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!
- Mako is keynoting LCA (January, Wellington). WOOT.
- There was a conference in Portland recently called Open Source Bridge and it looks like it was really freaking cool.
- Really cool looking event in Canberra this week, courtesy of Senator Lundy — Public Sphere 2 – Government 2.0 Includes the creation of a Government 2.0 Taskforce which will provide some advice and even some funding! From the event itself, a wiki-based outcomes document is yet to surface.
- The P2P Foundation blog is publishing some interview with Wikipedians & ex-Wikipedians this week:
- Michel Bauwens and Axel Bruns (Bauwens is AFAIK the main person behind the P2P Foundation. Bruns is an author and also keeps a blog ; he’s rather fond of the term produsage)
- ‘Cedric’ and Barry Kort (‘Cedric’ is from Wikipedia Review; Barry Kort is from MIT, and was involved in drama at en.wp as User:Moulton and has written a ‘Knol’ called The governance model of Wikipedia)
- Wikimania sneak peek! Since no announcement has been made, I’m not sure if we’re supposed to be able to see these yet or not…
- There’s an Open Education Conference being held in Canada during August 12-14. The speakers look pretty diverse, so if you’re interested in attending, check out how to apply for one of their travel scholarships.
Well it is conference season…
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.
- File sharing has not discouraged creativity. This will be no surprise to many people, including Julie Cohen, who spoke memorably at the Copyright Future: Copyright Freedom conference about “copyright & creativity”.
- The Open Video conference is on at the moment in New York. Of course, don’t worry if you can’t make it, because there will definitely be tons of video. :) The schedule looks interesting.
- The Global Watchtower blog (‘Globablization in Practice’) has written on LinkedIn’s mishandled attempt to ‘crowdsource’ translations. Essentially they emailed every LinkedIn user who had a word like ‘language’ or ‘linguist’ or ‘translator’ in their profile, and asked them to fill out a survey saying if they’d like to do translation for LinkedIn for free. Unsurprisingly that didn’t go down that well. However it’s great to see Global Watchtower present a nuanced understanding of what they call “CT3” (“community, crowdsourced, and collaborative translation”). I highly recommend this blog for anyone interested in developments in commercial language technology (especially translation technology news).
Some of this is new, a bit of it is quite old, ‘cause I do my link roundups by hand…
- Trending Topics is like an open source Wikirank (via)
- Stack Overflow is doing it right! They’ve released their programming Q&A data under the CC-BY-SA license, and made it available via bittorrent. I look forward to seeing the interesting results are found.
- Wow, MSM actually published an op-ed from someone sympathetic to Creative Commons! And an author no less!
- I previously mentioned a wiki that uses a skin to imitate Wikipedia (Monobook inspired); turns out MoinMoin also has such a theme.
- CommonTag is “a new tagging format that creates references to concretely defined concepts with their own metadata and URLs”. I have a sinking suspicion it is geeks trying to create the ontology of the world yet again. Didn’t anyone notice yet that we’re coping just fine without it? (via)
- The National Library of Australia has released its SBDS Prototype — “Explore Australian collections and worldwide online sources”. Looks like a great way to find sources and references on Australian topics. (via)
- An interesting old (Dec 2007) post called Why Community Matters by ‘JimJag’, co-founder and current chair of the Apache Software Foundation (substitute ‘content’ for ‘code’ below and see if you think it’s true for Wikipedia):
[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.
- Hitler ‘Downfall’ parody for copyright geeks
- An open access journal called Open Medicine is publishing selected articles in its Open Medicine wiki. Peter Suber commented:
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.
- Kate Lundy is hosting an event on 22nd June, called Government 2.0: Policy and Practice for Australia (see also this post)
- Oh and two days later is Web 2.0 in government in Sydney! Lots of talking… let’s hope we see some action too.
Some of these are quite old, but I’ve been meaning to post them for ages…
- Perspectives on Open Data: Workshop on the Re-use of Government-held Non-personal Data, a panel at the recent Webstock tech conference in New Zealand. This is a great write-up — a summary transcript, with embedded and downloadable audio (in OGG no less!!). I love this quote — “If the government releases data into the public domain it gives up control of how the data is used, but it doesn’t give up its authority.” That’s exactly it.
