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[P]
Text and Collaboration, Part I

By lsanger in Culture
Fri May 26, 2006 at 12:00:00 PM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)
Internet

I have a bit of (let's say) history here on Kuro5hin. First, I was taken to task for using Kuro5hin to promote the projects I was organizing. Then I attempted to defend one of the projects, which just added fuel to the fire. A few years later, I came out with some criticism, mixed with praise, of the project, once I had distanced myself from it--and I was excoriated more than ever.

Well, what I'm going to suggest next is going to be even more unpopular: that the best, future methods of collaboration online will combine the openness of projects like Wikipedia with expert oversight. I favor open meritocracies. That's what I explain and argue for here, even if many people rake me over the coals for propounding this radical idea. I'll take the abuse, because this is an idea whose time has come, and you, readers of Kuro5hin, can make the idea a reality.


Introduction

The educated world, and everything touched by it, is about to undergo an alteration of the same order of consequence as the scientific method, the printing press, the Industrial Revolution, and the transistor. So I will suggest in this essay. It will be a revolution in collaboration--just as, not coincidentally, these previous revolutions made it possible for people to work more closely together in various new ways. To a great extent, as has often been observed, the increasingly evident power of collaboration is really just the fulfillment of the promise of the Internet. So perhaps a better descriptor is simply "the Internet Revolution." If so, the Internet Revolution has parts, and we are only now entering into the next part--the collaborative part.

I do not claim to be making an original claim in forecasting this revolution, nor do I really expect to persuade anyone that it is coming. I hope this essay will at least evince my own sincerity in avowing a belief in this impending revolution. I hope it will also help explain why I, and a growing number of people online, believe this revolution is coming. And for those who are not yet convinced, I hope it will at least clarify and plant the seed of a very, very fruitful idea.

This essay is intended more as a manifesto than as a project proposal or an academic paper. I plan to describe an idea, "strong collaboration," and why creativity is needed to make it work, and then explain the cultural elements also needed for strong collaboration to work.

One other introductory remark is in order. Some people will read an inaccurate summary of this essay, or this introduction, and think that it's old hat--that I am just singing the praises of wikis and blogs and folksonomies all over again. "Power to the cyber-people" and all that: that was still new about two years ago, but not now. As an interpretation of this essay, that would be a mistake. My take on the future of collaboratively-developed content is importantly different from that which prevails on Wikipedia, Slashdot, Kuro5hin, and most of the Blogosphere that comments on this stuff--i.e., the websites and Internet projects that most closely tracks developments in online collaboration. I boldly submit that my take is not only different, it is more mature and better-developed than the prevailing view of online collaboration, according to which, as far as I can tell, collaboration is best done when anarchy prevails, anonymity is expected, and hard-won expertise is at best ignored and at worst an object of sophomoric contempt. Not only do I have these philosophical or policy disagreements, I think that focus on tools like wikis, to the exclusion of projects and their special requirements, has led to widespread indifference to whole classes of potential new kinds or systems of collaboration. At any rate, I think and hope that those who theorize about online collaboration will find something new and worth thinking about here.

Strong collaboration and its many possibilities

Strong, or radical, collaboration is crucially different from old-fashioned collaboration. Many people who have not worked much with open source software, or with Wikipedia, do not realize this. Old-fashioned collaboration generally involves two or more people working serially on a single work, or each on a different part of a work, and the work is then put together by an editor and perhaps approved by committee. This frequently produces boring, unadventurous, and confusing work, as everybody knows; the phrase "written by committee" stands for "stitched together incoherently like a Frankenstein monster."

Strongly collaborative works are not written by committee, in this way. Anyone who tries to replicate the success of Wikipedia, for example, by using committees just has not got the concept of strong collaboration.

Instead, strong collaboration involves a constantly changing roster of interchangeable people, and changing mainly at the whim of the participants themselves. For the most part at least, collaborators are not pre-assigned to play special roles in the project. There is just one main role--that of collaborator. And anyone who shows up and fits the requirements (bear in mind that some projects have almost no requirements at all) can play that role. Moreover, to the extent to which work is strongly collaborative, everyone has equal rights over the product. Everyone feels equal ownership and feels equally emboldened to make changes.

The justification for this odd and perhaps frightening methodology has nothing to do with egalitarian ideology, as some have portrayed it. At least, it need not have anything to do with egalitarian ideology. Some have portrayed Wikipedia and open source software as "communist" because its results are free, and everyone is free to participate under roughly equal terms (if they are able, that is). But this is silly, of course. People of every political stripe can and do support strongly collaborative methods. The fact that the collaborative work is free is not a result of some strictly "communist" desire for "no ownership" and "free stuff for everybody."

Instead, open source and open content stuff is free for the simple reason that an arbitrarily large number of people can and do work on it. So who's going to own it? Nobody can own it, or else you couldn't get that large number of people to work on it so hard and take personal responsibility for it. Similarly, you can't get an arbitrarily large number of people to volunteer to work on something that a much smaller number of individuals own, or have special authority over. If a work is said to be "owned" by John Doe, Jane Roe will think it's up to John Doe to call the shots. She doesn't want to step on Doe's toes, or she might feel that she has no right to do so. So she and others just don't have the same incentive to work together on something when she is told the content has owners. When a work is free and ownerless, everyone enjoys more or less equal rights to contribute, and motivation to get to work, and to work together, is much stronger.

It is not anything magic about wiki software in particular that makes Wikipedia work as well as it does. Wikipedia's success is more due to the fact that it is strongly collaborative than that it is a wiki. Wikis and the Wikipedia model are one way to enable strong collaboration, but they are not only one way. I think that the Wikipedia community made a mistake when it decided that it's the wiki part that explained Wikipedia's success. They proceeded to apply the same software and content development system, which happened to work (more or less) for an encyclopedia, to develop very different kinds of projects: a dictionary, news articles, editing public domain books, writing new books from scratch, and several more things. It seems they found they had a whopping good hammer and suddenly everything looked like a nail. A lot of other people have got in on the act, with "wiki farms" sprouting up all over. Even Amazon.com has recently decided to add wiki pages to their pages about books. I predict that this experiment, like the Los Angeles Times Wikitorial experiment, will fail miserably. The revolutionary thing about Wikipedia, the thing worth replicating, is not the fact that it's a wiki. It's the fact that it's strongly collaborative. And collaborations do not happen just because someone puts up a wiki. As the zillions of dead or stillborn wikis attest, with wikis, it is not the case that if you build it, they will come.

The fact is that there is no substitute for carefully thinking through the details of a collaborative system and how it ought to work in order produce a particular kind of information. Just appropriating the Wikipedia system will not solve all content development problems. Different kinds of information--different content editing systems. No one would have suggested that Second Life, which is a collaboratively-developed virtual space (like a video game that the participants work on together), should be a wiki. A wiki is inappropriate for that because wikis aren't (strictly speaking) 3D, they're mainly text. Why should every collaborative text project be a wiki, and share the Wikipedia model, just because it's text? For a lot of people who love innovation, there seems to be far too much in-the-box thinking going on. Wikis, and the very specific way that Wikipedia uses the wiki tool, are just one game. There are many other games. One only needs to do creative and intelligent problem-solving to think of many more; and the best "Web 2.0" innovators realize this very well.

What relatively few seem to realize is what an absolutely huge assortment of collaborative text development systems are possible. We haven't even begun to scratch the surface. The names of tools--"wikis," "blogs," "tagging," etc.--seem to define the creative boundaries for too many people. Often, one has only to change a single rule, and the whole paradigm associated with a tool changes. Take the humble mailing list (Internet forum), which can count as a collaborative content development system (just not strongly so, because people can't edit each others' posts). The difference between moderated and unmoderated lists is well known, and everybody familiar with mailing lists has an opinion about moderation. But it seems few people think much about other variants--other ways to get people to interact and work together. Think of mailing lists as games. What are all the games you could play? What rules could you impose, that everyone playing could agree to, so that the result would be interestingly different? Here's just one possibility. Suppose

  1. The list moderator posts a general question, about war, free trade, global warming, or whatever, and invites people to write reasoned answers to the question.
  2. All the answers (or maybe the half-dozen the moderator thinks best) are posted at once.
  3. Anyone who wants to can write a reply to exactly one of the respondents.
  4. The moderator collates the replies so that all the replies to answer #1 are grouped in one post, all the replies to answer #2 are grouped in a second, and so forth.
  5. Finally, the initial answerers write responses to the replies, and these are posted.

