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.
Today I am guest-blogging at the WMF fundraiser blog, Wikimedia Commons: The Power of Free Content Media. I am not sure if I am happy with the piece or not. Maybe there are too many leaps of logic. Maybe not. I was happy to find natural ways to give links to all the Wikimedia projects except for Wikispecies. :)
I considered writing something more “promotional” but it seems a bit pointless when 99.9999% of the world has never heard of Commons. It’s certainly useful within the Wikimedia community, but for the outside world it seems best to let the success become self-evident.
The other thing is that Commons is seriously unusable. :( I can’t in good conscience encourage non-Wikimedians to flock there. I sincerely hope that at least some of my software requests will be implemented in 2008.
The first couple of posts in the fundraiser blog got hundreds of comments. Seriously, 405... that’s insane. It seems to have died down significantly now, which might mean the novelty has worn off, or people are just busy with their holidays now. The voices who responded on the blog seem very different to the voices that I typically see on talk pages on Wikipedia, so it seems like the blog was maybe an outlet for people who appreciate Wikipedia but don’t feel able or are unwilling to contribute to it by editing.
Card-carrying free culture proponents, here’s what’s hot at all hip water coolers this week:
It’s fundraiser time
The WMF fundraiser continues, with some interesting comments from Board chair Florence Devouard in an interview with the Wikipedia Signpost this week, about the success so far and whether or not there will be matching donations.
Wikipedia is many things to many people. While to some it’s nothing more than status or a game, imagine what it could be for the students of this school.
Also happening is the iCommons Auction. Thirty items have been donated by free culture leaders, and they range from the limited edition to the slightly weird. (I can’t say I have a hankering for the lead item, Lawrence Lessig’s coat. What would you do with it, sniff it? Wear it? About the only place you would get bragging rights for it is at the iSummit.)
You can join the iCommons mailing list to be notified when particular items become available for bidding.
A new license: Affero GPL
No beta for this baby, straight to version 3!
The idea behind it is thus: The GPL came about because RMS wanted the right to view and modify source code of programs on his machine. You can make a web app available using GPL code without releasing the code, and that is OK, because the code doesn’t go onto users’ machines and you’re offering a service (use of a program) rather than a product (the software itself). I think that’s the story.
So, some people in the FLOSS movement find this dodgy and feel that such developers should be obligated to release their code, while others feel that that would be a radical and unwelcome interpretation of the GPL. Hence, new license. Soon you’ll be saying “Is it Affero GPL?” quicker than you can mouth Open Social.
Well, maybe. In this age of APIs where users can be grateful to have the very data that they contributed released back to them in an accessible format, is it too late for AGPL to have an impact?
Mako has some thoughts on it worth reading.
Free culture/free software symbiosis
Mako has also published a short piece Free Culture Advanced which describes how the nascent free content movement has drawn inspiration from the free software movement. As one of the authors of the Definition of Free Cultural Works he is hardly an impartial observer but it is a useful primer. As an even more basic guide I suggest the Ideology and philosophy section on the Wikimedia Commons “Choosing a license” guide, which, um, I mostly wrote. (Lately even that is overkill, given you can learn who to namedrop via xkcd.)
I have a vague memory of a CC-authored “free content definition”-style document being mentioned on one of the CC mailing lists, but I can’t find it now. Anyone else recall this?
Amazon’s Kindle ebook reader
Ebooks are great except for one nagging problem… The Future of Reading has some sobering quotes to contemplate.
Cool toy: GunnMap
Enough Serious Biz. Say hello to GunnMap (Flash, sorry). No more handcoding coloured maps! Just tick, tick, write, click, “Save SVG”, upload as CC-BY-SA, done! (Confession: I haven’t actually used it. I’m not a map creator by trade. But it looks pretty awesome and I hope it works as well as it looks.)
PS: For Facebook addicts, RSVP to the Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Year 2007 event so you won’t forget to vote! :)
(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. :)