- JWKTL is “a Java-based API that enables efficient programmatic access to the information contained in the English and German language editions of Wiktionary”. As far as I can tell it is basically an implementation of the Wiktionary “community API”. That is, encoding in a machine-readable way, that “this certain template” means “this certain linguistic thing” (e.g. part of speech). As I have previously opined, formalising community APIs in some fashion is vital to us fulfilling our goals of spreading such information to as wide an audience as possible. The current need for every re-user to “roll their own” version of a community-standards-decoder, is limiting the reusability of the Wikimedia projects’ content. However, the makers of JWKTL have only offered their software for “non-profit and non-commercial use” which is deeply disappointing. Non-free software to work with free data? If it was a proper open-source project it would probably have contributors for every other language edition of Wiktionary by now — not just English and German.
- I have had a user account at Translatewiki (formerly Betawiki) for a while now, having not done much with it. They send me mail every month or so to let me know what’s going on. I was so impressed by the Februrary newsletter. IMO they are just nailing that news-releasing and contributor-gathering function so well. The stats are awesome. Listing the top languages and contributors is a brilliant idea. What is usually a dull and out of date function — translating — they make into a vibrant and fun community. So mega kudos, I am really impressed with that newsletter!
- Open Access Day has now become Open Access Week! It’s not til October, so you have a good few months to figure out what your university can do to celebrate and support it.
- News story from ZDNet, Vic Govt limited Google’s bushfire map — Google points out the sad irony Wikimedians are already aware of — it’s easier to get (legal) satellite imagery of Australia from the US government than it is from the Australian one
- Proposal for a universal language icon – for that “change/select language” function. I dunno; I’m still waiting to see the universal edit button catch on
- Check out this awesome PediaPress bookmarklet — you can use it to make a PediaPress book (ODF/PDF) from any MediaWiki, whether or not they have Extension:Collection installed. And collect articles across different wikis!! (It just doesn’t like it too much if they happen to have the same name.) Way too cool.
- Lastly, something that made me look twice: Is that a MediaWiki?? For all the (deserved) discussion on MediaWiki’s usability, I’ve not yet seen a better demonstration of just how much familiarity is a part of usability. Guess they’re using the PmWiki Monobook skin. How many other wiki engines have Monobook-inspired skins?
Some nice things showed up in my feed reader while I was at LCA.
- Really nice Wikibooks screencast of the PediaPress Collections extension in action. (This extension lets you select any set of pages to produce a PDF, and if you like buy a printed copy.) (via Wikibooks News)
- Kevin Kelly has a new essay called Better than owning where he concludes, “Access is better than ownership.” “As they gain in public accessibility, books, music and movies are headed to become social goods even though they might not be paid by taxes” — well, not if TPTB have anything to do with it. (via waxy.org)
- GotGastro.com: “a Google Maps mashup of the NSW Food Authority’s name-and-shame lists.” What an awesome idea (and name!). It’s open source, too. See the cool things that open access to PSI can produce? (via Collaborynth)
- Viral Spiral: How the Commoners Built a Digital Republic of Their Own is a new book purporting to be a history of the free culture movement. You can buy it for $ or download it for free (according to the PDF it is under CC-BY-NC, although I didn’t see a notice for that on the website). (via James Boyle)
- Another book of interest: Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software is available online as CC-BY-NC-SA. What is particularly awesome is that is has been published with something called CommentPress (note: site currently seems to be down, but see here for more info). CommentPress gives you per-paragraph commenting (almost annotating — like scribbling in the margins, really). (via Open Access News)
- Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge looks like an extremely comprehensive collection of essays on, well, what the title says. It’s licensed CC-BY-NC-ND. (via Open Access News)
- Free the facts! is a neat set of cartoons written on index cards, explaining the current situation with regards to publishing of scientific research, and thus the need for the open access movement.
It’s licensed CC-BY-NC-SA. (via Open Access News)
- The University of Europe: accessible to all is a brief article in the Guardian, talking about European adoption of open content/open courseware. (via Open Access News)
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.
- A great blog post by Nic Suzor explaining in detail what changes the new GFDL v1.3 holds, and relicensing will work for Wikimedia.
- A Research Repository has been launched for Open Educational Resources (OERs). (This is for research about OERs. For a collection of actual OERs, check out OER Commons.)
- It’s a good week for podcasts — autonomo.us has an interview with Jimmy Wales about why Wikia Search will be important for a free internet ecology, and Wikipedia Weekly has its usual roundtable after a moderate hiatus.
- One of the issues Liam mentions in the WW podcast is the proposed mandatory “filtering” of all Australian internet access at the ISP level. (Until recently the government had been giving the impression that it would be completely opt-out-able.) If you’re Australian, please consider writing a letter or two against this plan, which is wrong-headed and technically doomed not to mention a dangerous possibility for gross abuse in the future, should it actually go ahead. Check out No Clean Feed for more info.
