Photo: Flickr user lifeontheedge

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Whoa: Apple's going to put out a wiki engine. (If I was writing wikiwyg fanfiction, this is what it would be about.) Luckily for wikia, socialtext, and pretty much everybody else, it looks like it'll only run on apple servers, and who the hell has an apple server?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

NYTimes article on Wikimania, though not by the reporter I ran into.

In other news: A chinese wikipedia-style site was forced to shut down. (Sidenote: the chinese wikipedians I encountered at Wikimania were endearingly thrilled to be there. There has to be a way for an uncensored wikipedia to coexist with the PRC governmnet.)

I'm posting from Bedford-Stuyvesant (which I only recently learned how to pronounce.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Wikimania archives are mostly complete by now -- audio and video from the sessions.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

What's Happening to Knowledge? was great, but I walked in the the middle so I won't summarize.

I'm at Can Visualization help?, probably the session I was looking forward to the most. It's headed by Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, who've done some brilliant and badly needed work on Wikipedia visualizations, and Ben Shneiderman, expert in the field.

Fernanda Viégas: Live demo of history flow! Revert wars look like zigzags.

There's a new version that lets you zoom. And they're going to make it possible to use history flow with new wikipedia data (which hasn't been possible for awhile).

Martin Wattenberg: How can you get a picture of what a wikipedian works on? His visualization looks at all the edits of a particular user. These are beautiful snapshots of personalities, a little like poking through someone's bedroom. (For that reason, there are questions about whether tools like these should be released publicly. I hope they are, because they're utterly awesome.)

Ben Shneiderman's talk is about the field of visualization in general (and is targetted at businesspeople who aren't as computer-savvy as this audience -- one gets the feeling it's a presentation he's given before). Anticlimatic after Viégas and Wattenberg. But his intro is good: Using vision to think. "Visual bandwidth is enormous: Once you train your eye and your mind you begin to see it there quite naturally."

Viegas, relatedly: "People felt like they actually got it after they saw these visualizations. People who had never looked at wikipedia before could pick up on those patterns as well...From experience, the impact of showing this to people is just amazing."

The state of the Wikimedia Union

I'm at the Foundation Board panel. Big auditorium, sea of laptops (mine among them).


For creating content, Wikimedia has a decentralized model -- but maybe Wikimedia should be governed under a centralzied model (or maybe not -- the board should decide).

Wikipedia is blocked in China. Jimmy's going to the Chinese wikimedia conference to meet people and try to start solving things.

Jimmy: Choose your board members wisely! Although they won't get involved in community issues, they're responsible for the organization's strategic and legal future. They make the trains run on time.

Wikipedia in africa:
Jimmy: In the old days, the fundraising was about a desperate need to buy more servers so the site wouldn't break. But our fundraising has gotten more successful. What can we do to fulfil our organizational mission of providing knowledge to everyone in the world? We need to move conservatively, talk to people on the ground there, find out what they need and how we can help.

Questioner: Are we going to pay board members? For example, the next world social forum; it costs money to travel this much, give up this much of your time.)

Angela (who is (somewhat infamously) quitting the board): the foundation's decision-making process has become flawed. We now vote on a wiki instead of having discussions.

(Combination of direct quote and paraphrase from another board member.) "The world looks to this organization as a flagbearer of this century. This kind of thing has never been done before."

Wales: The conflict between accuracy and openness is an illusion. For example, stable versions will almost eliminate semiprotection. The details of finding the best path will be left up to the individual communities. Some things do make sense globally; those practices will spread, but it's not the board's duty to micromanage.

Wales: NPOV is potentially flexible: it is a term of art that is endowed with meaning by the community.

Questioner: Money is the most powerful force in the world. Will social sharing ever become more powerful than money? Board: No, people are the most powerful force.

Financial situation is good. For the first time, over the past six months, we've gotten steady donations every day. We have a buffer now. Wikimania will spend the money, at first, on additional hardware. The public is using our service; for every person in this auditorium, there are thousands of other interested people around the world.

In the future, there will be more donations from foundations and corporations, so we might get away from the pass-the-hat model. We'd always been just barely be able to keep up with traffic -- but now we can ask, what could we do if we had more money?

"I think what disturbs me is that it is reasonable to believe that in about five to ten years, I’ll be in the “new inside”. As I’m walking around at wikimania, I’m seeing new power structures form, and if one is not careful, new power structures develop the pathologies of the old power structures."

Part of twofish's opinionated and insightful coverage.

NPR interview with Lih about Wikimania.

Recordings of sessions. (Boingboing summarizes Jimmy's plenary. In the outside world: Cogent summary of the Colbert thing.)