Photo: Flickr user lifeontheedge

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Mary Tofts (born c. 1701) was a maidservant from Godalming, England, who in 1726 became the subject of considerable controversy when she hoaxed doctors into believing that she had given birth to at least sixteen rabbits.

Erik Moller is on the wikimedia board; his blog has been pretty interesting lately.

For starters, LiquidThreads is sort of a cross between a wiki and a discussion forum. And why is Wikipedia a natural ally of the rest of the open-source movement, anyway?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

If you're pissed off at Apple, you could buy a Wikipedia Think Free poster. Proceeds benefit the Foundation. (And I did the graphic design.)

Atmospheric beasts (also sky beasts or sky critters) are organisms which could hypothetically exist within the atmosphere of Earth or other planets. These could fly (or float) without wings as they weigh less than air. See also: Extremophile, Astrobiology.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Aokigahara(青木ヶ原), also called the Sea of Trees, is a forest at the base of Mount Fuji. The caverns found in this forest are rocky and ice-covered, even during summertime. It is an old forest haunted by many legends of monsters, ghosts, and goblins, which add to its sinister reputation.

Creative Commons is being sued!

If you're not a geek, here's some background:

By default, anything anyone writes is copyrighted with All Rights Reserved to the author. If it weren't for alternative licenses that let authors release some rights back to the public, Wikipedia would be completely impossible (so would Linux).

This sounds boring, but Creative Commons is actually tremendously important because it writes and produces these licenses. Wikipedia predates Creative Commons and doesn't use its licenses. It uses the GFD License instead, which was originally intended for software documentation and is craptastic in several ways but impossible to get rid of at this point.

Alright, the geeks can start reading again.

Update, 2007-10-9: The rest of this post is a bit of a stretch -- which is to say, I've changed my mind about the conclusion. It's preserved below, but just for history.

You might have heard part of this story already, but to recap:

1. Virgin Australia found an an ordinary, charming snapshot on Flickr. The photo used a creative commons license that allowed commercial use.

2. Virgin cropped and colored that photo into a kind-of-insulting, borderline-racist cell phone advertisement.

3. Without ever contacting the 15-year-old girl in the snapshot, Virgin put the ad up on billboards across Australia.

4. ProfitGet sued!

Which is all well and good. But now the girl's family is suing Creative Commons, too, for "not adequately informing" people what "license this photo for commecrial use" means.

Aside from the sheer communitarian spirit involved in suing a cash-strapped nonprofit organization that has taken unparalleled pains to make legal language useful and comprehensible to ordinary people, there's also some small possibility that a negative ruling could affect Wikipedia—and, really, anyone else who's trying to fix our grungy copyright system by making an end-run around it.

So thank you, Virgin, for being such complete jackasses that you've possibly (though this is still unlikely) set back an entire global collaborative intellectual movement.

Nono, really—thank you. From all of us.