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)
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.
- Creative Commons is having its annual fundraiser. There is a great video with it called A Shared Culture. Gosh, having creative types on hand must be nice. :)
- October 14, 2008 was the first ever Open Access Day. The open access movement is something I imagine most Wikimedians would support without hesitation. It is another essential piece in the puzzle of the world we are building with Wikipedia and her sisters. If you are curious but don’t know where to start, I can’t recommend highly enough the Open Access News blog by Peter Suber. It’s pretty high volume, so you might just want to read it with an eye for stories relating to your country.
- It seems to be the season for wiki books: along with the recently released How Wikipedia Works, O’Reilly has recently released a MediaWiki book (featuring pretty butterflies on the cover). It has an amusing review quote from Rob Church: “This book is filled with practical knowledge based on experience. It’s not just spouting some party line.” What would the MediaWiki “party line” be? It’s had no marketing to speak of. About the only one I can think of would be, “We developed this for Wikipedia, and if you happen to find it useful for your own purposes, good for you.” (Rob has not been a MediaWiki developer for nearly a year, which makes me wonder a little how up to date this book will be.) Brion is also quoted as saying, “A good book! It’s a nice overview […]” which is not what I would call glowing, but I suppose his title was the golden touch they were looking for… (via Eugene)
- via Axel Bruns I found out that there are several sessions on wikis at the Association of Internet Researchers conference currently being held at the University of Copenhagen. The conference website has their programme wrapped up in a PDF, so I copied them out below. According to Axel the first two involved user studies, which would be interesting to read. I wonder if all these authors are subscribed to wiki-research-l??
- Timme Bisgaard Munk: Why Wikipedia: Self-efficacy, Self-recognition and the Lexical Impulse in a Knowledge-Political Battle for an Egalitarian Epistemology
- Hichang Cho, MeiHui Chen: Knowledge-sharing Motivations of Contributors in Online Wiki Communities: An Integrated Framework of Theory of Planned Behaviour, Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations
- Rut Jesus: Analyzing, Using and Evaluating New tools for Investigating Community, Cooperation and Disturbed Cognition in Wiki Articles
- Thanomwong Poorisat, PeiQi Chen, Helen Nofrina, Vani Viswanathan, Marko M Skoric: Why do we trust Wikis?…
- The National Library of Australia has a beta service of its “Historic Australian Newspapers” (1803 to 1954) digitisation program. Newspapers published in Australia before 1955 are public domain. It has a pretty flexible interface and search function which is great. See, for example, quaint historical cigarette advertising. You can check out the tag cloud, create an account and improve the OCRed text, or leave comments. (via WP:AWNB)
- Did WikiMindMap already do the rounds and I missed it? I’m not sure. (via kattekrab)
- vi.sualize.us is like del.icio.us for images. I’m going to try it. Wouldn’t it be neat if there was like, an open source version of that, and we ran it for all Wikimedia users, with automatic logon, and you could tag your favourite Commons images?
Yeah, I know I’m dreaming… :)
Tidbits from the mailing lists:
- RfC: What should the WMF Research Goals be? Got some nifty ideas? Make sure you add them.
- Board meeting report from Florence.
- I muted a few mailing list threads recently. I highly recommend this practice for the sake of your sanity, but at the same time if anyone feels like summarising one or two in a breezy but fair(ish) way, that would be neat.
- The Nambour Chronicle and North-Coast Advertiser, of the Queensland Sunshine Coast, has released “the entire full text run of this newspaper from 1903 to 1955”. [Although I note that by “full text” they actually mean “you can download a PDF of a page”, which is good, but not text as such.] You have to register to download pdfs, but it’s free. What a fantastic resource for researching Australian history! I remember scanning through microfilm in my university library’s basement… this is going to be a real improvement! (via)
- Images for the future – A Dutch mob whose goal is maximum availability of the audiovisual material to everyone. Cool. They just this weekend held a “working conference” called Economies of the Commons: Strategies for Sustainable Access and Creative Reuse of Images and Sounds Online. Hm, I wonder if any Wikimedians took part in this… (via)
- Where to Find Open Data on the Web from ReadWriteWeb
- LearnSVG ebook is now a free (as in beer) download, available in English and French. It’s quite technical and contains about a million zip archives inside zip archives, for some reason.
