Tag results

Bug 23223: Developers (and WMF Staff) need way out of Europe

I thought I saw this on Planet Wikimedia, but it must have only been on identi.ca. Bug 23223 is a good read for those involved/interested in wmcon, the chapters, board and developers meeting just past in Berlin, Germany. As we all know, the Wikiepdias is srs biznis!

18 April, 2010 •


☍ Links for 2009-06-23

Well it is conference season…

23 June, 2009 • ,

Comment [1]

Wikisource at a law conference and other ☍ links for 2009-06-20

Via Open Access News: a chap called Tim Armstrong at a conference for law school computing called Crowdsourcing and Open Access v2.0: Harnessing the Power of Peer Production to Disseminate Historical Records and Legal Scholarship:

This presentation expands the inquiry [of “[enlisting] anonymous collaborators online to help make legal research materials freely available”] to consider whether crowdsourcing tools can aid in the dissemination of historical records and, of particular interest to law faculty, legal scholarship.

[…] I will use two examples drawn from Wikisource, an open-access library of public domain (or freely licensed) works, to illuminate the power of “crowdsourced” efforts to archive and distribute historical and scholarly works. First, I will highlight the efforts of the Wikisource community to digitize, and make available in full text, the earliest volume of the United States Statutes at Large, a work not freely available anywhere else online. Second, by way of “walking the talk,” I will discuss my recent experiment in disseminating my own legal scholarship by the same means, yielding a product that seems superior in a number of respects to more familiar large-scale scholarly repositories such as SSRN.

Neat, eh? Slides are also available. And Tim also put up one of his own papers that he licensed under CC-BY-SA — it’s called “Fair Circumvention” and you can check it out as a PDF or as a Wikisource document or of course in a side by side comparison. Tim is also an admin on Wikisource.

Wikisource bills itself as an “online library of free content publications”, but that seems to me to be a vast understatement that doesn’t capture what’s special about it.

Wikisource, as far as I know (which is not very far, and I will happily accept corrections here), relies heavily on the file format Djvu (pronounced “deja vu”) and a MediaWiki extension called Proofread Page. “DjVu is a computer file format designed primarily to store scanned images, especially those containing text and line drawings. It features advanced technologies such as image layer separation of text and background/images, progressive loading, arithmetic coding, and lossy compression for bitonal images. This allows for high quality, readable images to be stored in a minimum of space, so that they can be made available on the web.” (So reports this example — Alice in Wonderland.) So Djvu is kind of like a version of PDF that’s been uber-enhanced for scanned text.

English Wikisource seems to lack a help page that explains its basic operations in a single page. Especially with screenshots. Or did I miss it?

Peter Suber pointed out the similarity between this idea and Open Medicine’s idea of simultaneously publishing articles in HTML and “wiki” (previously mentioned on this blog), but I think that is slightly different, as I believe Open Medicine intended to encourage further collaboration on the work, whereas Wikisource transcribes PDFs, but with the intention of staying faithful to the original. If you want to keep editing it, perhaps it’s time to move it to Wikibooks/Wikisource?

I like the idea of using a wiki as a repository, whether or not you intend to allow further editing, but I’m just concerned that MediaWiki syntax is not standardised and you get just getting locked in to another platform. Template proliferation may be another problem.

And, elsewhere:

21 June, 2009 • ,


☍ Links for 2009-06-13

Some of this is new, a bit of it is quite old, ‘cause I do my link roundups by hand…

[O]ne core fundamental of the ASF which is often misunderstood is the idea of “community over code”.

Some people take this to mean is that as long as the community is healthy, then it doesn’t matter whether the code is good or not. This is, of course, total crud. The phrase does not mean that at all, nor is that the intent of the ASF as well. Instead, the slogan refers to a basic truth that has long been proven, time and time again within the ASF (and elsewhere); That a healthy community creates world-class code. It also implies the necessary corollary: That unhealthy communities do not create sustainable world-class code. The key word is “sustainable”.

[…] A healthy community fosters and creates good, viable, sustainable code. Ergo: community over code.

