I think Wikimedia Italia is not in the English Wikimedia ‘planet’ (although they are on identi.ca), so lest anyone miss this, I thought I must post it – it’s a video explaining and showing Wikimedia Commons (it has English subtitles):
This is so well done! Bravo WMIT. I can’t imagine how long it must have taken to plan the text and choose the images. The text is nicely concise, doesn’t belabour any points, and is quite comprehensive – from OTRS to Meet our photographers … I thought it was quite funny at first, seeing the narrator in the menu on the left, but it is a nice way to see him and also see lots of colourful images. :)
There is information about it in Italian on the Wikimedia Italia site.
Ben fatto, Wikimedia Italia!
This is a video that I took at the VITTA conference (Victorian IT Teachers Association). I was there giving a workshop about using Wikipedia in the classroom (session 1202), and Pia was there keynoting (1601 — the video above) and talking about OLPCs in Australia (1307)! She was also kind enough to let me license it CC-BY-SA.
While there I also caught up with Donna Benjamin (1207) and Pru Mitchell (1203) — we three had the bad fortune to all be scheduled in the same time slot. Although with 20 simultaneous sessions, it might not be avoidable.
By comparison with ACEC, this conference had a much better representation of open source software advocates amongst its speakers. The Linux Australia stand in the exhibition was getting excellent traffic throughout Monday.
My workshop went well; the first time I’ve done anything like that, but the participants seemed engaged enough. 50 minutes is not really long enough for anything substantial, and I think a better ratio than 1:20 would be more helpful, but it’s a start!
This is a video of a talk I gave at the November Linux Users of Victoria meeting called “Hacking MediaWiki (For Users)”, talking about ways to extend and modify MediaWiki on the “wiki side”, without need admin access to LocalSettings.php (and everything else). Preparing the talk inspired me to write about why I love MediaWiki.
It covers subpages, links, templates, categories, namespaces, special pages, modifying the interface, skins (CSS & JS), magic words, the Gadgets extension and the “uselang” hack. It’s basically for power-users, I would say.
Many thanks to Ben for the excellent quality recording. The audio in particular is very good. He also cut it down to size and uploaded it which are those annoying things that nobody particularly enjoys doing, so thankyou.
More cool than informative. :)
Looks like I fell off the NaBloPoMo wagon. Oh well! I think I can probably still make 30 posts this month.
I had a great, although tiring, day yesterday: I went to the AussieChix microconf event. AussieChix is the Australian arm of LinuxChix. The “microconf” was a one-day event simultaneously happening in Melbourne and Sydney, with speakers in both cities, connected via videoconferencing. Giant thanks to Mary and Alice for organising it, and Google Australia and their wonderful employees for donating their space, bandwidth and time to enable us to have this event.
I first got involved with LinuxChix not long after WikiChix was founded, I suppose. I was curious about this group that we were modelling on, and I was probably feeling more confident about exploring Linux. I really can’t speak highly enough about the Australian LinuxChix. They are some amazing women. Every single one of them is just doing really cool stuff. Whether they are quiet or boisterous, they are all really strong and each have their own way of not taking shit from other people. It’s like women-company nirvana for me. And that we all just utterly geek out is the icing on the cake. :)
Anyway enough raving. I gave a ~15 minute talk on “Wikipedia & the education system”. It’s not anything super polished, just some thoughts I have been having since I attended ACEC, the computers in education conference.
- Wikipedia is now internet furniture. [I may have forgotten to use this phrase in my talk, d’oh.] What are the effects of that for the education system?
- WP the product (encyclopedia – traditional, conservative) vs WP the process/project (massively collaborative authoring – radical, new)
- WP (the product) is like EB with uber-visible referencing. WP’s referencing is psuedo-academic — not used in exactly the same way as academics.
- Schools will have a responsibility to equip students with media literacy skills for processing and understanding this new method of authoring.
