued statements today that they would be delaying votes on SOPA and PIPA.  Rep. Smith says “we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem“; Senator Reid will send the bill back to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and hopes to “reach a compromise in the coming weeks“.

It looks like those 18 Senators have their work cut out for them.  Few of them have indicated they have any understanding of how the bills are dangerously broken.


PS: Clay Shirky has a brilliant TED talk about the bills online.

Comments Off on SOPA, PIPA votes delayed, bills sent back for revision

SOPA – PIPA math: 61% >> 28%
Thursday January 19th 2012, 10:41 pm
Filed under: chain-gang,metrics,wikipedia

Three cheers for participatory democracy! The percentage of stated opposition to SOPA and PIPA in Congress changed dramatically over the past two days, from 28% to 61%. [If you count people who are “leaning No”, by ProPublica’s estimate, this goes up to 69%.]

How many politicians announced they would be co-sponsoring or otherwise outright supporting SOPA/PIPA on Wednesday? By our count: Zero.

Update: Harry Reid releases Dems in the Senate to vote against PIPA if their conscience demands. And Chris Dodd, former Senator and current MPAA Chairman, just called for a summit between Internet and traditional ‘content’ companies, convened by the White House, to reach a compromise. (He hasn’t yet realized that major content companies today are Internet companies.)

We are experiencing the growth of social unity and a certain moral sense across the Web, among people who have found something wonderful, worth defending with all their heart. This is a small piece; it is thrilling to be part of it. I hope you feel it too.

Blackout Wednesday wrapup #3: impact edition
Wednesday January 18th 2012, 11:54 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,chain-gang,metrics,wikipedia

Over a dozen Congressmen have changed or clarified their position on PIPA and SOPA over the course of the past 36 hours, towards opposing the bills.   This includes six senators and two representatives who had previously been co-sponsors or solid supporters of the relevant bill in their chamber.  Many more who formerly were neutral about the bills or leaning towards opposing them, are now calling them “misguided”, saying they will “cause more harm than good”, “harm free speech rights”, “weaken freedom of expression on the Internet”, and would “harm Internet innovation and jobs”.  Most agree that the bills as written “need to be stopped”.  It seems that some of them have looked at the bills with a magnifying glass for the first time.

Senator Boozman summarizes: “Over the past few weeks, the chorus of concerns over Congressional efforts to address online piracy has intensified“.  A week ago it looked like there might be a straight 60-vote approval of PIPA in the Senate; now it is losing suppoters by the hour, and may have a hard time getting majority support; making it unlikely to make it to a vote at all.


Blackout impact

Politico and others suggest that much of this movement was a direct result of the strong online statement made by the EFF, Reddit, Google, Wikipedia, and others – and the protest organized by those groups to express their views to every representative and senator in the country.  Wikipedia produced a ‘find your local representative’ widget, to ensure that we encouraged readers to call their representatives directly; Google simply encouraged signing a petition.

Once the blackout launched, it trended worldwide on Twitter, with hashtags such as #factswithoutwikipedia, #SOPAstrike and #wikipediablackout.  At one point, according to Trendistic, #wikipediablackout was used in 1% of all tweets.  Hotspots claims that SOPA (and #SOPA) has accounted for a quarter-million tweets an hour since then.

The EFF reports that by 5pm, over 250,000 1 million people had contacted their representatives through the EFF blacklist site. Wikipedia reports roughly 160 million people have seen their blackout page, and eight million of those have looked up their elected representatives’ contact information through its tool.  (No word on how many made contact; if there is a dropoff rate similar to the first clickthrough, then that would make another 400,000 contacts.)  Google reports gathering 4.5 million signatures on its petition.