- The Libre Graphics Meeting, to be held in Poland in May, is looking for some financial help, with a deadline: $20k by 18th April. If you think kindly of GIMP and Inkscape, please donate to help out their development if you can, or else, pass the word on to someone else who might be able to help.
- Creative Commons continues their active engagement with the Wikimedia community in moving through the CC-BY-SA migration checklist and releasing a draft statement of intent for CC-BY-SA. It seems pretty awesome. I will be interested to read any major complaints.
The checklist came out of Wikimedian discussions about “Wikipedia migrating to CC-BY-SA” or as I came to think of it, “equivalentising” the GFDL and CC-BY-SA.
- Not The Wikipedia Weekly is well-buoyed and already up to Episode 6. I haven’t yet caught up with four and five, but they don’t have nearly as much drama.
After listening to it: Wow, you’d hardly recognise them. Unfortunately this episode is far too whiny and boring. Strong critiques of Wikipedia’s malaises by participants able to refrain from hyperbole and name-calling appear to remain the domain of Wikipedia Weekly.
WW seems somewhat invigorated through by the appearance of its non-rival, with three episodes in five weeks and the promise of more to come very soon.
- Wikimania 2008 scholarship applications are now open. Oddly there is no closing date for them yet. (If you are contemplating attending, here’s a hint when checking out airfare costs: be sure to check for flight to Cairo, not Alexandria. Cairo to Alexandria is three hours by train and flying to CAI instead of ALY will likely be a huge bundle cheaper.)
- Freebase commits to 3-monthly database dumps. Congrats, Freebase – this decision combined with your copyright policy makes you officially cool in the free culture world. My previous concerns are assuaged. Let’s do great things.
(go kiwi accents. direct link)
- Has anyone ever seen Semapedia out and about in the real world?
- WMF Advisory Board member Teemu is giving a talk at the Helsinki Media Conference called Wikimedia – Media for All.
- Wikimania 2009 will be in Buenos Aires. Congrats to Wikimedia Argentina. I am happy that this beautiful artwork will serve a purpose!
- Not the Wikipedia Weekly has arrived at Episode 3., in four parts. The first three parts are mostly talking to Sue Gardner, the WMF Executive Director. The last part contains some excellent discussion with Mark Pellegrini about scientists, journals, copyright, Wikipedia, free science and free culture.
- MediaWiki Easter egg hunt: There’s a SUL pilot coming up! (I confess I stumbled across something SUL-like in my Commons prefs last week, and now it is gone.)
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:
- separate fields for separate pieces of info
- pop-up tooltips (one pointed at), providing extra information about what info is expected, without crowding out the form
- categories are added via HotCat, which means you don’t have to know the name of the category before you start uploading (!)
- the license preview is also provided via a tooltip, so you don’t get the annoying “jump” of the default form (licenses also tend to take up rather a lot of space, and a tooltip can be dismissed, unlike a preview)
- there’s now a preview button for the whole page (unfortunately not the actual image — that will require MediaWiki hacking directly — but all the text)
I love this form :) Try it yourself, if you’re logged in at Commons.
- WikiSym submissions are now open (see events for more upcoming stuff)
- There’s now a German version of Where do users go after the main page?
- AboutUs appear to be creating a video FAQ of how to perform common wiki tasks, and demonstrating particular wiki software functions. This is a great idea. Screencasts — seeing someone perform some function — are a million times better than reading a text description of it. Below is the one about how to use the history tab. (Note free licenses…)
- The FLOSS Posse is soon running a Wikiversity course, Composing free and open online educational resources. The course is for “teachers and teacher-students who do not have prior knowledge or skills related to free and open education resources.” Participants will have to write blog posts as part of the course, and their posts will be corralled together at the jaiku channel #oercourse (you don’t need a jaiku account to subscribe to the feed).
- “action=edit” has been added to the MediaWiki API! At the moment it’s only enabled on the test wikipedia, so bot and tool authors should get busy giving it a workout. Very exciting! (via wikitech-l)
(Correction: not enabled on test.wikipedia. try this random testwiki.)
- This is brill: become a Public domain donor!
“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.”
- There is now an English Wikipedia database dump! Hoorah.
- Next week there is a Creative Commons Salon in Serbia (which you will now find in the free culture calendar). There is one Wikimedia-related panel session with Nikola Smolenski and Dragan Sataric of Wikimedia Serbia:
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).