It is trivially easy to imagine a zillion other "games" one could try with a mailing list. Most of the possibilities have not even been tried; instead, when people use mailing lists, they tend to use them only in very specific, simple ways.

Why haven't the possibilities been explored in practice? I think it's the same reason that wikis, blogs, and other collaborative software each tend to be conducted in just a few different ways: not because there are only a few good ways to use these tools and we have settled upon the best uses, but because people are generally conformists, and because games require shared understandings that must be conveyed deliberately and self-consciously. In other words, for new social games to be played online, there has to be someone who declares, "This is how I propose that we play the game," and then enough other people, a quorum, actually have to play it that way. Since people are such conformists, it's hard to get people to be the first to play new collaborative content games, and even harder for people to do what it takes organize new sorts of games.

My point, then, is that Wikipedia's content editing system is just one game, and there are a zillion other games one can imagine using wikis to play. Out of so many possibilities, it would be astonishing if we hit upon the best one for creating an encyclopedia collaboratively right out of the gate; it would be even more astonishing if exactly that game were also the best one for other kinds of information, like books or dictionaries.

When, with practically endless variations on tool design and rules of operation, there is such a huge space of possibilities to explore, it becomes abundantly clear that a great deal of intelligent, careful, and above all creative thought needs to go into the design of collaborative systems. The requirements of an ideal resource of a specific type, as well as the needs and culture of the collaborators, need to be very carefully considered.

In fact, it is best if the collaborators themselves think through together the requirements of a project. There must be leadership, granted--that is, some way of actually arriving at a decision when one is needed, that the collaborators can view as legitimate--but a large group of people thinking creatively about many possibilities can produce more ideas, and more interesting ideas, than just one or a few people working alone. In fact, when it comes to deciding on a particular "game" to "play," what collaborative content system to adopt, considerations of smart, creative design are not the only reason to engage the collaborators. In addition, to have maximal participant buy-in, they must feel that they have a significant role in designing the system, i.e., that the decisions do not come from the top down.

This brings me to the next major topic: while collaborative systems should be designed with the needs and values of participants in mind, I think that a certain culture, or set of values, is necessary in order to make collaboration work. The principle that collaborators should participate in system design is an example, but only one example.

The culture of collaboration

What makes strong collaboration work? It's a whole set of things. Everyone involved should understand what the project's aim is and what the rules are for getting there. They should also feel empowered to get to work, and (if they're qualified) they should be able to work on any part, or almost any, of the project, whenever the desire arises. Assignments are not made; participants assign themselves, and choosing one assignment does not prevent others from choosing the same assignment. There are, of course, variations on these very general principles, but to the extent to which a project is strongly collaborative, these principles will hold true. What is contrary to these principles are the notions of ownership and top-down assignment. All this is now very well-understood by the open source community and Wikipedia and other such projects. Shared ownership and self-direction are essential to the success of strong collaboration.

So I maintain that, in order to work, any system of strong collaboration requires something like egalitarianism; but not necessarily the total absence of leadership and authority. Many people who spend much time on collaborative projects might well disagree with this, or at least anarchists or borderline anarchists would. It turns out that this is culturally very important for understanding collaborative projects, so I need to spend some time on it.

Political and legal theorists know very well that, if we put political systems on a line, a continuum based on their commitment to equality, anarchy is at one end of the continuum, because every assertion of authority illustrates the difference, after all, between those with authority and those without it. In a perfectly equal society--strictly impossible, no doubt--everyone would be equal in authority. And, without often getting quite honest and explicit about it, theorists about online collaboration frequently commit themselves to something approaching anarchism. Intellectually speaking, it's an easy position to take, because it simply amounts to consistency with an appealing ideal. If your most fundamental, baseline principle is egalitarianism, it requires work, and more complexity, to justify adding authority to social systems, including collaborative systems, precisely because adding authority entails creating an inequality.

Why is this position so popular among collaborative content producers? Actually, it might seem reasonable in the context of collaboration. If shared ownership and self-direction are essential to strong collaboration, as I claim, then adding an authority to a collaborative system is to raise up a person who has some special right to control content and direct effort. So it is easy for someone committed to very strong, or radical, collaboration to claim that a critic of collaboration does not "get it" if he suggests that there needs to be minimal oversight or control of some sort. In this way, the culture of collaboration naturally lends itself to a relatively radical position on the question of authority.

Still, the most radical position is, of course, only one policy position, and not necessarily the one that will actually work best--that is, unless success itself is measured by the degree to which a content creation project is itself egalitarian. There are some people who seem to believe that: it is not really the quality of the software, or the tagging system, or the encyclopedia, or the dictionary that matters. It could be garbage, and some people really wouldn't care that much; what matters is simply that the process that produces these is maximally ownerless and self-directed. It's the social experiment more than anything else that explains why some people are drawn to collaborative content production.

The notion that strong collaboration is valuable mainly or only as a social experiment barely warrants consideration, much less refutation. Information (software, categorization, etc.) has its own internal requirements, and it is practically certain that those requirements cannot be met as well by a radically egalitarian system as it can by a system that contains some rules and controls and, as a practical necessity, persons in authority to enforce the rules and controls.

So far, this is only one side of the problem of making strong collaboration work well. The other side is that the most radically collaborative system is apt to strike most traditional information producers--publishers, editors, producers, journalists, college professors, corporate software engineers, etc.--as an obvious nonstarter, and the egalitarian or anarchical ideology that appears to be behind it is bound to seem puzzling and foreign at best. For academics, strong collaboration seems to have produced bewildering amounts of information more quickly and efficiently than they have ever seen; but the information is typically of self-evidently low quality. Traditional information producers are intrigued by and envious of collaborative content production, but they cannot see how to make it work to produce information that meets their own requirements.

The main puzzlement that academics and (more generally) traditional information producers cannot get past are the two above-named essential features of strong collaboration: shared ownership and self-direction. Shared ownership requires free information--which is where open source and open content enter the picture--and thus requires a radical reconsideration of business models, something that information producers are understandably loath to do. Self-direction, or the rejection of top-down assignments, is also exactly contrary to the usual corporate methods. For all the talk of flattened corporate cultures, self-assignment at the level illustrated by Wikipedia is apt to make managers very nervous.

When it comes to signed content, including journalistic and academic writing, matters are complicated further by the fact that academic and professional advancement seems to require clear authorship. One impediment that keeps academics from using wikis to develop encyclopedias (notwithstanding the academics who contribute to Wikipedia) is that they do not see, in the Wikipedia sort of model, any way to get personal credit for their work. There is a tendency, therefore, to suggest that wikis be adopted with an apparently slight variation on the Wikipedia model: that articles be put under the control of specific authors. But this suggestion would reject a precise requirement for the Wikipedia model to work. The suggestion is made under the impression, debunked earlier, that it is wikis themselves that somehow magically produced all that content. This is not the case: the quantity of content is a result of the fact that the wiki software was used to pursue strong collaboration, so that everyone felt equally motivated to take responsibility for and improve content throughout the project. Wiki software is the tool, but strong collaboration is the method; praise the method, not the tool.

But the suggestion that academics (or journalists, or corporate software engineers, etc.) work without assigned authorship is still, in 2006, apt to be dismissed out of hand. Until they consider it more seriously, traditional information producers will continue to watch from the sidelines with mixed amazement and contempt.

I propose, though I will have to develop this thought elsewhere, that academics and journalists think about the possibility of distinguishing assignment and credit. It is possible to be granted a byline or other credit after doing certain kinds of work. That is the notion behind a system I have helped to design for the Encyclopedia of Earth and the Digital Universe encyclopedia: there can still be topic editors, lead authors, and contributing authors listed, but they are listed only after they have actually contributed to or taken responsibility for an article. The assignments do not come from the top down; people do work where they feel they can help.