Statements today from members of Congress:

Senators noting their disapproval of PIPA yesterday and today: (those who switched away from previously indicated support are listed in bold)

  1. Mark Begich (D-AK)
    I oppose PIPA…Online piracy needs to be addressed, but the current form of the bill isn’t the proper way to do it.
  2. Roy Blunt (R-MO) @RoyBlunt
    I strongly oppose sanctioning Americans’ right to free speech in any medium, including over the internet. #SOPA #PIPA
  3. John Boozman (R-AR) [facebook]
    Over the past few weeks, the chorus of concerns over Congressional efforts to address online piracy has intensified… I intend to withdraw my support for the Protect IP Act.  I will have my name removed as a co-sponsor of the bill and plan to vote against it
  4. Scott Brown (R-MA) @ScottBrownMA
    I’m going to vote no, the Internet is too important to our economy
  5. Jim DeMint (R-SC) @JimDeMint
    I support intellectual property rights, but I oppose SOPA & PIPA. They’re misguided bills that will cause more harm than good.
  6. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) [thehill] @OrrinHatch
    That’s why I will not only vote against moving the bill forward next week but also remove my cosponsorship of the bill. #utpol #tcot #PIPA
  7. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) [facebook]
    SOPA is the wrong response from the US Congress.  (also now opposes PIPA)
  8. Johanns (R-NE) [ journalstar]
  9. Mark Kirk (R-IL) [kirk]
    Freedom of speech is an inalienable right granted to each and every American, and the Internet has become the primary tool with which we utilize this right… This extreme measure stifles First Amendment rights and Internet innovation.
  10. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) @SenJeffMerkley
    Thanks for all the calls, emails, and tweets. I will be opposing #SOPA and #PIPA. We can’t endanger an open internet.
  11. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) [adn]
    The bill raises serious concerns about our civil liberties. That’s why next week I plan to oppose the current PIPA bill.
  12. Marco Rubio (R-FL) @marcorubio
    After hearing from people with legit concerns, have withdraw support for #PIPA. Let’s take time to do it right. #SOPA

Senators who changed from support, to advocating a delay in voting for revision and reconsideration:

  • Ben Cardin (D-MD)
  • John Cornyn (R-TX) @JohnCornyn
    SOPA: better to get this done right rather than fast and wrong… the potential impact of this legislation is too far-reaching to ram it through Congress.
  • Charles Grassley, (R-AL)
    Since the mark-up, we have increasingly heard from a large number of constituents and other stakeholders with vocal about possible unintended consequences of the proposed legislation, including breaches in cybersecurity, damaging the integrity of the Internet, costly and burdensome litigation, and dilution of First Amendment rights
  • Robert Menendez (D-NJ) @SenatorMenendez
    #NJ: I hear your concerns re: #PIPA loud & clear & share in these concerns. I’m working to ensure critical changes are made to the bill.

House Representatives stating disapproval or opposition: (those switching away from previously indicated support or cosponsorship again in bold, but this was harder to ascertain):