This is a very interesting experiment. The HTML and PDF versions of the peer-reviewed OM articles are not publicly editable, and will always be available for reading or reference no matter what users do to the modifiable version on the wiki. That should answer any worries that wikification will degrade quality. Now the question is whether wikification will improve quality.

This quality ratchet is a simple idea with significant consequences. It should enable riskfree experimentation with all sorts of Web 2.0 innovations, social networking, and collaborative research and writing. Some will fail to add value. That doesn’t matter. The point is not that all experiments will succeed but that this simple idea frees us to experiment.

14 June, 2009 •


☍ Links for 2009-03-09

Some of these are quite old, but I’ve been meaning to post them for ages…

09 March, 2009 •

Comment [1]

☍ Links for 2009-01-25

Some nice things showed up in my feed reader while I was at LCA.

25 January, 2009 • , ,


☍ Links for 2008-11-06

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

If you use Wikipedia daily then you could not fail to notice that the fundraiser has started. And if you remember previous fundraisers you could not fail to notice how much more slick this one is. It’s definitely much better than last year, when marquee text and little green people silhouettes on a salmon background proved kind of… baffling. The message this time is much simpler and more direct.

I just await, like each time, messages that are not Wikipedia-centric…pretty strange to have a banner saying how great Wikipedia is while you are viewing Wikibooks or Wikinews.

If you are considering donating I encourage you to check out the recently published WMF Annual Report. It’s worth it just for the centre pages that have an annotated picture of a Wikipedia article, explaining just how much work goes on in the background.

Other stuff:

No Clean Feed - Stop Internet Censorship in Australia

06 November, 2008 • ,

Comment [4]

☍ Data-scraping Wikipedia with Google Spreadsheets

Forgot this one, but the title says it all. And jam it into a Yahoo Pipe, too! This is so neat. I am more and more impressed with Google Spreadsheets. Oh, and FWIW the API couldn’t handle this. (via waxy.org)

17 October, 2008 • ,


☍ Causes, books and other links for 2008-10-16

This “☍” “linky” symbol is something I picked up from Josh Bancroft to denote “linkblog” posts, ie. posts that are basically just sharing links with some small commentary. I think it is a neat convention.

16 October, 2008 • , ,

Comment [2]

Links for 2008-08-13

13 August, 2008 •

Comment [1]

Links for 2008-04-13

Tidbits from the mailing lists:

And elsewhere:

13 April, 2008 •


Links for 2008-04-06

Click here to lend your support to: Support the Libre Graphics Meeting and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !

05 April, 2008 • , ,

Comment [2]

Links for 2008-03-30

(go kiwi accents. direct link)

30 March, 2008 • ,

Comment [2]

Links for 2008-03-18

This is a preview of what the Commons upload form may look like one of these days… if I have anything to do with it :)

Things to note:

I love this form :) Try it yourself, if you’re logged in at Commons.

18 March, 2008 • , , ,

Comment [4]

Links for 2008-03-15

(or link)

15 March, 2008 • ,

Comment [2]

Links for 2008-03-04

(Correction: not enabled on test.wikipedia. try this random testwiki.)


(via cc-au)

04 March, 2008 • , , , ,


Links for 2008-03-02

“It’s much more about gaining an audience than about some one-to-one correlation,” he said. “It’s a question of how do you find new writers.” People often come to new authors in a library, on a friend’s bookshelves, or by a personal recommendation, he explained. It “doesn’t always begin with a financial transaction. I very much doubt that I discovered a single one of my favourite authors by buying a book.”

Which licenses are being used for Wikimedia projects, and why? The transition of the Wikipedia project to Creative Commons licenses on the global and local level. Presentations of the less known Wikimedia projects: Wikisource – what it is the purpose of Wikisource, how it works, the history of Wikisource … And, of course, the issues of licensing on Wikisource.

I can imagine the Wikisource/licensing discussion would be very interesting (to those of us who have found ourselves to be license geeks, that is).