So to sum up, there are very different difficulties on two sides when it comes to making strong collaboration work. On the one hand, as we have just seen, traditional information producers must learn to work together and get credit without ownership or assignment. Onthe other hand, the online public who are such fans of collaboration must make room for and reconcile themselves to the notion of at least minimal authority and control. The best collaborative projects of the future will walk the line and combine the best of both worlds. But is that possible?

Ever since I articulated the systems and rules that ran Nupedia and Wikipedia, I have been thinking about the most difficult problem for the future of strong collaboration, namely, to combine the largely incompatible cultures of anarchical collaborationists and of traditional information producers. Though many people from both sides will be reluctant to admit it, the best, most productive culture will combine elements of both. When it comes to information that can be jointly authored to good effect (original scholarship and some artwork might not be in this category), if it is developed using strong collaboration, the results will be superior in terms of quantity and efficiency. But the information needs to be reliable as well, and there is simply no substitute for the involvement of people with mature and relatively reliable judgment--for expert involvement. And experts will not get involved in large numbers, I think, unless they are granted some degree of control and oversight.

Open source software serves as an excellent example here. The persons leading the most successful open source projects are in general, regardless of what credentials they may or may not have, competent and reliable in making judgments about what new code should or should not get into a new release of the software. Still, in a certain way, software is relatively easy because either it does what it is intended to do, or it does not. This is simply not the case with text. An encyclopedia article, tag, discussion post, dictionary entry, etc., just is, it's not a piece of code that compiles and does what it's supposed to. So with collaboratively developed content, it's often difficult to tell whether it's substandard--because participants do not know or perhaps care about what the standards are, or in some cases they reject the notion of standards at all. Good anarchists that they are, they are laws unto themselves. By contrast, code is nice in that it carries its standards with it, so to speak, in large part anyway.

Sometimes Wikipedia and other such projects are called "open source," and it is said that, like real open source (software) projects, they follow the maxims, "publish, then filter" and "publish early and publish often." After previous essays I have occasionally been accused of taking a step backward, i.e., of advocating that strongly collaborative projects "filter, then publish." That's a step backward because it's the old content development model. But this is not what I recommend. In fact--and I am not the first to make this observation--as a maxim, "publish, then filter" does not really get at all relevant aspects of the dynamic. Instead, what is true of open source software is what I recommend: "post widely, but internally among collaborators; then filter; then publish." In other words, code is immediately published internally, among fellow coders; then the project managers decide what additions are in and what additions are out; then the result is published externally, i.e., compiled and released as a new version. Collaborative open content development projects should work like this, but they don't. The best of future projects will, though, or so I maintain.

On this theme I want to convey two messages. First, speaking to the open source and open content community: I ask you to imagine if the Establishment were to use the methods and principles (including shared ownership and freedom) that you champion. Just imagine what fantastic results would come of that. Imagine that, and then ask yourselves what you can do, perhaps what in your processes and attitudes you can change, to help see to it traditional information producers adopt the really productive parts of your culture. And bear in mind that they love the efficiency collaborative systems display, and they aren't in principle opposed to freedom and openness.

Second, speaking to traditional information producers (including academics): imagine a world, after a new collaborative revolution, in which massive amounts of reliable information, nothing like today's Internet, is available free for all. Isn't that something you would want to use your influence to get behind, if it were possible? If such incredibly useful information resources might very well be created with low overhead, then isn't it worth it, at least as an experiment, to jettison top-down assignment and individual authorship, and to explore the creative possibilities of modest business models necessary to support the modest overhead? It may or may not make you rich; but it might well make the world rich in a way it has never been before.

There is a second, even longer part, which proposes a number of text projects that are to be creatively designed and run as "open meritocracies." Also of relevance: the Digital Universe has launched seven different initiatives recently.

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Poll
The collaborative revolution is a rip-roaring party. Will academics, scientists, etc., join the party--make expert-run wiki encyclopedias, open, collaborative databases, and other collaborative projects?
o Yes. They will see the light, they'll get together with the open source/open content movement, and large parts of publishing will become open and collaborative--but under expert guidance. 12%
o Partly. More and more will. It's partly a generational thing, so when the current crop of students enter professional content creation positions, things will start changing more. 60%
o No. Traditional content producers will never see the light, or if they do, the open source/open content community will reject their attempts to get involved on their own terms. The current separation between the open community and the closed, proprietar 4%
o Party? What party? There isn't and never will be a collaborative "revolution." 24%

Votes: 25
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Slashdot
o Kuro5hin
o using Kuro5hin to promote the projects I was organizing
o attempted to defend one of the projects
o came out with some criticism, mixed with praise
o a second, even longer part
o the Digital Universe has launched seven different initiatives recently
o Also by lsanger


Display: Sort:
Text and Collaboration, Part I | 137 comments (124 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
-1 (1.28 / 7) (#2)
by t1ber on Fri May 26, 2006 at 04:31:36 PM EST

Wikipedia is a pile of poorly reasoned crap written by highschool students and oftentimes slanted one way to all hell on a moderators whim.  There is a reason experts charge for their content.

And she said...
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.

oh shut the fuck up you fucking moron (2.20 / 5) (#6)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 26, 2006 at 04:57:54 PM EST

wikipedia is a social phenomenon, it matters, and it works

go ahead and say otherwise

basic internet traffic proves you wrong

what is RIGHT and what WORKS and what you JUDGE THINGS AGAINST is not written in stone. it is written by the masses and what they believe. and in wikipedia's case, that is literal truth

mass populism rules, elitist negativity loses

you don't have a monopoly on declaring what is right or what works. you're opinion is important only in your ivory tower of self-reflective self-important nods. it has no value down in the mud, where people are actually working and building

you lose

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

you suck, die (none / 1) (#10)
by t1ber on Fri May 26, 2006 at 05:11:44 PM EST

basic internet traffic proves you wrong

You have the logs from wikipedia's webservers?  You realize that people might also be visiting wikipedia because someone posted something absolutely negative about that pile of tripe?  It provides a good overview of topics, but it's horribly shallow compared to other encyclopedias.  How many articles in there are "this is a stub" or "this is a fad"?

mass populism rules, elitist negativity loses

Oh I see, mobopoloy is a good thing at the moment.  I'm sure the majority of people will disagree later.

And she said...
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.

[ Parent ]

dude, your ignorance is showing (3.00 / 2) (#11)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 26, 2006 at 05:22:30 PM EST

for someone posting on a website called "technology and culture, from the trenches" you seem pretty ignorant of some rudimentary internet tools

like alexa, fucktard

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

oh, sorry, I thought this was US POLITICS (none / 1) (#44)
by t1ber on Fri May 26, 2006 at 08:24:28 PM EST

At my job, we have an intranet.  I work for a medical company at the moment so we link to many, many articles on medical-related topics.

Do you know how many times Alexia found the links on our pages to a sampling of medical sites we link to?

Jack squat.  If you have an intranet, try it yourself.

You need referrer logs to get any type of accurate picture.

And she said...
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.

[ Parent ]

huh? (none / 1) (#53)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 26, 2006 at 11:55:42 PM EST

thanks for the spasm fucktard

but i think the idea here is that alexa gives a pretty good idea of the cultural phenomenon that is wikipedia

but you go ahead and tell us about how things "really" are

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Have an RFC (none / 0) (#98)
by t1ber on Sat May 27, 2006 at 10:32:27 PM EST

RFC for skullfucking yourself to death, pay particular attention to 15.1.3 entitled "How Things Really Are".

And guess what?  That means you'll never have a complete picture.

And she said...
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.

[ Parent ]

I'm not sure any 'intranet' should be indexed (none / 1) (#86)
by Unski on Sat May 27, 2006 at 04:32:53 PM EST

by google etc..by definition, an intranet is a closed internal network, no?