  1. Akin (R-MO)
    Copyrights must be protected, but not at this cost. Open internet and free speech!
  2. Baldwin (D-WI)
    I do not believe it is the responsibility of Internet service providers to become the police of the Internet.
  3. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) @RepGusBilirakis
    Piracy should be prosecuted, but I have deep concerns about SOPA’s effect on free speech rights and am opposed to it in its current form.
  4. Blumenauer (D-OR)
    Rep. Blumenauer’s website joined the blackout for an hour: Today I am joining the millions of Americans who are standing with the world’s most innovative websites against the proposed censorship of PIPA and SOPA
  5. Bruce Braley (D-IA) @BruceBraley
    I’ve heard you. I strongly oppose #SOPA.
  6. Courtney (D-CT)
    SOPA as it exists today… should be scrapped entirely. An axe instead of a scalpel, this bill would unacceptably and fundamentally change the architecture of the internet.
  7. DeFazio (D-OR) [facebook]
    Wikipedia, Craigslist and others are dark today to bring attention to the atrocious SOPA bill that will take away freedom on the internet.
  8. DeGette
    I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to contact me about SOPA… Without serious changes I’m not convinced SOPA effectively solves the issue and am concerned about the implications it would have for online innovation.
  9. Keith Ellison (D-MN) @keithellison
    #SOPA would harm internet innovation and jobs. Better ways to fight piracy.
  10. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) @JeffFortenberry
    I oppose #SOPA–it would disrupt the structural integrity of the internet
  11. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) @JeffFlake
    I oppose #SOPA because I’m concerned it will restrict free speech.
  12. Cory Gardner (R-CO) @repcorygardner
    online piracy is a real issue but we must maintain a free & open internet #opposeSOPA #endpiracynotliberty
  13. Gosar (R-AZ)
  14. Graves (R-GA)
    We’re getting a bunch of questions this morning about the ‘Stop Online Piracy Act.’ I wanted to let you know that I oppose the bill.
  15. Grijalva (D-AZ)
    This legislation has moved beyond protecting legitimate intellectual property rights and is now headed down a path that would let companies decide what you get to view online.
  16. Tim Holden (R-PA)
    An open Internet requires that we find a better approach that is acceptable to all sides. [politicspa]
  17. Holt (D-NJ)
  18. Honda (D-CA) [politico]
    The bills as currently constructed, with overbroad definitions, will do much more harm than good, hurting the very people they are supposed to protect.
  19. Hultgren (R-IL) @RepHultgren
    Given the widespread coverage the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has received, I want to let you know that I oppose it in its current form.
  20. Inhofe (R-OK)
  21. Steve Israel (D-NY) @RepSteveIsrael
    I oppose #SOPA. We must protect innovation without weakening free expression on the Internet.
  22. Darrell Issa (R-CA) @DarrellIssa
    83 Internet pioneers: #SOPA & #PIPA would destroy web #DNS system as we know it. LETTER: #SOPA #stopSOPA #PIPA
  23. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) @RepLynnJenkins
