Anyone can edit Wikipedia articles which is, on balance, a very good thing. It does mean that you should take anything you read on Wikipedia with a healthy dose of sodium, and maybe also look at the history and discussion pages of the article in question. Take for instance the article on National Party politician and MP Sam Lotu-Iiga. A FryUp reader noticed that someone using the IP address 126.96.36.199 has been “tidying up” the article on Lotu-Iiga, removing mentions of criticism of the politician and his efforts. The removed content, which was referenced, has been restored now and the IP address above banned from editing for one week. Interestingly enough, the IP address appears to be assigned to the parliament.govt.nz domain and Wikipedia records show that it’s only been used to edit the Sam Lotu-Iiga article. Curious use of government IT resources, that.
Have a Great China Internet Maintenance Day
Imagine being able to silence all that inconvenient internet tattle amongst the populace when there are things best forgotten coming up; isn’t that any politician’s dream?
Newspapers can be told to shut up with legal threats or just violence, but apart from sniping off individual bloggers, internet sources are quite hard to muffle. The good news is that the clever communist Chinese have found a solution: take down the internet for maintenance. Obviously, the dissidents have clogged up the Intarweb tubes in China with their sticky and infectious democratic notions, so when the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre came up, the authorities flicked the switch. The Great Firewall of Chinese shut up, tight. Many sites and services were blocked or closed down for two days, so clips like this one from Al Jazeera wouldn’t have been visible in China: — Link The bad news is, shutting down discussion didn’t work. It never does. — Censorship on Tiananmen Anniversary cripples Chinese Net — Tiananmen: the flame burns on
Personal is powerful
What’s more cool, a big humming multicore desktop or a networked device with internet access than you take with you everywhere? The latter, quite literally, something that’s apparent in the Intel’s latest round of announcements. The chip monster is plugging Ultra Low Voltage or ULV processors and chipsets, because that’s where the competition from NVIDIA is heating up. Google’s in there too, with Android, much to Microsoft’s dismay since that particular area is arguably Redmond’s soft underbelly, WinCE and Win7 notwithstanding. Moorestown and Atom/Medfield, Tegra and ION are product and code names that’ll feature heavily from next year, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Mobility is great stuff and I look forward to more of it. It’ll certainly give the IT industry a big boost at every level. That said, mobility isn’t about hardware alone… currently, the big drawback to all small, handheld devices is the human interface engineering. It’s too hard to input data and view the output. More work is needed here. — NVIDIA's Tegra takes on Intel in the MID/PMP market — Intel to acquire Wind River for $884 million
XKCD Troll slayer
Robert X Cringely Reader rabid: something wiki this way comes Is Wikipedia guilty of censorship or good stewardship? Are Scientologists losing their right to free expression or getting justly rebuked for abusing the system? The residents of Cringeville weigh in
Well that didn't take long. Reaction to my recent post, "Wikipedia to Scientologists: Edit this, sucker," was fast and vociferous. Cringester M A (who says she "didn't like the tone of my article") is glad to have Wikipedia around and applauds its efforts to stop rampant propagandising inside its virtual pages: "I want the Wikipedia to be as truthful and factual as possible. I'm sure it can never be 100% correct/accurate, but I sure as hell wouldn't want every religious group writing its own entry." V C, on the other hand, says censorship could eventually bring the whole organisation down. "Wikipedia may have sounded its own death knell by starting down the road of censorship. As your article points out there are organisations and individuals that edit their entries all the time. By taking a socio-political stance in managing their text the Wikipedia Committee have labeled themselves with bias. Although they never have been an objective source of information, they had some merit as a casual quick reference. I doubt they will continue to have such merit in the future." D D thinks Wikipedia just opened up a big can of whupass on itself with "L.A.W.Y.E.R.S." all over the label: "Wikipedia is naïve to think the CoS won’t litigate. There is a high probability that the eventual settlement will give the CoS control of Wikipedia. I predict that within three years the main page for Wikipedia will include a picture of an erupting volcano, a smiling guy in white clothes and silver boots, and he'll say "Thank you!" whenever an entry is made. The Wikimotto will be 'Clearing the world one search at a time.'" S S, who identifies himself as a Scientologist (then asks if he's scared me away), thinks the whole notion of trying to lock some people out is silly and unrealistic:
"I was laughing my ass off when I saw what they had decided. There is no way they can really enforce that. ... there are so many ways to get around IP blocks that this whole thing is an exercise in futility, and they should have known better. ... it's plain silly to try to exclude both parties in this fight. And where does it end? Probably an excellent reason to get some Internet jurisprudence established for these kinds of stupid decisions." Finally, reader D G notes, rightly, that Wikipedia is stuck between a Hubbard and a hard place. If it adheres to its lofty principles of an encyclopedia that "anyone" can edit, it gets royally gamed. If it only allows "qualified" individuals to edit entries, then it's just a regular old encyclopedia — and the world has plenty of those. "So, they're following a heuristic approach — ban (read "hinder") as best they can the worst (egregious) idiots where identifiable, and rely on the rest of their established processes to keep up quality elsewhere. We used to call it ABC analysis — deal with the highest priorities first, and keep after the others as you can. "You seem to have issues with this. I'm curious as to what recommendation you would make that you think would be likely to achieve better results? And if you have one or more such recommendations, what is your definition of 'better results' in this case?" Well, I'm no expert, I'm just here to eat the cheese dip and make fun of people. But it seems to me the Wikipedians may finally have to give up some cherished notions, first among them being the small fiercely guarded priesthood that make the rules for everyone else. The council of Wiki elders may need to democratise itself or, at the very least, let in some outsiders — maybe even some (gasp) experts. Another thing that probably has to go is the concept of anonymous posting. Yes, I can hear the screaming and gnashing of teeth already. Establish a reputation system like eBay's (only better) that ranks each contributor by the quality of their entries. Give entries from people with acknowledged expertise more weight than, say, that obnoxious 12-year-old down the block, as Citizendium is trying to do. Do what the Veropedia has been trying to do, and fact check the entries with impartial sources — at least the important or controversial ones. (Citizendium and Veropedia were both started by original Wiki-heads who grew unhappy with how the Wiki was being run and branched out to make a better one, fyi.) In other words, it's time for Wikipedia to grow up. There, that ought to generate some more letters.