The Decline of Wikipedia: Even As More People Than Ever Rely on It, Fewer People Create It | MIT Technology Review.
Have any political scientists tried to model /improve governance of Wikipedia? LOTS of interesting questions there, and seemingly a way for an ambitious young academic to stake out new territory that will be increasingly important. Here’s the author’s view of the cause of problems:
The loose collective running the site today, estimated to be 90 percent male, operates a crushing bureaucracy with an often abrasive atmosphere that deters newcomers who might increase participation in Wikipedia and broaden its coverage.
a few more quotes:
The page explaining a policy called Neutral Point of View, one of “five pillars” fundamental to Wikipedia, is almost 5,000 words long. “That is the real barrier: policy creep,” he says. But whatever role that plays in Wikipedia’s travails, any effort to prune its bureaucracy is hard to imagine. It would have to be led by Wikipedians, and the most active volunteers have come to rely on bureaucratic incantations.
Yet it may be unable to get much closer to its lofty goal of compiling all human knowledge. Wikipedia’s community built a system and resource unique in the history of civilization. It proved a worthy, perhaps fatal, match for conventional ways of building encyclopedias. But that community also constructed barriers that deter the newcomers needed to finish the job. Perhaps it was too much to expect that a crowd of Internet strangers would truly democratize knowledge. Today’s Wikipedia, even with its middling quality and poor representation of the world’s diversity, could be the best encyclopedia we will get.
How Hollywood Can Stop Suing Downloaders and Capitalize on Piracy | MIT Technology Review.
Another article refuting Hollywood scare tactics. Apparently even Hollywood studios are coming to recognize that piracy provides valuable free PR, though they won’t admit it publicly.
I fear that ongoing trade treaty negotiations are being used as a backdoor for misguided new restrictions on IP. Because these are being negotiated “in secret” (except from large companies), there won’t be time to hold hearings or have a rational discussion of these provisions when the treaty is presented to the Senate for confirmation.
Million-Year Data Storage Disk Unveiled | MIT Technology Review.
This is impressive, although perhaps not too practical. They are using lines scribed on tungsten. The underlying data is expressed as QR codes (which will be forgotten in a few centuries at most, but that is a different problem.)
One problem is that they are using 100nm line width. While impressive, at that width it is invisible to optical devices (which have a limit of approximately 1 micron) without very complex optics and electronics. So they are going for high density, rather than long-term readability. On the other hand, it would be great for a 50 to 100 -year storage, which is longer than any existing technology can reliably handle.
This blog challenges the “drowning in big data” cliche. He explains that most organizations don’t have useful access to most of their raw data – it sits somewhere in the IT department, but it’s not accessible, it has quality problems, and so forth.
But I think that is precisely where the “drowning” comes in. The psychological weight of all that unused data presses down and causes a sensation of “drowning.” The part of the data that is actually indexed, described, readily accessible and so forth is the data that we surf instead of drown under.
This applies on a personal level as well…. I drown under the weight of my “to read” pile; I surf the few things I actually sit and study.
Are You Really Drowning in Data? Challenging the Big Data Assumption – FICO Labs Blog.
People Power 2.0
How civilians helped win the Libyan information war.
MAY/JUNE 2012BY JOHN POLLOCK
The force of laughter: Graffiti on a wall in Tripoli represents the Libyan leader, Colonel Qadaffi, as a fleeing rat. Credit: John Pollock
via People Power 2.0 – Technology Review.
The Obama administrations “Internet freedom” agenda — already tarnished — is on the line, and at least this time, officials seem to realize that their actions will have a direct effect on their foreign policy. …. There are signs, however, that the Obama administration is learning that it cant have a “do as I say, not as I do policy” when it comes to Internet freedom. During the SOPA debate, the State Department refused to comment on the bill despite virtually the entire tech industry complaining that it would amount to mass censorship. A spokesperson even released a statement at the time saying, “The Department of State does not provide comment on pending legislation,” despite a provision that would have made much of the circumvention software it is funding — to the tune of tens of millions of dollars — illegal.In stark contrast this time around, Secretary of State Hillary Clintons senior advisor for innovation, Alec Ross, was the first U.S. official to definitively say, “The Obama administration opposes CISPA,” as he matter-of-factly told the Guardian Monday. Prior to that, the administration had only released a broad statement saying that “privacy and civil liberties” should be preserved in any cybersecurity bill.
via Down with CISPA – By Trevor Timm | Foreign Policy.
I’m in Grading Hell right now, which makes me open to alternatives. The idea of “gamifying” university courses is intriguing.