    I do not support SOPA, will fight against any efforts to advance it, and will vote against it if it comes to the floor.
  24. Kinzinger (R-IL) [facebook]
    the way these bills are currently written does not ensure an open and free internet and that is not something I can support.
  25. Latham (R-IA)
    I oppose SOPA or any bill abridging freedom of speech.
  26. Lee (D-CA)
    SOPA in its current form is far too close to internet censorship, something I strongly oppose.
  27. Marchant (R-TX)
  28. Jim Matheson (D-UT) @RepJimMatheson
    Oppose SOPA and PIPA; online piracy is a serious issue, but these bills are not the way to go. Complicated issue
  29. McCotter (R-MI)
  30. McDermott (D-WA) [facebook]
    I’ve heard from many of you about the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA). We need to do something about online piracy, but this bill is not the right way to do it.
  31. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) @PatrickMcHenry
    I oppose #SOPA in its current form and have signed on as an original co-sponsor of the #OPEN Act. Check out
  32. Mike Michaud (D-ME) @RepMikeMichaud
    #SOPA need to be stopped. Speak out and make sure Congress hears you.
  33. Jim Moran (D-VA) @Jim_Moran
    I oppose #SOPA. Keep the internet open.
  34. Nugent (R-FL)
    I’ve gotten a lot of calls from people today urging me to oppose SOPA (or PIPA, as the Senate companion bill is called). I do oppose the bill as it’s currently written.
  35. Pascrell Jr (D-NJ)
  36. Price (D-NC)
    I am opposed to the proposed SOPA bill… Today’s ‘black-out’ campaigns by Google, Wikipedia and other major websites echo the voices of the many constituents I’ve heard from.
  37. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) @chelliepingree
    So many contacting me today outraged with #SOPA and I couldn’t agree more. #mepolitics
  38. David Price (D-NC) @RepDavidEPrice
    Release: Price Opposes #SOPA, Calls on Congress to Protect Open Internet #ncpol
  39. Ben Quayle (R-AZ)  [politico]
  40. Dennis Ross (R-FL) 
    “I believe #SOPA is dead.”
  41. Tim Ryan (D-OH) @RepTimRyan
    Web piracy is a an issue that should be dealt with, but I oppose #SOPA bc it does too much harm to innovation & speech @eff @boingboing
  42. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) @JanSchakowsky
    Thank you all for the many calls today to #StopSOPA! I want you to know that I oppose #SOPA & will vote against it #p2
  43. John Shimkus (R-IL)  @RepShimkus
    We can protect intellection property through anti-piracy legislation w/o censoring free speech or stifling innovation. #SOPA is not the way.
  44. Adam Smith (D-WA) [adamsmith]
    these measures, if enacted, would place unacceptable limitations on the accessibility of online information and content, impose undue burdens on small and innovative websites and applications, and would not be the most effective way to curtail overseas illegal piracy and theft of intellectual property.
  45. Lee Terry (R-NE) []
    SOPA, as currently drafted, isn’t the solution.
  46. Joe Walsh (R-IL) @RepJoeWalsh
    Thank God twitter isn’t blocked today so I can tell you that I refuse to vote for #SOPA. #uncensored #StopSOPA
  47. Yarmuth (D-KY)
    Thanks for your calls and emails this morning. I am opposed to #SOPA.
  48. Yoder (R-KS)

