The story of Wikipedia; Wikipedia reanimated and republished; New UK government social media rules; death of Italian Wikipedia administrator: Among many newsworthy stories this week, the Signpost notes the passing of Italian Wikipedia administrator and former Wikimedia Italia treasurer Cotton
That was when Wales and Sanger discovered Ward Cunningham's wiki software. Like many digital-age innovations, the application of wiki software to Nupedia in order to create Wikipedia—combining two ideas to create an innovation—was a collaborative process involving thoughts that were already in the air.
After covering the disagreements over who brought what inspiration to the project, and the philosophical differences between Nupedia and Wikipedia, Isaacson then brings us to the main event: the launch of Wikipedia in early 2001.
One month after Wikipedia's launch, it had a thousand articles, approximately seventy times the number that Nupedia had after a full year. By September 2001, after eight months in existence, it had ten thousand articles. ... A year after that, the article total reached forty thousand, more than were in the World Book that Wales's mother had bought.
By then, Wales had let Sanger go. A year later, after Wikipedia had accumulated 100,000 articles and a critical mass of editors, Nupedia met its demise when Wikipedia subsumed it.
Having recounted Wikipedia's beginnings, Isaacson moves on to describe his own experience as a Wikipedia editor and being part of the crowdsourcing. He waxes enthusiastic about Wikipedia's mechanisms of collaboration and consensus as it applies to both the development of articles and the governance of the project. He particularly stresses the principle of neutral point of view in producing articles. He notes the tremendous growth ("Wikipedia was able to spread like kudzu") into hundreds of languages and tens of millions of articles.
He speculates on why editors contribute, and concludes it is more than giving people free access to knowledge, that most contribute out of the sheer joy of sharing what they know.
[There is] a rush of dopamine that seems to hit the brain's pleasure center when you make a smart edit and it appears instantly in a Wikipedia article. Until recently, being published was a pleasure afforded only to a select few. Most of us in that category can remember the thrill of seeing our words appear in public for the first time. Wikipedia, like blogs, made that treat available to anyone. You didn't have to be credentialed or anointed by the media elite.
On this last point, he gives a shout out to now-departed editor User:Lord Emsworth, whose moniker comes from the P. G. Wodehousecharacter. Lord Emsworth's "articles on the British aristocracy ... were so insightful about the intricacies of the peerage system that some were featured as the article of the day, and Lord Emsworth rose to become a Wikipedia administrator. It turned out that [he] was actually a 16-year-old schoolboy in South Brunswick, New Jersey. On Wikipedia, nobody knows you're a commoner."
Wikipedia reanimated and republished
Wiredhighlights (October 8) the newest project of artist Evan Roth, called No Original Research, which was commissioned by the Alingsas Konsthallen as part of their exhibition Snel Hest. Roth took eleven animated GIF files from Wikipedia and combined them with unrelated Wikipedia audio files.
No Original Research is a series of art websites, each created from a single animation and audio file found on wikipedia.org. The title originates from one of Wikipedia's core content policies, which states that all material must "cite reliable, published sources that directly support the material being presented". The URL of each composition serves as its title, describing the repeated animation and the background color. The use of these gifs and HTML color names are a celebration of content driven by function and necessity. Compositions are created by copying a found animated gif file dozens of times and embedding them into a single HTML page. When the browser tries (and fails) to load all of the files simultaneously they become out of synch, creating an animation cycle that visualizes the latencies specific to the viewer. Each viewing is a unique experience dictated by the speed of the network, the browser used and the speed of the computer.
Widely admired Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert was a Wikipedia editor who made 22 edits from 2004 to 2009 as User:Rebert. Though there is little in the way of direct evidence that he was User:Rebert, the quality of his edits and the frequent references and links to Ebert's work in those edits have led editors to conclude that the account belonged to Ebert. The account was also used to upload a picture of Ebert with director Russ Meyer which was released into the Creative Commons and verified by OTRS. Following Ebert's death in 2013, the account's user page became an impromptu shrine dedicated to Ebert's life and work.
The Atlanticfeatures (October 9) the newest Wikipedia tribute to Ebert. Quenton Miller created an artist's book collecting all of Ebert's Wikipedia edits in a single volume, complete with the picture of Ebert with Meyer as the author's photo on the book jacket. Miller only created a single copy of the book and it is not currently for sale. Miller told The Atlantic:
There's a really interesting tension between Wikipedia being an encyclopedia and the different ways people write in it. It's kind of surprising, because he's this amazing writer, and some of the edits are quite well written or witty in places. In the end, they turned into encyclopedia entries.
Care should be taken when editing collaboratively edited websites such as Wikipedia and engaging with chat forums and commentable articles – posts can be linked back to government IP addresses. Anyone found to be making inappropriate edits will be disciplined which could lead to dismissal.
Bungle bungle: Paul Nuttall, deputy leader of the UK Independence Party, officially denied to the Daily Mirror (October 18) that he portrayed the teddy bearBungle on the popular children's television show Rainbow, in response to a claim inserted into his Wikipedia article on September 24 and removed by a different editor on October 2. The show ran for twenty years beginning in 1972, four years before Nuttall's birth. Nuttall said "I think this is probably the funniest thing I’ve ever read about myself on the internet. I’m all for it."
Sticky wicket: Christopher Sandford's new book, The Final Over: The Cricketers of Summer 1914, is the subject of an uncomplimentary book review (October 18) at Cricket Web, which disapprovingly notes, among other criticisms, that the book's appendix listing the cricket players who died serving in World War I was "simply scraped, word for word, fact for fact" from the list at the Wikipedia article List of cricketers who were killed during military service.
Host your own Wikipedia article: The Anniston Starreports (October 17) that Jim Zeigler, current Republican candidate for State Auditor of Alabama, features an older version of his Wikipedia article, complete with the Wikipedia logo, on his website, billing it as an "article on Zeigler by Wikipedia". Zeigler told the Star "It looked like what you see on my page, until people who don't like me demolished it." Zeigler's article was deleted in May following a deletion discussion where editors concluded the lengthy article was overly promotional.
Subscribe to Wikipedia: Jason Kottkeurged (October 17) media companies to follow his lead in making monthly regular donations to Wikipedia, which he called a "subscription fee". He wrote "Even $500/month is a drop in the bucket compared to your monthly animated GIF hosting bill and I know your writers use Wikipedia as much as I do."
Stolen money and stolen pictures: WISC-TVreports (October 16) on an investigation by multiple Wisconsin law enforcement agencies which charges that a woman from Spring Green, Wisconsin, fraudulently received thousands of dollars in charitable donations after faking a diagnosis of cancer. Investigators said that images she posted to social media purporting to be of her own cancer-stricken organs were actually taken from Wikipedia and other internet sources.
Death of former Wikimedia Italia treasurer Wikimedia Italia announced on the Wikimedia-l email list that Italian Wikipedia contributor Cotton, also known as Alessio Guidetti, has died. Cotton was the treasurer of Wikimedia Italia from 2009 to April 2014, an administrator on Italian Wikipedia, and a frequent translator of Wikipedia content. Cotton was noted for his sense of humor, his trustworthiness, and his pragmatism. Following Wikipedia customs, users are leaving memorials on his talk page.
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