02 March, 2008 •


Links for 2008-02-21

© skenmy, CC-BY

21 February, 2008 • , , , , , , ,


Links for 2007-02-13

#1: The Queensland government is working on releasing a bunch, or maybe even all, public service data under Creative Commons license(s). From the chap in charge of their licensing project:

We are progressing broadly towards an open access outcome ultimately not only in relation to geospatial (ie mapping) information (much of which in Queensland resides in the Department of Natural Resources and Water) but all types of information and data created and held by government departments and agencies.

At the same time, governments clearly need to be careful about issues such as confidentiality, privacy and certain legislative restrictions.

We think at present that about 15% or so of public sector information (PSI) is affected by these limitations but this leaves the vast bulk available for potential use in combination with open content licences such as CC licences.

Pretty awesome! Can’t wait to see how it progresses.

#2: DBpedia has announced the release of their 3.0 downloads. DBpedia claims that it “is a community effort to extract structured information from Wikipedia and to make this information available on the Web. DBpedia allows you to ask sophisticated queries against Wikipedia and to link other datasets on the Web to Wikipedia data.”

#3: WMF has released its finance report for 2006-2007.

Was going to mention Women Who Tech but it’s not quite my topic. :) Although they are having a session on women in open source.

13 February, 2008 • ,


Links for 2007-02-04

04 February, 2008 • , , ,


Links for 2008-02-01

The Queensland Spatial Information Council seems like the appropriate government site but I don’t have the patience right now to find any document announcing any such release. Maybe it hasn’t happened yet…

At any rate, it sounds impressively progressive for a government body!

01 February, 2008 • , , ,


Links for 14-01-2008

Grab bag of links, some of them are not new but just new to me.

In short, you cannot stop file sharing with any less than undoing digital communications and/or monitoring all of it. The Internet was created as the world’s largest copying machine, as the makers of Steal This Film II put it so succinctly. File sharing happens simply because it is possible, as sharing knowledge and culture has always been, although with different media.

What really upsets me, though, is how politicians are humming along with the copyright industry’s every demand. The industry lobby is just doing their job, basically: demanding better conditions for their industry, at the expense of other parts of society. It is the politicians which have failed abysmally at understanding the big picture of their demands.

And from the mailing lists:

  1. Bogotá (Colombia, South America)
  2. Toronto (Ontario, Canada)
  3. Kathmandu (Kathmandu, Nepal)
  4. Buenos Aires (Argentina, South America)
  5. Brisbane (Queensland, Australia)
  6. Karlsruhe (Germany, Europe)

Of these, Bogotá, Kathmandu, Karlsruhe and Brisbane will be knocked out quickly. That leaves as serious bids, Toronto and Buenos Aires.

Toronto has 16 people signed up on its bid page as organisers, although it’s hard to tell how committed they really are. Buenos Aires has Wikimedia Argentina behind it, which should be good for organisational reasons. Argentinians also seem to love open source so it would be a good fit. Whoever wins, the North Americans will be happy, since although Toronto would be a lot cheaper airfare than Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires would still be in the realm of reasonableness, and other costs such as accommodation could be expected to be lower. Whichever way it goes, they both look like competent bids, so best of luck.

PS, if you use del.icio.us, please feel free to share me interesting links. :)

14 January, 2008 • ,


Free content roundup, 2007-12-18

Well, news is creating itself faster than one can write it down within Wikimedia at the moment, but I have no interesting comments to make yet so here are some pointers to interesting free content stuff happening elsewhere.

18 December, 2007 • ,


Links for 17-11-2007

17 November, 2007 •


Philip Greenspun illustration project and misc. notes

(Jimmy caption contest?) © Philip Bachmann, CC-BY-2.5


Is anyone else refreshing Wikimedia pages all the time just to read new donor quotes? It’s a cool way of keeping Wikimedians interested – who have to see the banners more than anyone else, after all. Despite some initial hiccups, it now seems to be going very smoothly and the video is helping to get quite a bit of interest. But the burning question remains unanswered – do pick-up lines from Wikipedia actually work?! (Perhaps he meant Wikiquote?)