A doff of the hat : Much of this data comes from or was confirmed through ProPublica‘s excellent timeline of public statements by Congressmen about SOPA and PIPA.

12000 comments 1 post, Part 1
Wednesday January 18th 2012, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Blogroll,international,popular demand,wikipedia

The Wikimedia Blog has 1013,000 comments on Sue’s  SOPA/PIPA blackout post – roughly 3x the total volume of posts in the entire previous history of the blog.   By my casual estimate, 90% of comments are opsitive, 5% neutral, and 5% opposed (generally on the grounds that WP itself should be neutral).

They are a goldmine of interesting quotes.  A selection, for your entertainment:

  1. I was at first very irritated when I saw that Wikipedia was taking a political stand on any issue, I actually had no knowledge of these bills and after reading these bills, not only am I too very opposed to them but I also understand the threat these bills pose to Wikipedia itself. – Donald Langhorne
  2. The issues go far beyond the US. -FT2
  3. dis is retarded -____- im 13 and i NEED wikipedia!!!!!How else do u think i get good grades on my essays?!?   -LLAMAZRULE
  4. Good. Great. Fantastic. Amazing. I love it. Public figures, be they people or webpages, never take a bold stance on anything important. Thank you for doing so. – Quarex
  5. Not only is Wikipedia the easiest, quickest and most hassle-free place to check up on facts, but now it also has the courage to take a stand against restrictions of our freedom online as well! – Jennifer Fricker
  6. Black it out for a week if you have to. GO WIKIPEDIA!
  7. i don’t really know about this man. I know it’s got to be a hard decision but i don’t think it’s a good thing. what if somethin’ happens because someone hacked the government lately so please don’t do this.  -rhedeosi
  8. blindness seems so easy..while vision is so hard to bear…
  9. Just learned of your blackout in support of intellectual property thievery. I disagree with your position.  I have for several years sent a year-end contribution to Wikipedia. Since you have thrown your support to brigands, thieves, miscreants and malefactors, I will send no further contributions. This is NOT a free speech issue as you claim. This is about appropriating work of others without compensation. We call this theft. It is a crime. You can look it up in Britannica.   -tcement
  10. It is the movie companies etc who are the pirates. The films they produce are mainly rubbish these days and actors are paid way too much.
  11. I kinda hate you for shutting down my favorite recreational website for 24 hours, but not only do I agree with why and what you’re doing, I’m also glad such a large user website is taking their time to shut down and bring awareness to this nasty piece of legislation. -Joey
  12. I am extremely disappointed that the issues raised by those opposed to this action have not been addressed. The English Wikipedia community is not 100% behind this action… this is a sad day in the history of Wikipedia.  seem[s] like a rash action to me and one pushed forward by the tyranny of the majority – RobertHorning
  13. Didn’t have any idea about this so thanks for not only informing me but taking steps to protect us from this legislation. – Alice Miller
  14. Yo apoyo su postura y desearía conocer de que otra forma puedo apoyar la causa de una libertad que es inherente absolutamente a todos los seres humanos. –  Jorge, Mexico
  15. I support this plan, but I hope that WP still open and not close forever.
  16. As an artist and so-called “content provider,” I totally support this blackout. – Gary Lee
  17. I was not aware of the choices being made. I am therefor very proud to have found this blackout ideal going on. I do not think the men and ladies of our government offices will care to much about the black out… ON the Common man in central Illinois. I would say I do so enjoy your web help on so many levels. I thank you all so very much for many years of dedication.  – Micheal Raleigh
  18. I am thirteen years old and i love wikipedia. Have gotten good marks on most of my essays thanks to Wikipedia. You have my support.  – Tristan Wong
  19. I remember when television was free, and the first cable companies came to our smallish U.S. town with promises and packages for the city commissioners (the governors of our city) to admire. They courted us, then they took over so there weren’t any alternatives any more…  – Judy Allensworth
  20. A great decision, people need to be made aware of SOPA/PIPA. You have my support in future fundraisers because of this.  – jam12
  21. We, as a global people, need access to an Internet that crosses borders without restraint. I say this as an American, living behind China’s Digital Great Wall. Yes, I can go around it, but why should I have to?  – Eva Richardson
  22. As a financial contributer to Wikipedia I must say that I am dissapointed that this protest is planned. My so far unsubstantiated fear is that opponents of this law… want no legal interference with the internet… so that they can file share stolen intellectual property… I wish Wikipedia would stick to its primary purpose. I am unlikely to continue my perpetual support of the Wikipedia community if I feel I am likely to support political causes too–even if they are at times causes I support.  – C. Becker
  23. I’ve been something of a Wikipedia fanatic since its debut, when I could barely reach the keyboard. Sure, a six year old kid can’t really learn that much about applied physics—but the thought that I was reading “smart stuff” worked wonders on my little noggin. Now the thought that any number of bills could take away… one of my best sources of information enrages me. And this isn’t even taking into consideration the damage SOPA and PIPA could cause in other sites which can only subsist with the free transfer of media and information (Youtube, Reddit…)  – sebastian
