Photo: Flickr user lifeontheedge

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Jedi census phenomenon was a grassroots movement in 2001 for citizens in a few English-speaking countries to record their religion as "Jedi" or "Jedi Knight" on the national census.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

If wikipedia were printed out, this is how big it would be. (Though I don't think the size of the binding is accounted for.) see also

While we're at it, Colbert's Wikiscanner commentary blows Olbermann's out of the water.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The wikiscanner coverage is still flowing fast. Keith Olbermann had a misguided take, for example:

It's not his fault.* The media coverage around this has been deeply mediocre. With the exception, as usual, of the NYTimes piece (and here's their Wikipedia feed), nobody reported two essential facts:

  1. Contentious wikipedia articles are edited every hour of the day. Anonymous edits are always suspect. Any edit that looks unproductive (like deleting an entire section without comment) gets reverted immediately -- as, indeed, these edits were.

    This side of the story would have required some actual reporting (digging to see how the edits influenced the later article), and reporting means boots on the ground, which means payroll.

  2. "Anonymous" wikipedia contributors are actually the only editors that aren't allowed to be anonymous. As soon as you choose a WP username, your IP address stops being shown.

Sure, those aren't the most important elements of the story. But not including them anywhere in the article? Pull up your socks.

* Note to Olbermann: Edward R. Murrow was a journalist, not an anchor.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A cat piano or Katzenklavier (German) is a hypothetical musical instrument consisting of a line of cats fixed in place with their tails stretched out underneath a keyboard. Nails would be placed under the keys, causing the cats to cry out in pain when a key was pressed. The cats would be arranged according to the natural tone of their voices.

The instrument was described by German physician Johann Christian Reil (1759-1813) for the purpose of treating patients who had lost the ability to focus their attention. Reil believed that if they were forced to see and listen to this instrument, it would inevitably capture their attention and they would be cured (Richards, 1998).

Monday, August 20, 2007