- Adam Hyde was interviewed on Radio New Zealand National about FLOSS Manuals (after some diversion about radio signals at the start). Kiwis have nice radio accents. :) I’m not sure what format “asx” is, but if you download this file, VLC can play it.
- Actively solicit book donations
- Look for “friends” and “partners”
- Focused collaborations
- Stable versions
- Make inroads into the classroom
- Core subjects
- Documentation and Usability
- Australia set to give the go-ahead for Creative Commons licensing, The Guardian (hey, I did mention that)
- The idea of a “New York City Free Culture Alliance” was floated on foundation-l, which sounds pretty awesome to me. I hope it goes ahead.
- Sydney has been selected to host FOSS4G 2009 (that’s “free & open source software for geospatial”). It will be “the seventh ‘formal’ gathering of the open source geospatial community and is expected to focus on the increasing importance of FOSS4G in the public and private enterprise”.
- Freebase, which I have mentioned previously, have announced the release of WEX (‘Freebase Wikipedia Extraction’). “The wiki markup for each article is transformed into machine-readable XML, and common relational features such as templates, infoboxes, categories, article sections, and redirects are extracted in tabular form. Freebase WEX is provided as a set of database tables in TSV format for PostgreSQL, along with tables providing mappings between Wikipedia articles and Freebase topics, and corresponding Freebase Types.” It’s not clear what date is on the Wikipedia dump they’ve used. But it could be a fun toy.
- Would-Be Wikipedia Replacements Stumble, discusses Veropedia and Citizendium, concluding, “[M]y recommendation is to quit wasting time trying to create a parallel database outside of Wikipedia. Instead, work within Wikipedia. Fix its articles and label them as such. It’s a win-win situation: You achieve your goal of improving Wikipedia but in a way that people will actually use.” Hm, somehow I don’t think Veropedians or ‘Citizens’ will see it that way. (The author opens with the charge that “they are now almost useless” which is a good indication he doesn’t have the same understanding of their lifespan and purpose as contributors. I think Wikipedia was also “almost useless” in 2002.)
- Document Freedom Day has now been announced for 26 March. It will “provide a global rallying point for Document Liberation and Open Standards.” It’s intended to be a counter-point to Software Freedom Day. (You can find it now in the free culture calendar, natch.)
- A Wikipedia Selection for schools DVD was produced for 2007, now suggestions are sought for additions or updates for the 2008 edition.
- Creative Commons now mark their free licenses with a seal designating them as ‘Approved for Free Cultural Works'. Although I find the seal itself a bit naff it’s a good concept.
- Finally, Wikinews brings you the latest in hot wiki wear, for just those times when you need your gear to back up your command, “JOURNALIST – COMING THROUGH!”
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.
- OggSearch: Slick toolserver-based search specifically for Ogg audio and video on Commons. It also uses the plugin player so you can play directly from the results – without visiting the Commons page. Bryan = awesome. :)
- Seems like Commons finally has a media move/rename bot. About time…
- Durova has been working on a really cool encyclopedic image restoration project. Give her kudos, ideas and help! This kind of thing is a shining example of Wikimedia culture at its best.
- The Signpost has a useful brief WMF overview of 2007
- Wikitravel has announced Wikitravelpress. Congratulations to Evan and the communities he has facilitated.
- OMG, there’s a new skin! It’s pretty nice. I’m tempted to swap…
- Sue has started a trial of sending her reports to the Board to foundation-l as well. Awesome. See her report for late December. I have to say that since my last post about the institutional feeling at WMF being one that was closed and swirling with change, it has changed dramatically in the four odd weeks since then, largely thanks to how the Kaltura discussion was handled, this post from Sue and numerous initiatives from Florence. It’s very heartening. Although change is still very much in the air, it now feels so much more right.
- Open Educational Resources blogs, Wikibooks, Wikiversity, hint hint!
- It was mentioned at the FOSS geospatial BoF this afternoon (see previous post) that the Queensland government is releasing some data sets under “all Creative Commons licenses”, according to one attendee. This is allegedly to allow maximum reuse. I rather think CC-BY alone would do the job! I was really surprised I hadn’t heard of this before so I tried to dig up more information.
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!
Grab bag of links, some of them are not new but just new to me.
- GPS mapping court case n Singapore. ‘‘The central issue in the case is to what extent Virtual Map used SLA’s maps in creating its own maps.’‘ Could be a bad harbinger for friends such as Open Street Map (CC-BY-SA).
- Inkscape ‘about’ screen contests – awesome combination of coders and artists. Pity there’s no decent sized gallery.