  24. How do I, as a High School Senior, talk to my political leaders to stop these acts from being signed.regards, Dixon Romeo
  25. ..en el nombre de un internet libre apoyamos esta movida.   – edwin
  26. Not only english Wikipedia must blackout this next Wednesday, the other languages too… we have a saying here in South America: “When the USA sneezes, the rest of the world catch a cold”. Those bills are very dangerous for freedom of expression, and if that happens in the so called “land of the free”, what can other countries expect? My full support for you, Wikipedia, we will win!  – David
  27. Great news… This is a milestone in the decades-long reformulation of intellectual property rights during the age of computers. The solution still eludes us. Creative people must have rights to their creations, but tyranny must be avoided.  – Jeff Laird
  28. I’m so confused with the SOPA…  USA is very honor the freedom, but why you do this?
  29. While I oppose SOPA as well, so much for wiki’s NPOV.  – Glenn
  30. This is finals week at my school so it will be difficult to not have Wikipedia for a day, but I support what y’all are doing and I am glad such a large website like wiki is standing up for our rights, maybe our congress people will listen. – Morgan
  31. As a longtime fan of Wikipedia, this decision saddens me… Wikipedia’s voluntary blackout doesn’t affect my feelings on SOPA. I still support it, and I suspect that the only people whose opinions change are those who know little about the subject  – Mark
  32. this sucks I will lose my brain for 24 hours – gelly909
  33. the blackout is already being run on the local news networks. So the protest is already making headlines. No pain no gain.  – Neale Family
  34. Though I wholeheartedly support the blackout (and think a 24 hour blackout is too short)… this form of protest is a one-time deal… Any protest afterwards may make Wikipedia appear politically skewed; consequently, this is a temporary solution to stopping internet censorship. Real solutions must be made by limiting corporations, redefining outdated laws… – Kevin
    – SRK
  36. You should also black out the Spanish language version of Wikipedia. It’s just as much the language of the United States as any other. And add German, French, Italian, Chinese, Hmong, Sanskrit, Pashtun, etc. while you are at it. All cultures have been welcomed here.  – tooluser
  37. This should not have been done without widespread participation… Many people want to contribute to Wikipedia without getting entangled in Federal policy debates.  – Racepacket
  38. A kid, first, talks by it own way,
    after learning and teaching it talk right words.
    Institution should teach how to provide right content and publishers should learn
    – Rajagopal Jeyaraman
  39. The 24 hour silence of Wikipedia will be most eloquent. Thank you for taking such a stand!
  40. love wikipedia for things like this, its so…open. For the people, by people.
  41. I am in complete and utter shock. I had been quietly reading what everyone thought and kept thinking no, Wikipedia wouldn’t take such a political stand. Now it is. I never thought I’d see the day… this is amazing to see happening.  – cycloneGU
  42. While I totally approve of Mrs. Garnder’s letter and of the blackout protest, what is missing are clear specific reasons to oppose SOPA and PIPA.
  43. Although it is hard to pick what battles to fight that wall seems to be coming closer to our backs every day.
  44. Sorry, friends… fewer great minds will be willing to risk creating great things knowing that Wikipedia will confiscate the fruits of their labors, like a thuggish pimp, and whore them out.  Put away your self-righteousness, something that is so typical of mobs, and learn to honor the individual–the only thing that has ever made any great advances in any free society. Read “Atlas Shrugged” and learn.
    Do you have a response? I’d like to read it.  – Mike Whitehead
  45. As a scientist and as a professional engineer… I endorse the Wikipedia stand on the free flow of Internet information. Wikipedia is the best social institution to arise since the creation and distribution of written script via the printing press, second only to the publication of those social concepts and ideals of our founding fathers set down thereupon to guarantee their preservation.  – Anthony Bielecki, P.E., PhD
  46. After WWII in Japan, GHQ censored all publications in Japan. Then gradually they lifted censorship, but… step by step the publishers were trained to do what the authorities wanted; to submit to effective censorship of free expression and speech.  Too bad I won’t be doing my Media class on Friday at Toyo University. If the class was tomorrow, I would have the students get on Wikipedia, define their shock, and introduce the very important topic of free speech.  – Sarah Brock
  47. Even light-weight tabloids will notice and report it.  – Michael Wild
  48. Many of the objections raised about the powers of corporations to control user access to foreign sites… prohibit streaming… throttling of bandwidth… threatening ISP providers with shutdown, are already a reality here in Canada. If you can’t prevent this in the U.S., the rest of the world won’t have a chance. Good luck. Our children’s freedom is at stake.   – stephen
  49. you guys are doing the right thing… Luckily for me, I am Canadian but hold dual citizenship. If this passes, I will definitely pay the $500.00 to lose my dual citizenshi  – Sean
  50. SOPA will never be used to take down the largest encyclopedia in the world–to suggest otherwise is just disingenuous… Wikipedia should never take such an obviously political stance on something that will not affect them directly.