[ Parent ]
referer logs leak the referring link (none / 1) (#97)
by Saber RICO on Sat May 27, 2006 at 08:51:49 PM EST

but outside spiders cannot access the original website. Some people consider referrer URLs leaks of information and turn that browser feature off.
--
"YOU HAVE BEEN FINED by Delirium FOR GROSS MISUSE OF THE TROLL-SUMMONING MECHANISM"
[ Parent ]
Fair point (none / 0) (#110)
by Unski on Sun May 28, 2006 at 10:13:41 AM EST

That is one way in which an Intranet can end being attempted to be indexed, I didn't think of that. That said, I'm not sure I can imagine any other ways for a closed Intranet app.

..though why the hell I dare to muse this in the face of the collective intelligence of k5 I don't know..

As far as turning off that browser feature, I've never bothered to, though I have collected plenty of HTTP_REFERER data via PHP websites I've done and you're right, there is a small minority who do turn it off. And I don't blame them for that, though I do wonder how it might affect my browsing if I bothered to source the appropriate FF plugin.

[ Parent ]
do you have any basis for your claim? (none / 1) (#37)
by Delirium on Fri May 26, 2006 at 07:04:35 PM EST

Nature did a survey in which they asked experts to identify errors in articles from Wikipedia and Britannica (without identifying which was which), and found that the error rate was fairly similar.

[ Parent ]
sure (3.00 / 2) (#43)
by t1ber on Fri May 26, 2006 at 08:21:27 PM EST

NO-ONE RIPS THE PAGES OUT OF MY BRITANNICA.

Just because the average person doesn't know about rocket science means they can't identify errors in an article on rocket science.  Books get errata and addendums, Wikipedia gets flamewars.

And she said...
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.

[ Parent ]

what i propose (2.50 / 10) (#4)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 26, 2006 at 04:50:38 PM EST

you're like the starry eyed who at the birth of the internet thought it would be some sort of grand academy of intelligent discourse, where all the problems of the world would be solved by people optimistically working together hand in hand in joyful collaboration

what a bunch of bunk

human being are human beings

have you never heard of a troll, a flamewar? does the rampant negativity here cue you into a simple startling realization you seem eager to avoid?: people suck

we're assholes, all of us

anyone who would object to that depiction is probably the biggest asshole of us all

admit your human nature, asshole

this place is no grand hall of academic well-behaved discourse. this place is the low income pub in london's seedy side at 3 am on the night after the home team won and the soccer hooligans just got back from the stadium. some are in fistfights with faces that look like meatpulp, others are screaming and cheering a chick taking off her top, and one guy is drowning in his vomit in the toilet in the bathroom

AND THAT'S A GOOD THING FOR SOCIETY!

huh?

here is the future:

http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2004/5/9/23035/70778

japan's channel 2

racism, nationalism, suicide pacts, death threats, stalking, empty pointless cultural wasteland

that's the future

and, unlike starry eyeed idealistic twits like you who have apparently completely innoculated themselves from the SIMPLE OBVIOUS FACTS OF HUMAN NATURE AND HUMAN BEHAVIOR, i think japan's channel 2, as is, is GOOD FOR US ALL

in other words: porn is good for society, because it provides an outlet, a catharsis for asocial sexual impulses that would otherwise be expressed in real life

violent videogames are good for society, because they provide an outlet, a catharsis for asocial violent impulses that would otherwise be expressed in real life

and finally: internet message boards, with all of their roiling negativity and flamewars and trolls, are good for society, because thet provide an outlet, a catharsis for simple asocial useless behavior that would otherwise be expressed in real life

the internet's future, the message board of the future, friends, is japan's channel 2: the dark underbelly of society. catharsis. release. so that the surface of japanese society looks well-behaved and...

collaborative

(vomit)

listen up starry eyed twits: human beings are not born pure vessels of purity that must be kept from being corrupted by negative influences via internet forums with rigid rules

human beings are raging pits of violence and inappropriate sexual prurience (take a look at your average toddler for 5 minutes for proof), and they are TAMED by society and their negative impulses are RELEASED in certain acceptable ways

like internet messgae boards

that is the future: japan's channel 2

learn it, starry eyed ignorant twits who forget the HUMAN BEING and SIMPLE HUMAN NATURE in their grand scheme of how the world works or should work


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

so what do you propose? (2.66 / 3) (#7)
by the77x42 on Fri May 26, 2006 at 04:58:02 PM EST




"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

[ Parent ]
i propose (1.66 / 6) (#8)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 26, 2006 at 04:58:57 PM EST

that you go fuck yourself


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
well played (none / 1) (#101)
by the77x42 on Sat May 27, 2006 at 11:12:31 PM EST




"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

[ Parent ]
CTS: submit that to the queue (2.50 / 2) (#9)
by t1ber on Fri May 26, 2006 at 05:07:17 PM EST

it sucked less then the last thing you submitted.

And she said...
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.

[ Parent ]

i got a better idea (3.00 / 4) (#12)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 26, 2006 at 05:26:37 PM EST

i'm going to build my own goddamn website

it's going to be heaven for trolls flamewars and total assholes and other scum of the earth

it's going to be online war, it's going to be racists and religious fundamentalists and creationists and communists and conspiracy theorists and all the other assholes ripping each other apart

i'm sick of just talking about this shit

i'm going to fucking build some shit

i'm going to make a website that's going to be a giant fucking bonfire of mankind's arrogance and blindness and shrill stubborn self-defeating pride

it's going to be awesome


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

For my sins.. (3.00 / 3) (#15)
by Unski on Fri May 26, 2006 at 05:35:33 PM EST

I am a web developer, and I find your ideas intiguing and wish to subscribe to your newsletter am quite up for exploring this idea...I am truly fed up of pompous pseudo-intellectual puritans...email me if you want about it..

[ Parent ]
Best Idea I've heard in a long time (1.50 / 4) (#84)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Sat May 27, 2006 at 03:37:15 PM EST

Fuck, where do I sign up?
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
Better idea. (none / 1) (#95)
by Patrick Chalmers on Sat May 27, 2006 at 07:23:08 PM EST

People have tried exactly this before. It always fails - you just can't keep a critical mass of trolls on a new site long enough to gather momentum. It's like, I dunno, trying to hold a plasma together in a nuclear fusion reactor. Fucking difficult.

No, what you want to do is take an existing site and gradually prod it into a troll haven. What's a good candidate? Well, since the Rustina debacle, K5's been constantly churning with new users entering and oldies leaving, and it's in a very volatile state. How hard could it be to edge it into a grand kingdom of trolls? We could be a new Adequacy!
Holy crap, working comment search!
[ Parent ]

The 'Rustina debacle'? (none / 1) (#106)
by Unski on Sun May 28, 2006 at 05:34:45 AM EST

Is this anything similar to Taco's hissy fit when someone pointed out (OT) what they had learned during their time there? It's hard to imagine Rusty being such a prat, in fact I read with interest an IRC thread, which I stumbled upon during my discovery of this (possibly typical) /. censorship issue, and noted the contrast in attitudes.

I do see your point about how hard it could be to make a site for trolls actually work, because trolls need something to push against. The element of surprise. Moments of misunderstandings. Indignatories. Sacrificial lambs.

[ Parent ]
Rusty had a bigger stimulus (none / 1) (#108)
by Patrick Chalmers on Sun May 28, 2006 at 09:19:01 AM EST

Someone posted a photoshop of his wife's face on the body of a white woman getting screwed by a big black guy.
Holy crap, working comment search!
[ Parent ]
Ah.. (none / 1) (#109)
by Unski on Sun May 28, 2006 at 10:00:37 AM EST

..that most imaginative of hilarious pranks, the photoshop wheeze. I extend belated sympathies to the victims...that said, did they actually photoshop his 'bigger stimulus' as well?

* is slapped, hard, across the face for low-quality punnery *

[ Parent ]
Been there, done that, died fast (none / 1) (#107)
by ynotds on Sun May 28, 2006 at 08:50:51 AM EST

Somebody with experience running high traffic forums tried to set up a separate forum for those who just wanted to flame as part of a strategy to imporve the signal:noise ratio on related forums. They used my software, but it was one experiment I didn't mind seeing fail. My interpretation is that you need an agreed context within which to flame. Even on Slashdot, random flames get almost no traction.
-- Neither your faith nor your job absolves your responsibility.
[ Parent ]
I like trolls (2.75 / 4) (#13)
by Unski on Fri May 26, 2006 at 05:30:18 PM EST

I honestly think that trolls are part of the furniture at sites such as this. I would be sad to see them actually be effectively locked out. I have read some fantastic trolls in my time, and they are a valid reflection of real human nature. I have also trolled and have no regrets.