Apparently a Flickr image of mine has been used in something called Schmap!! Melbourne. It’s like Google maps + Flickr geotagged images + tourist writeups. It’s not a particularly interesting or good image, but it does have half the word “Melbourne” in it. That counts for something I suppose.


Audiophile, an “audio portal/listening library”, was announced a few weeks ago, and is looking for contributors, especially “young and emerging producers”. Their default license is CC-BY-NC-SA. Sigh.

Libre Graphics Meeting

The third Libre Graphics Meeting is being held in Wrocław, Poland in May 2008. It’s “free to attend, and open to all”. I know there are some talented and dedicated SVG editors at Wikimedia Commons, so I certainly hope some of them will be representing. :)

Wikijunior roundup

Randy Wilson wrote an interesting round-up of Wikijunior, a project within Wikibooks to create children’s books. Their work is different to most Wikimedia projects, in that their intended audience would not be the ones writing the material.


My submission for LCA’s LinuxChix miniconf, “Who’s Behind Wikipedia?”, was accepted. That will be January 29th, 2008. The idea for it came about when I went to the Freebase meetup and we ended up talking about people’s experiences editing Wikipedia. The good thing is that the audience is geeks, so I won’t have to explain the FLOSS/free-content ethos, or “what is a wiki”, or even “what is Wikipedia”. Likely many geeks have edited Wikipedia at some time, even if it’s just correcting typos. But unless you follow it all closely I imagine it can be difficult to tell what’s consensus and what’s cabal. :) And there are likely to be the odd few that, as Wikipedia Weekly say, “know their RfA from their AfD”, so that will keep me on my toes.

Maybe in the future we could be organised enough to hold a wiki/freecontent miniconf.

A picture is worth a thousand words: the Philip Greenspun illustration project

The Wikimedia Foundation has officially announced their approval of a substantial donation by Mr Greenspun for the specific purpose of funding the creation of illustrations. This is the first time the Foundation has been involved in funding content creation, although related groups like the German chapter have held similar kinds of projects. I’m going to be co-ordinating the project, which is both exciting and scary. If it goes well, it will likely open the door to future “targeted donations” and content creation projects. If it goes well, it will get new people involved in a really global SVG editing community that is open, growing and self-supporting. If it goes well, complex and fundamental topics will gain world-class illustrations to rival any “visual dictionary” or “children’s encyclopedia” and the like. What’s more, those illustrations will be able to be translated with nothing more than a text editor. And they will be free to the world to use however they like.

There are two ways it could go poorly. One way is due to lack of interest, which would be disappointing but not disastrous. The other way is spectacular failure, where the introduction of money into a previously volunteer-only cycle reduces or ruins the motivation of those contributors.

It will be careful path to walk, but we’ll never know if we don’t try.

PS, donate. :)

03 November, 2007 • , , , , ,


Bits & bobs/is shared vision more important than a specific license?

Heather Ford recently posted an update on iCommons which led to a Declaration on Open Education. She made this comment:

The fact that the first, great draft of the ‘Cape Town Open Education Declaration’ has already been circulated, the fact that its impact was not ‘watered down’ by this “dispute” [about NC or not NC], and the fact that this group has recognised that standing together in our shared vision of what education should look like in the future is more important than the (important but less important) differences of opinion about copyright licences. This is a conclusion that I had long ago but didn’t know how to express: this movement has very little to do with copyright and everything to do with people; it has very little to do with being free to share content and everything to do with sharing perspectives and fellowship.

Hmmm. I don’t know how to feel about this. I would like to be convinced on this point. But currently each time I see some cool new project launched under CC-BY-NC my heart sinks a little. I don’t see a way around the conclusion that the Creative Commons NC clause especially creates a divide among content that maybe could have been avoided. If CC educated people more about how damaging a NC clause can be. If CC helped let individuals see their place in a long and evolved tradition of free culture. Maybe if CC didn’t offer it at all in the first place….

And when I read about someone who wants to release a ‘free software library’ under BY-ND terms I really think, someone missed the boat here… how did we let that happen?

23 October, 2007 • , , , ,


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