Blackout Wednesday website screenshots
Wednesday January 18th 2012, 5:31 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,Blogroll,international,wikipedia

Comments Off on Blackout Wednesday website screenshots

Stopping SOPA+PIPA: Blackout Wednesday #2
Wednesday January 18th 2012, 1:06 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,Glory, glory, glory,popular demand,wikipedia

It has been 12 hours since the blackouts protesting SOPA and PIPA started.  Below is  coverage from the English-language Net.

Best quotes so far:

Wikipedia blacked out.  Fine, I’ll buy some used encyclopedias from Craigslist.  WTF?  I’m going to Reddit to complain about this.  OMG!!

Icanhazcheezeburger?! OK, this is serious now.”


In Wikipedia land:

  • The response to the English Wikipedia blackout has been overwhelmingly positive.  The OTRS team (a community group that handles most email inquiries about Wikipedia) has been handling the surge of correspondence beautifully.
  • a post by Sue Gardner on the WMF blog about the blackout have together received over 10,000 comments from readers — roughly 3x the total # of comments received in the entire history of the blog.  90% of them are supportive of the blackout, 5% are opposed, and 5% are neutral.
  • Fellow trustee Stu West suggests that 100M Wikipedia readers may read about the bills today via Wikipedia –  half via the blackout on English Wikipedia, and half from banners on other language projects and the mobile sites.  (Another large audience saw the ‘heads-up’ banner we ran all day yesterday.)

Elsewhere on the Web

In Washington, politicians are beginning taking notice. They seem to be seriously considering and commenting on the demonstrated failings of the legislation on hand, not just backing off (as GoDaddy did) to await ‘consensus’.

Other coverage online:





Comments Off on Stopping SOPA+PIPA: Blackout Wednesday #2

Preserving Internet freedom: protesting SOPA and the Wikipedia blackout
Wednesday January 18th 2012, 12:02 am
Filed under: international,Not so popular,popular demand,Rogue content editor,Uncategorized,wikipedia

Thousands of web sites across the Internet are shutting down today to protest proposed U.S. laws (SOPA and PIPA) that would make it difficult for websites to host community-generated content on the Internet. Most notably, the English Wikipedia is implementing a 24-hour blackout, replacing articles with a notice describing the two bills and encouraging readers to take action to stop them.Please take a moment to learn more about the bills and why they would be harmful to the open Web, to open education, and to present and future collaborative projects.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and other non-profit organizations dedicated to preserving freedom on the Web have ways that you can make your voice heard in the national and international debate about these proposed laws.

Comments Off on Preserving Internet freedom: protesting SOPA and the Wikipedia blackout

SOPA suds-off : the first four hours
Wednesday January 18th 2012, 12:01 am
Filed under: chain-gang,indescribable,Uncategorized,wikipedia


Jan 18 Blackouts:

On the WP blackout:

Analysis of WP blackout:


WHERE the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father,
let my country awake. — R. Tagore

Community comentary:

  • Risker, one of three community authors of the en:wp decision to shutter the site on Jan 18th, in #wikimedia-sopa :
    Folks….thank you all for doing such an amazing job to implement the screwiest decision I’ve ever had to write. You have all done well.
  • Some people are lost without WP, mirrors or no mirrors
  • Well, it’s good for people to learn how to get around the blackout of sites, because they’ll need to know how if SOPA passes.
  • I can search Wikipedia through the mobile sights…. Black that out too!!! QUICKLY (01:00 EST)
  • As I thought when I read Geoff Brigham’s blog post on SOPA, ‘it’s gotta be bad if it makes the DMCA look good.’

Public commentary:

  •  @NatLibrariesDay Wikipedia is closed for business today, but your local public library isn’t!


Mystery Hunt 2012: Romancing The Notes

Every January I spend a weekend in the Land of Mystery, tucked into a facet of MIT: that is, the MIT Mystery Hunt.

It is somewhere between a religious experience, performance art, and an exercise in observation, pattern matching, and problem solving. It is also wickedly tricky, a pinnacle of amateur puzzle contests: teams of 50+ people spend two full days solving a series of interlocked puzzles to find a coin hidden somewhere on campus.

This past weekend I took my annual pilgrimage across Cambridge to MIT for the Hunt, but for the first time my team was running the event, rather than competing. This was our tenth anniversary as Team Codex (we started out the year before as the aduni team, then adopted a proper codename), and producing the Hunt was a fitting way to celebrate. Many of us had a backlog of puzzle ideas that were converted into working puzzles over the course of the past year, with much iteration and satisfaction. Few of us had ever designed Mystery Hunt-caliber puzzles before, though we knew in principle how it was done.