The more a site tries to sterilise itself, the harder the trolls will try. I personally love it when someone thinks of themselves as a 'key player' in an online community, is trolled and is upset that another human being took the time to be mean to them (because I am at heart a vindictive little shit who likes to see the misery he has suffered inflicted upon others). As if they have never encountered such meanness outdoors. Like emotional teenagers on /. for example...which reminds me, I've been incubating a childish 'Ask Slashdot' for a while now: 'Ask Slashdot: Are you fed-up of being around stupid morons who know less about computers than you?'

I think it couldn't fail to be accepted..

[ Parent ]
2 things (3.00 / 6) (#14)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 26, 2006 at 05:34:30 PM EST

  1. trolls are hard doses of honesty and ugly truths. people prefer beautiful lies to ugly truths that challenge their world view. fuck them
  2. when you kill trolls, you bleed passion from a website. there is no way to remove human negativity without also removing passion from a website. if you kill negativity, you also kill your website. it will be cold and sterile and utterly unchallenging, and no one will visit it. so i say revel in it. encourage negativity
stop trying to innoculate the web from asocial activity

pick up a fucking molotov cocktail and set the motherfucker on fire

why?

CATHARSIS

the promise and purpose of the internet message boardsi snot to serve as centers cold impassionate boring discourse. it is loud ugly empty stupid bickering. and it serves society by allowing people to express that side of them harmessly, rather in than expressing it in real life, wher eit actually does harm


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

err (2.50 / 4) (#16)
by Unski on Fri May 26, 2006 at 05:36:28 PM EST

..is this just an extension of your rant or have u grossly misunderstood my post?

[ Parent ]
apparently you forgot (2.50 / 4) (#17)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 26, 2006 at 05:37:20 PM EST

TO GO FUCK YOURSELF

i think you're the one missing the meta at work here, eh?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

ooo (3.00 / 3) (#18)
by Unski on Fri May 26, 2006 at 05:39:27 PM EST

that stings man. So .. scathing. I'm constantly fucking myself though, I'm not sure I've ever forgotton what I don't need to remember. Could you possibly remind me in the future, say at periodic intervals?

[ Parent ]
SUCK MY DICK AND DIE DOUCHEBAG! (1.75 / 4) (#19)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 26, 2006 at 05:40:44 PM EST

better? ;-)

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
No CTS, I don't understand (3.00 / 3) (#20)
by Unski on Fri May 26, 2006 at 05:43:53 PM EST

Could you elaborate?

[ Parent ]
IN SOVIET RUSSIA CTS UNDERSTANDS YOU (1.60 / 5) (#85)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Sat May 27, 2006 at 03:43:07 PM EST

nt
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
i wish it were that exciting (2.66 / 3) (#21)
by a brief respite on Fri May 26, 2006 at 05:56:48 PM EST

if k5 were actually drunken cheering maniacs and women taking their tops off, i would probably never leave. good for you that it gives you such a rush, i guess.

"[in London] the wrong babes were hidden in black hijabs and long robes on the streets and in the parks."
[ Parent ]

i agree, k5 needs a porn section (2.50 / 2) (#22)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 26, 2006 at 06:01:43 PM EST

RUSSSTTYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!

we need a pr0n section

c'mon dude, how hard would it be to add that drop down on the new story widget?

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

um i think you need to stop and think about this (3.00 / 2) (#99)
by cunt minded on Sat May 27, 2006 at 10:38:33 PM EST

do you really want to see the porn that kurons are going to post?

i sure as hell don't.

[ Parent ]

btw (2.25 / 4) (#23)
by a brief respite on Fri May 26, 2006 at 06:03:22 PM EST

japan is a nation of passive-aggressive cowards. the meek avoidance of face-to-face confrontation is hardly something western societies should strive towards. i value the comparative openness of americans.

"[in London] the wrong babes were hidden in black hijabs and long robes on the streets and in the parks."
[ Parent ]

yes! thank you for the racism! (2.66 / 3) (#24)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 26, 2006 at 06:12:04 PM EST

thank you for proving my points by exposing your ethnocentric low iq brainfart to the world!

welcome to planet earth

we're all human beings, but everyone has to be a giant fucking racist/ nationalist/ ethnocentric piece of shit

go fuck yourself you fucking racist asshole


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

are we all the same? i think not. (2.50 / 2) (#25)
by a brief respite on Fri May 26, 2006 at 06:28:15 PM EST

your implication that everybody is identical is patently false.

"[in London] the wrong babes were hidden in black hijabs and long robes on the streets and in the parks."
[ Parent ]

I think.. (2.66 / 3) (#26)
by Unski on Fri May 26, 2006 at 06:32:38 PM EST

..the esteemed gentleman means that we all have our prejudices, all of us. Or: 'your shit stinks as much as mine.'

[ Parent ]
NO YUO! (2.50 / 2) (#28)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 26, 2006 at 06:41:01 PM EST

MY SHIT SMELLS LIKE ROSES!

SUNLIGHT SHINES OUT OF MY ASS!


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I apologise CTS (3.00 / 4) (#29)
by Unski on Fri May 26, 2006 at 06:45:54 PM EST

I was too busy fucking myself, and sucking your dick, whilst being a douchebag, to realise the subtleties of you argument. It's difficult typing with every oriface occupied.

BTW My g/f wants to watch us, is this OK?

[ Parent ]
no, it's not ok (3.00 / 3) (#31)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 26, 2006 at 06:50:28 PM EST

sorry, i'm the jealous type

but tell your gf i'm interested in filling her openings more than yours


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Well I guess so (3.00 / 3) (#32)
by Unski on Fri May 26, 2006 at 06:55:55 PM EST

I could sit in the corner nursing your crackpipe whilst you tackle her..wanking furiously, as you quote sweet poetry to her as you have me. She likes to be on top and she likes her Subs obedient. Which is timely, as I am now going to have to defile her myself. The pleasure was mine though..

[ Parent ]
BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA (3.00 / 3) (#34)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 26, 2006 at 06:59:27 PM EST

you make this old troll smile ;-)


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
of course they aren't fucktard (2.50 / 2) (#27)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 26, 2006 at 06:35:24 PM EST

but the point is that what makes some of us good, some of us stupid, some of us brave, some of us angry, some of us gabby, etc., are factors that spread out to statistical pointlessness over a large enough population sample

such that it becomes mathematically useless to talk about nationality differences in terms of character

it is only useful to talk about individuals in terms of character differences

in other words, welcome to post-1945 berlin douchebag


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

you've never been to a foreign country, have you? (2.66 / 3) (#30)
by a brief respite on Fri May 26, 2006 at 06:48:00 PM EST

you sound like one of those inbred hicks who has never left new york city and is proud of it.

"[in London] the wrong babes were hidden in black hijabs and long robes on the streets and in the parks."
[ Parent ]

yeah (3.00 / 2) (#33)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 26, 2006 at 06:58:07 PM EST

you got me

saying that whereever you go in the world you meet the good, the bad, and the ugly is clearly an inbred provincial point of view of mine

i'm woefully out of touch with your subtle cosmopolitan understanding of the world's peoples, where all the japanese are subservient conformists, all the germans are exacting technocrats, all the brazilians are prurient sensualists, all the finns are morbid and depressed, etc.

that's the way to understand people: through retarded stereotypes

do i about understand the way you think you racist asshole?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

no, you are dense as always. (2.00 / 2) (#35)
by a brief respite on Fri May 26, 2006 at 07:02:06 PM EST


"[in London] the wrong babes were hidden in black hijabs and long robes on the streets and in the parks."
[ Parent ]

yes, i'm very dense (none / 1) (#36)
by circletimessquare on Fri May 26, 2006 at 07:03:28 PM EST

for championing the essential equality of all mankind against your retarded racial stereotypes

oh what a tool i am

(snicker)


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Lol (3.00 / 3) (#69)
by rusty on Sat May 27, 2006 at 10:09:15 AM EST

But all Germans are exacting technocrats.