- Schools – ways of using WP – directly as content – http://schools-wikipedia.org – or indirectly – referencing projects, reviewing projects, analysing how WP works
- Teachers need to educate themselves about how it works – contacting WM chapters is a good way to go
- NSW HSC English has WP on the curriculum – “Global Villages” module
- Universities – more animosity because it’s seen as an affront to authority – also more inappropriate for students to use
- Universities should recognise and reward academics’ involvement in Wikipedia just as they recognise getting an article published in a high-prestige journal. (What is the impact factor of Nature vs WP?) Academics have a responsibility to communicate the importance and relevance of their work to the general public.
- Authoring assignments for uni students (ie “write a WP article”) – good bc greater impact, readership, motivation; potentially better “peer review”- bad bc have to learn wiki skills (software & community) as well as topic area; WPians can be rude, abrasive and wrong
- What WP needs to do
- improve SW for ease of use – Wikipedia is too important to have technical barriers that stop people from editing – WYSIWYG, blame colouring, more direct stats
- welcome and encourage collaboration – both onwiki and offwiki (again chapters, outreach, engagement)
- WPians will eventually enter the education system as teachers – already have many editors who are retired teachers – both editing WP, and teaching, attract people who love learning.
- 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…)
It all began (publicly) with a press release, mid-January. No, wait. The average Wikimedian would first have had the opportunity to hear of it via a Wikinews ‘leak’. That was about a week beforehand. A few days after the press release, Jay Walsh had what must have been a baptism of fire in making the announcement to the community.
So, mailing list firebomb. The main points of contention were
- Free file formats: Kaltura is essentially a Flash thingy at heart. Gnash was talked up in response.
- Commercial advantage: It is no surprise to anyone in Wikimedia that Wikimedians are edgy about advertising. This extends to anything that looks like undue commercial advantage. Kaltura is not what you would call subtle. Everything they do is Kaltura-branded and screams “FLASHY WEB2.0 THINGY”. Their whole aesthetic is quite antithetical to ours. It is offensive to a Wikipedian’s eye. There are similar alternatives which are more acceptable in this sense.
- Lack of clear advantage to Wikimedia: I doubt Flash-based glorified slideshow editing capability was at the top of anyone’s tech wishlist. Em, sure, seems like a potentially cool idea, but not pressing or vital. Viz Greg Maxwell:
In the future I hope the Foundation will first seek community input on technology partnerships: A flash slideshow editor isn’t anything anyone here has been asking for, as far as I can tell… But we have thousands of other widely desired features, many of which could have substantial external components ripe for partnership.
In the end these concerns were all more or less assuaged by, of all people, the developers. The replies went something like
- Kaltura would only be implemented on Wikimedia sites when it was completely free (ie, Gnash works).
- This partnership is non-exclusive, ie doesn’t preclude any others being made with similar partners.
- As for lack of clear benefit, all we are doing is lending our name – at this stage not even dev resources. If lending our name leads to cool stuff becoming open source, what’s to lose?
In another post Greg commented, I’m unhappy that despite prior discussions, staff is acting like people finding proprietary formats is a surprise. (Greg would not be the only one, here.)
In the end, everyone seems content enough with where we all stand, but really, we went through some serious drama to get there. Drama started by others (like, journalists) is one thing, but I don’t think it should be quite so difficult to spot which of WMF’s own announcements are going to be the fire starters.
So there you go, that’s my view of the Kaltura brouhaha.
Audio+slides from Jimmy Wales’ October 11 talk at the Stanford Law & Technology Association (SLATA). Apparently this is similar to a talk he gave at Wikimania but I must have missed it…
It’s interesting enough but it’s still all just theoretical. The real interest should come if it ever gets off the ground.
He talked a bit about news search results and someone asked a question about balance and the narrow spectrum of news that gets reported these days…Wales appears to have faith that a community of “Wikipedians” could get a better balance of news but looking at sites like Digg I have some doubt about it. Geeks can clearly do tech news well but beyond that I would prefer to rely on the editorial decisions of the ABC or the BBC. In fact it seems the more “participatory” news becomes the more shallow and celebrity-driven it becomes.
Ever had trouble explaining to a non wikiholic just what was so cool about using wikis? Try sending them this video and see if it helps.
Although it doesn’t mention the other aspect of wikis that I consider revolutionary, which is the history tab. :)