We staged the first musical-themed Hunt on record, in an effort to encourage teams to share their own creativity while solving. Max and Leo from The Producers showed up at MIT, now out of jail and looking to make goo^B^B^B out like bandits, this time for good. They staged a short production of their own to get everyone in the mood, and then invited students to help them research and put on a series of guaranteed musical flops… While this didn’t work out exactly as planned, along the way were fancy cocktail parties with potential stars, swimming-pools full of Sets of ducks, research into the private peeves and longings of theater critics, campus spelunking, video game hacking, and a denouement in which, unbelievably… . . . well, it’s complicated. You’ll just have to explore the Hunt site itself to see how the saga ended.

We had roughly 70 active people on our organizing team, and everyone played multiple roles — writing, testing, and implementing puzzles, software, and skits. Our lead performers, in addition to being fine actors and musicians, happened to be professional puzzle writers and editors, and wrote many of the Hunt’s 107 puzzles as well as the book for our productions. Our lead editor also kept the production team together through stressful moments, providing black humor as needed, and preserving a fast editing pace all Fall without upending our minimal-heirarchy team. Hotshot solvers shifted gears to rewrite swaths of code. When puzzle-lover Neil Patrick Harris declined to MC the awards ceremony, we called on a home-grown rock star instead. Dozens of people joined the cast in the final weeks and picked up their parts without a hitch.

Having been involved with organizing perhaps a dozen events of similar size, I can say without hesitation that this was the most satisfying and life-affirming. We had varied and prolific organizers, an elaborate and dynamic schedule, a completely committed audience, and an extraordinary host-participant collaboration, with continual feedback. While the event ran for only 1500 people, its primary output was a broadly valuable story, told through puzzles: something that may be enjoyed for years or generations to come: a set of curious, colorful, maddening, marvelous puzzles, illustrated and interlinked, free to solve and repurpose. Just one more Act in the perennial romance between creative puzzlers and scientific endeavour.

Here is a sampling of this year’s puzzles, drawn from my favorites. Happy hunting! The average puzzle takes 2-10 person-hours to solve, depending on your experience and how quickly the right insights come to you.

Sounds Good To Me
(my all-hunt favorite)

Slash Fiction
(best casting and music, and the most expensive puzzle production)

Paper Trail
(an elegant, satisfying black box)

Yo Dawg I Herd You Like Puzzle Hunts
(yo dawg, i herd you like herd you like)

Itinerant People Of America
(man, this one is a hodge-podge.)

Picture An Acorn
(the final aha! will make you chump for joy)

The Rainbow Connection
(Now that’s rainbow-bright…)

Google Bodyslam
(“so, we’re working on a pro wrestling puzzle. what should we call it?”)

(the puzzle consists of nothing more than the title)

Coming To A Location Near You
(a wikipedia-based scavenger hunt)


OLPC Tablet: the XO-3 prototypes are here
Monday January 09th 2012, 7:34 am
Filed under: %a la mod,Glory, glory, glory,wikipedia

The XO-3 design is almost finished.  And there is a steady stream of loving video and photo coverage of the first prototypes, from the gadget-geek journalists at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

I have a less flashy version of the prototype on my desk, but have yet to touch acquire one of the magical solar tablet-covers. (yes, it’s what you think.  yes, it makes sense for all devices below a certain power-to-area ratio… a ratio that gets larger in the tropics.)

fuseproject‘s design work is, as usual, interstellar.

Hat tip to Neal Stephenson for extra inspiration this time around.  (Update: as Kim Bruning notes, now we need to write the primer.)

Update: a video of an XO powered only by a solar panel twice its area.  that’s using the least expensive solar tech; panels twice that density can be had for under $4/Watt .

Comments Off on OLPC Tablet: the XO-3 prototypes are here

New Year’s Resolution: Transluce
Sunday January 01st 2012, 1:01 am
Filed under: %a la mod,Glory, glory, glory

Do everything publicly.  Life is too short; the only good idea is a shared and implemented idea.

Exceptions where demanded by legal or social obligation, or (temporarily only) by inflexible tools and process — in which cases, publicly describe and summarize those private demands.

Comments Off on New Year’s Resolution: Transluce

Bad Behavior has blocked 157 access attempts in the last 7 days.