Believe me on this. It's true.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

i just had to redesign a website (3.00 / 2) (#78)
by circletimessquare on Sat May 27, 2006 at 11:57:44 AM EST

where the css and the overall style of the website was designed by my boss's FOB german wife

oh. my. god.

it is true


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

you sir, are a fucking idiot (1.66 / 3) (#57)
by Ezra Loomis Pound on Sat May 27, 2006 at 01:07:35 AM EST



:::"Let me tell ya, if she wasn't cut out to handle some fake boy online, well sister, life only gets more difficult, and you only get more emo as you age." --balsamic vinigga :::#_#:::
[ Parent ]
omg u got me! (2.50 / 2) (#67)
by a brief respite on Sat May 27, 2006 at 09:00:34 AM EST


"[in London] the wrong babes were hidden in black hijabs and long robes on the streets and in the parks."
[ Parent ]

he did get you (2.50 / 2) (#77)
by circletimessquare on Sat May 27, 2006 at 11:55:54 AM EST

you ARE a fucking racist idiot


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
lol and you're a shitsucking racist scumbag (2.00 / 2) (#82)
by a brief respite on Sat May 27, 2006 at 03:18:21 PM EST


"[in London] the wrong babes were hidden in black hijabs and long robes on the streets and in the parks."
[ Parent ]

how does that work? nt (none / 0) (#104)
by circletimessquare on Sat May 27, 2006 at 11:45:30 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
and YOU, sir (none / 0) (#94)
by Patrick Chalmers on Sat May 27, 2006 at 07:17:28 PM EST

stole the idea of naming yourself after famous modernist writers from me.
Holy crap, working comment search!
[ Parent ]
a rebuttal (2.83 / 6) (#66)
by fenix down on Sat May 27, 2006 at 05:18:02 AM EST

 ___
|^  O
|_\/|\__  
\       \ O  
O\       \|O
 O\       \|
IF WE WASTE ANYMORE TIME ON "WEEABOO" WE'LL BE BANKRUPT BY THE END OF THE MONTH!

__ /O  
  \ |
   \ O
    \|
DID SOMEONE JUST SAY "WEEABOO?"
     ____
    /~~~ \
   ( @ @  )
   ( ___  )
 _  \\_/ /
( \/|    \\
(  \|     \\
C\  \     //
'CAUSE I THINK I JUST HEARD SOMEONE SAY "WEEABOO."

__     ()
|\\O  O()   \O
|  | /|/  O  |\
|  D  |  /|> O
| /| / )  | <|>
WEE-A-BOO! WEE-A-BOO!


[ Parent ]

i'm happy to say (2.50 / 2) (#76)
by circletimessquare on Sat May 27, 2006 at 11:55:22 AM EST

i have no fucking clue what that is

but i'm entertained nontheless

you make cts clap and drool and smile like a retard

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

L@@K! OVER HERE! (3.00 / 3) (#92)
by Patrick Chalmers on Sat May 27, 2006 at 07:12:08 PM EST

http://70.86.201.113/imageserv2/stilltemporary/PBF009BCWeeaboo.html
Holy crap, working comment search!
[ Parent ]
thanks (3.00 / 2) (#100)
by cunt minded on Sat May 27, 2006 at 10:43:16 PM EST

without that link i would never have figured out what the fuck that was.

[ Parent ]
All of you people suck donkey balls! (2.66 / 3) (#71)
by I am so inane on Sat May 27, 2006 at 10:20:48 AM EST

Uhh, wait a sec... I think I missed something... something vital to a good troll. Something about... being... being... FUCK! I forgot.

That's your fault as well. Especially CTS' fault! I hate that guy!

[ Parent ]

cts is such an asshole nt (none / 1) (#75)
by circletimessquare on Sat May 27, 2006 at 11:54:23 AM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
hrm (1.00 / 3) (#83)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Sat May 27, 2006 at 03:33:36 PM EST

I deny the necessity of your definition of human nature. I believe that while perhaps it is even true that humans are currently this way, it is not necessary that is all we can become. Now what we are willing to do to avert a 'channel 2' future is entirely up for debate, of course. If anything, I'd even venture a guess that you are describing the american nature, and your nature, which is somewhat but not really wholly representive to the world as a whole.
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
you don't understand human nature (none / 0) (#103)
by circletimessquare on Sat May 27, 2006 at 11:44:29 PM EST

it is good, bad, and ugly

always was, always will be

it will never, ever be just good

or just good and bad

it will always forever, by definition, be good bad and ugly


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I keep forgetting (1.00 / 5) (#118)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Sun May 28, 2006 at 10:27:08 PM EST

that we speak different languages. I think this specific subthread has become unintelligable.
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
we do speak different languages (none / 0) (#121)
by circletimessquare on Mon May 29, 2006 at 12:12:01 AM EST

i speak reality

you speak ivory tower


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Voted 2: true, but uninformative (none / 0) (#91)
by Patrick Chalmers on Sat May 27, 2006 at 07:10:44 PM EST

To clarify: not one word of your comment is a lie. But we know all this already; how does it help?
Holy crap, working comment search!
[ Parent ]
"how does it help" (none / 1) (#102)
by circletimessquare on Sat May 27, 2006 at 11:43:19 PM EST

is a query that implies something needs helping

maybe you don't get it yet


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

You decadent Roman (none / 1) (#114)
by DaoDePhys on Sun May 28, 2006 at 02:48:51 PM EST

circletimessquare, you're quite interesting in your honest delirium. Does it mean you see open-source as having no future? Let's see...

You don't seem to believe much that some people have good will, have genuine reasons to be happy, or an ounce of purity.

You seem to appreciate what is socially considered vulgar as a way to embrace some "whole truth"

You are into pornography/violence/etc catharsis as a good Hedonist/"Epicurian"

Funny, old debates all over again... are you stuck in these currents? I do not wish to care if I shock, or if I do not; Is it a shield against currents, is it Dao?

Ok, what's you're address so I send you a monk or exorcist? I used to happily discuss with religious groups knocking at my door, and it made me simply stronger. But the day when you get intellectually more than random door-knocking, it's no time to kid oneself anymore.

So, do you evaluate open-source and others from a conciously elitist/snob point of view of "the enlightened one accepting how shitty it is"? Or do you see something positive from which to actually do something?

PS: If I can figure out how to get it, I'll get your movie, its Internet demo or whatnot. Cheers :)

[ Parent ]

the cathedral and the bazaar (none / 0) (#120)
by circletimessquare on Mon May 29, 2006 at 12:11:25 AM EST

you see me as championing cathedral?

or bazaar?

where is open source made?

where do i stand again in your pov again?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

bazaars and cathedrals of thin air? (none / 0) (#125)
by DaoDePhys on Mon May 29, 2006 at 03:05:47 PM EST

I don't think that you are actually championing, pushing objectives. There are good chances that you mostly just are in some way, and it expresses like it does.

I don't know if you have more of a one-piece cathedral or a bazaar. You know more than me, but I'd expect a mix.

Back to open source: this kind of system is from humans and tends to have a positive view of them. So I wonder if you aren't downplaying its efficiency by your cathedral/bazaar. Agreed, lots of zealots don't seem to see the limits of "how mecanisms actually work", but it changes nothing to actual results (within boundaries: centralized open source programming, or Toyota, are less glitzy).

Overall: I have the impression that your global view lures you in downplaying open source. Interesting to see this "specific opinion"-"global view" link; Anyway, you see my questioning about your world view in my post.

[ Parent ]

zzzz (none / 0) (#126)
by circletimessquare on Mon May 29, 2006 at 04:20:29 PM EST

you're pretty loopy

you have difficulty pinning down your thoughts

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Might be right... :-( (none / 0) (#127)
by DaoDePhys on Mon May 29, 2006 at 09:04:06 PM EST

I kinda noticed some issues but just seeing it doesn't give me the right solutions (if you have that, kick ahead).