- Interview with the founder of the Swedish Pirate Party. Quote:
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.
- BitNami ‘easy install’ MediaWiki package. Tempting. Anyone tried it?
- PublicDomainReprints.org. (For Wikisource they say ‘‘Take a look at PediaPress as an alternative.’‘ Since it’s all free content there’s nothing actually stopping them doing this as well, is there?)
- Some pretty MW skins. I assume they’re GPL?
And from the mailing lists:
- Interesting discussion on wikisource-l about different language Wikisources’ attitudes to scanned-texts-as-references.
- Excellent State of technology: 2007 summary by Domas Mituzas
- WMF staff update by Sue
- Looks like Wikimania 2009 bids are now closed.
- Bogotá (Colombia, South America)
- Toronto (Ontario, Canada)
- Kathmandu (Kathmandu, Nepal)
- Buenos Aires (Argentina, South America)
- Brisbane (Queensland, Australia)
- Karlsruhe (Germany, Europe)
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. :)
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.
- Some SVG-map thing has been released, but it requires Internet Explorer, is not freely licensed, is documented in Japanese, and the demo picture causes IE to crash. So that whole exercise ended up being far less interesting than I’d hoped. (Does anyone know if there’s any crossover between these people and ja.wp?) [via svg.org]
- The Open Translation Tools event was recently held in Zagreb, Croatia, hosted by Aspiration Tech who do some interesting things, and I think have some connection to the enterprise wiki engine Socialtext, although at this time I can’t figure out what that connection is. Anyway, I have been on the mailing list for it and been insanely jealous and not attending, because it seems like it was an incredibly cool and interesting bunch of people who attended. And relevant, I might mention, to the translation challenges Wikimedia features all over the place. Hopefully next time…
- Looking for open content medical image databases? Best start at the midr.org wiki for describing them, then. [via Peter Suber’s Open Access News]
- There is something called the International Open Source Network which is nonetheless based in Asia, and is somehow supported by the United Nations Development Programme and maybe other people too. And Lawrence Liang has written an open content primer for them. At 30-odd pages it’s not a light read, but it is very readable: it covers copyright myths, has historical anecdotes, a table comparing textbook prices in Indonesia to the United States (relativising the prices according to each country’s GDP, textbooks in Indonesia are roughly ten times as expensive compared to the US, so for an Indonesian buying a textbook that costs around $90 in the US, it is as if an American was paying over $1000 – how accessible is that education?). There is a case study comparing Wikipedia to some traditional fonts of knowledge. Overall it has an excellent global perspective so I think it is well worth a flick through; I doubt any Wikimedian would not learn something new from it. (And it’s CC-BY! :D) IOSN also has a collection of FOSS primers and if they are anything like this one they should be very useful. [via Open Access News]
- C-NET podcast: what’s a wiki? (actually from a month ago)
- “Wikis are lousy forums” – hell, yeah
- best for slow moving documents
- Wikia, fan wikis, town wikis
- MediaWiki; Socialtext, hosted wikis (Wetpaint, Pbwiki)
- Wiki customs (eg don’t create your own article)
- Who owns wiki content: they mistakenly say that by editing Wikipedia, you transfer copyright to Wikipedia (and Creative Commons, no less). Actually authors explicitly retain their copyright even when contributing to Wikipedia.
- Penny for your thoughts: comments on the fundraiser by Ethan Zuckerman (a member of the WMF Advisory Board, and OMG he cofounded Tripod! back in the day…)
- Creative Commons discussions on “what is NC?” are hopefully finally transferred into wiki format.
- SplashUp, web-based image editor via Flash, usable without registering. Pretty feature-filled, and in my quick play around seems fairly user-friendly and not too buggy. There are quite a lot of these around now.
(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.
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. :)
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. :)
- WikiSym finished today. I would have loved to have gone; I hope more reports from there filter through various blogs.
- She’s Geeky is also on and it’s another event I would have loved to attended, but sadly wrong hemipshere, wrong continent. Luckily Liz Henry is attending and blogging (and also doing a presentation on wikis I believe, pity there’s not more wikichix there).
- Another interesting event is Pop!Tech which has just wound up in Maine. Check out the dozens of ‘pop-casts’ that they’ve made available — it really makes a difference for “those following along at home”. If you watch a good one, let me know; Gerard recommended Erin McKean to me and she is funny, passionate, free-culture-literate and geeky. So really a cool person. :)
- Wikimedia Sweden is almost really official. Congratulations folks!
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?