I'll try again; Take 2:

I don't think you are necessarily championing anything. Your cathedral-bazaar can just show itself in something you say/do.

But whattever that, I wonder if you aren't downplaying the efficiency of open source because it bases itself on positive views about humans. Alright, I'm not saying that supreme idealists get the whole picture. But there are results out of the demagogic glitz ie.non-decentralized projects or Toyota's system. It is less clearly the hacker's dream, but it shows directions which worked.

I have the impression that your global view lures you in downplaying open source. You can see my skepticism about this world view in my first post.

[ Parent ]

slow down (none / 0) (#128)
by circletimessquare on Mon May 29, 2006 at 11:55:34 PM EST

i think your words means you support the death penalty

huh?!

think maybe i'm putting words in your mouth?

well same here dipshit

how about i tell you what i believe?

sound far-fetched to you?

and that i believe in open source

does that sound acceptable to you? or do you aleready have me all figured out in your loopy world?

anything else you want to fucking tell me i believe?

jesus christ on a fucking pogo stick


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

1/you (none / 0) (#130)
by DaoDePhys on Tue May 30, 2006 at 12:33:55 AM EST

It's just macro vs micro. You posted all over the place, so it's not hard to wonder if it's pertinent here, as I asked openly.

I'll say you what you believe when I'll say you what you believe. Until then, it'll be what I wrote and no more: Your points seem to downplay the benefits by concentrating on limits. Would you see a link to the macro I brought initially?

I find both your micro and macro as a challenge, so sorry for that. I just appreciate different views so much that I discuss with people from different grounds

does that sound acceptable to you? or do you aleready have me all figured out in your jumpy world?

sausage on a pogo stick

PS: I found the movie preview. Thx

[ Parent ]

dude (none / 0) (#131)
by circletimessquare on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:35:22 PM EST

get off the methamphetamine


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Could you even answer once out of 4?.. (none / 0) (#137)
by DaoDePhys on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 02:37:32 PM EST

You specialized on non-answering to what I brought, time after time. Should I use STQ language instead of bringing points?

Alright.. I just end up wondering if it's self-righteousness or language issues.

[ Parent ]

translation: (3.00 / 2) (#117)
by Entendre Entendre on Sun May 28, 2006 at 09:58:45 PM EST

I surround myself with idiots

for example, this place is full of idiots

and that place is full of idiots

therefore, the world consists entirely of idiots.

--

I agree with cts about everything but the conclusion. There are plenty of online communities with very little wankery and crapfloodery, and the world is a better place for them.

The only difference between those forums and this on is each of those has a purpose, and the participants are there because of that purpuse. In a forum with no purpose, you get the behavior that cts described. In a forum with a purpose, there's a fair chance that people really will contribute toward that purpose. This is not theorizing or speculation, there are already plenty of existence proofs, many of which have been around for years.

Wikipedia, in trying to cover everything, may have a harder time keeping focused on that purpose, but that doesn't mean it can't be done.

--
Reduce firearm violence: aim carefully.
[ Parent ]

well yeah (none / 0) (#119)
by circletimessquare on Mon May 29, 2006 at 12:08:56 AM EST

if i make a site about grandma's muffins and with an iron fist rule out all posts except those strictly focused on grandma's muffins, i have a site with a singleminded purpose as you describe

and 2 users

who post 2 times a year

for sites of large social import and large social impact, micromanaging your "purpose" has little meaning or scope

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

yes and no (none / 1) (#122)
by Entendre Entendre on Mon May 29, 2006 at 02:10:13 AM EST

If you make a site about something that people take seriously, such as a sport (n.b. a site for people who take part, not for spectators), or people with an interest in a challenging subject, you can get thousands of people posting thousands of times per year. You get participants who want to learn, or pass on lessons they've learned. Passers-by who aren't interested in the subject are easy to spot and they pretty much just get ignored. And few complain when that type gets banned.

Perhaps not coincidentally, at sites like that you find more people using their real names, people who know each other offline, and local/regional/national events where people get together face-to-face. These are communities where people care about their reputations.

Whereas at sites where there's no relationship to any offline activity (like this one, for example), things inevitably devolve into what you describe. With no offline interaction, there's no regard for offline reputation, and things go downhill from there.

(And of course it's not strictly binary, there's a big grey area in between.)

I guess I'd have to agree that it's human nature to act like an idiot when there are no repercussions, where there is no accountability for idiocy. But in communities where people care about their reputations, it's also human nature not to act like an idiot. Wikipedia could be one of the latter. It could also devolve into WiK5, but I think the odds are in its favor.

--
Reduce firearm violence: aim carefully.
[ Parent ]

take your sport site for example (none / 0) (#123)
by circletimessquare on Mon May 29, 2006 at 02:23:16 AM EST

why do people go there?

to blow off steam

and so negativity will blossom

and any attempt to turn said sport site into a socratic dispassionate discussion to kill the negativity will, at the same time, kill the site's passion as well, and thereby kill its traffic and anything that makes it remotely attractive

it's not like negativity ruins a site

negativity is a cause, not an effect

it is a symptom of passion


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

existence proofs (none / 0) (#129)
by Entendre Entendre on Tue May 30, 2006 at 12:21:59 AM EST

You have an interesting theory, but there are existence proofs to the contrary.

I'm on two sites that have been around for about ten years, plus one that dates back to about '98. Plus one that I just got into a few months ago - I don't know how long it's been around but it has several forums with over 100k posts so they've either been around for a while or they've attracted a lot of interests. At all of them, the attitude is entirely civil. There's an occasional outbreak of stupidity but it's rare and the signal-to-noise ratio stays high.

People come to those sites not to blow off steam but to focus on the subject.

--
Reduce firearm violence: aim carefully.
[ Parent ]

names? nt (none / 0) (#133)
by circletimessquare on Tue May 30, 2006 at 04:42:56 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
yes, they have names (none / 0) (#134)
by Entendre Entendre on Wed May 31, 2006 at 01:24:00 AM EST

No, I won't be sharing them. I post on those fora under my real name, and would rather not have my K5 account connected with my meatspace account.

Pick a technical subject that mostly only interests people over the age of 20 or so, and look for a forum. Or look for forums on that subject that cater to people past their teenage years. Or better yet, forums that cater to a facet of the subject that mostly interests people who can legally drink in the US.

--
Reduce firearm violence: aim carefully.
[ Parent ]

I haven't found the same reaction you claim (2.88 / 9) (#38)
by Delirium on Fri May 26, 2006 at 07:15:56 PM EST

For academics, strong collaboration seems to have produced bewildering amounts of information more quickly and efficiently than they have ever seen; but the information is typically of self-evidently low quality. Traditional information producers are intrigued by and envious of collaborative content production, but they cannot see how to make it work to produce information that meets their own requirements. The main puzzlement that academics and (more generally) traditional information producers cannot get past are the two above-named essential features of strong collaboration: shared ownership and self-direction.
As an academic who of course regularly talks to many other academics, this isn't my experience. Most academics are indeed much more skeptical of Wikipedia than Wikipedians such as myself are, but not quite for these reasons.

First of all, the information is not of "self-evidently low quality", and I rarely hear it described as such by people who have used Wikipedia to any significant extent. Instead, the problem is that the information is spotty: Some of it is of very clearly high quality, some of it is decent, and some of it is of quite low quality. The problem is not that Wikipedia lacks good information, but that, given a random choice of article, the probability that it contains good information and no erroneous information is not nearly as high as one would like.

That's a quite different problem.

I think the first step to solving it is rather less radical a change from Wikipedia's current practice than you propose. Much of the problem is basically that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia in progress, and the reader is walking right into the middle of the editing room without any signs telling him which articles are ready to read yet. It would not take subject-matter experts to roughly categorize articles in that manner. Wikipedia already does this rudimentarily on both the high- and low-quality ends: There are "featured articles" which are deemed to be good, and various tags splashed onto the top of articles identified as bad or needing work, in order to warn the potential reader that the article is not yet really ready for prime-time.

The only real problem with all that is: 1) It's on too ad-hoc a basis; and 2) it's not for particular revisions. The second problem is particularly annoying, because a very good article could have at any particular instant had some riotously untrue claim inserted into it; even if it's removed seconds later, the reader cannot be perfectly sure that anyone at all has vetted the current version. A system to tag revisions with Wikipedians' perception of their quality would go a long way towards solving this, and has been proposed but not yet implemented.

I think that would take care of a huge percentage of the problems. Is that enough? It's unclear; perhaps subject-matter experts really are needed to vet some articles. However, I don't think that's the obvious first step: First, there needs to be a system in place to start vetting articles that anyone can vet. If everyone involved knows that an article sucks and is very much in the process of being rewritten, it's a waste of time to consult an expert to tell you the same thing. Only after that triage has been performed, is it worth bringing in subject-matter experts to vet the articles that have been deemed ready for review.

All this isn't to say that experts shouldn't be involved with writing articles; many articles on Wikipedia already have heavy involvement from subject-matter experts. But I think a separate process for experts is not really needed at this stage; rather, all that's needed is some better categorization of the editing-room tables so that the reader who wanders in unawares is a little less baffled.

"Open meritocracy", my arse (2.66 / 3) (#40)
by ksandstr on Fri May 26, 2006 at 07:39:30 PM EST

More personal fame leads to more drama, more precious little princesses and more "well, I have formal authority status on this matter, so!". That's hardly what the next iteration of Wikipedia needs. Take a look at everything2 for an example of where not to go.

Admittedly, I only read the first few paragraphs of this holy assload of an article. Were this an editorial comment I'd suggest splitting it up, or making the series a four- or five-part one. In any case, after those paragraphs I lumped this article in with the other theories on how forums with forced registration (and the associated "post count" dick size factor, user ratings, banninations and so forth) are somehow better than forums with system- or community-enforced anonymity.

Fin.

Some comments from an academic (2.88 / 9) (#41)
by The Diary Section on Fri May 26, 2006 at 07:47:18 PM EST

First, I don't write a shopping list without putting my name, affiliation and correspondence address at the bottom. Asking me to work on anything (serious..articles about conkers I'm cool with) without direct (and uncontested) credit as an author is impossible. All we have is our bibliometry.  This also means publishing in the recognised top journals with strong peer review. Success is measured best by citation rate in other top journals. It is that list of publications on my CV that is my most important credential and is my only capital, and is essential in terms of looking for work, grants and consultancy. A bye-line isn't enough, hell, fourth or fifth authorship in the existing system is more or less useless to me.

It isn't egomania, author credit is all we have to show for our efforts. True, there is also contributing to human knowledge and so on, but than it itself doesn't pay the bills. It would be nice if this stuff didn't matter and it was all about the work, but we don't live in that society. Then again, the situation wasn't really all that different in the time of Newton. So yes, we are going to dismiss that suggestion out of hand because you are effectively asking us to sabotage our careers.

Second, science is a collaborative venture. I've never refused data or even equipment to a peer, and they've yet to turn me down either. Nearly all the work I've ever done has been collaborative in nature and  again, I've yet to turn down a serious request to work with someone whether I know them well or not. If you have a substantive comment to make or information to share, you can. In time that contribution will get rolled into the tapestry of reports, theories and data that make up the field. Review articles exist and serve specific functions but I feel its untenable to expect human knowledge to exist on a single set of linked web pages. You also lose the evolutionary/economic side of the biblometric process; bad things get ignored and forgotten, good things get cited and become well known. Certainly there are times when this process may not work 100% but it seems to do is well in practice. I'm not sure I understand why you are suggesting there is some sort of collaboration gap or that we are averse to it.

Third, and I know this ironic because I'm posting here (but K5 is recreational to me), you seem to be assuming we have the time to deal with this. We don't. Its hard enought to keep up with one's institutional responsibilities (teaching etc), scientific responsibilities (publishing, actually doing the research, buying equipment etc) and professional responsibilities (advising policy makers, reviewing journal submissions, various national and international boards and committees) without adding all this time spent playing around the internet dealing with its various well-meaning incompetents, the axe-grinding conspiracy theorists and the just plain mad. I am aware this sounds elitist but for it to be worth investing my time in a project with someone else (or even just reading carefully what they've written), I need some sort of security they are bona fide. Again, it would be nice if it wasn't this way, but the reality of the situation is that it has to be.

Fourth, you seem to be drifting towards the mistake many people who are interested in the internet make when they think about publishing and collaboration. The end product, that is the "tradionally produced" information is the end product, not the starting place. The main problem with wikipedia is not that "anybody can edit it" its that the people who edit it begin their editorial contribution by cranking up their web browser when it should begin in the stacks of a library or wherever. Unfortunately this isn't particularly cool or trendy and won't get your face in Wired magazine. The issue is not the wrapping on the sausage, its what went into it in the first place.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.

Redux (3.00 / 2) (#42)
by The Diary Section on Fri May 26, 2006 at 08:00:17 PM EST

I'll work as part of an open meritocracy around the time someone finds me an open-souce decorator to repaint my kitchen for free.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]
Yep.. (none / 0) (#111)
by DaoDePhys on Sun May 28, 2006 at 01:35:44 PM EST

I understand your use for open-source decorators, so would you see how your environment could become efficiently more "open source"? I know that it happened to some companies, like Toyota.

[ Parent ]
I'm also an academic (3.00 / 6) (#47)
by Delirium on Fri May 26, 2006 at 08:54:17 PM EST

And this certainly isn't how I think. Yes, journal articles with high citation rates are all that goes on your CV, but 100% of your waking hours don't have to be spent padding the CV (especially once you have tenure). I've "wasted" time cleaning up research software to a state where it can be releasable and usable by others, even though it doesn't buy me any additional credit (the paper was already published), because I think that contributes to the progress of science by avoiding everyone having to constantly reimplement the same stuff

The reason I'm in academia in the first place is because I care about the progress of science, not the other way around. That's not to say I can completely disregard my career and act 100% idealistically, but neither can career moves be the only thing driving all decisions; if that were the case, I'd move to industry and get a fatter paycheck.

As for traditionally produced information, frankly a lot of peer-reviewed stuff is pretty much crap, written less out of a desire to inform others, and more out of a desire to get that coveted line on the CV, with the whole enterprise turning into a game to sneak as much crap as possible by the reviewers while doing the minimum possible to actually advance the field. Much of it is less well referenced than a typical Wikipedia article, or only references papers of the author's research group or ideological clique, ignoring or dismissing in passing those of their competitors or just people who do stuff they personally think sucks. This is all less true in the really top journals like Nature and Science, but they contain only a small proportion of scientific papers.

Books are even worse. There's a bit of a vetting process at places like MIT Press, but people can and do still get some hugely one-sided, biased crap published.

Anyway, I'd say Wikipedia has different strengths. On a popular subject, if you compare a Wikipedia article to a book from MIT Press or even a typical journal article, the Wikipedia article is more likely to contain technical errors, but less likely to contain a completely one-sided presentation of the issue. In the end, neither one is useful as a source in isolation: You can't really know what to make of statistics by reading only Wikipedia articles on the subject, but you also can't really know what to make of statistics only by reading books authored by Judea Pearl (whatever he may claim). And of those two options, you're probably better off reading the Wikipedia articles.

[ Parent ]

A question for you (3.00 / 6) (#48)
by The Diary Section on Fri May 26, 2006 at 09:04:27 PM EST

how much does it cost for you do something that could result in a publication? If you are sitting around writing software its one thing. You're doing something in a lab, its quite another. Nobody is going to sink millions into a project so that it can be written up by two hundred people in  wikipedia.

It isn't really padding my CV I'm talking about as such, its thats with the cost (and time is part but not all of this) of much scientific work people expect results and the universally recognised form of "results" is a peer reviewed article. Also, yes I also care about science and its application and all that but on the other hand, this article isn't about the small things you do, its what should happen years of work, the main core of it. I'm not saying I like the way things are but just because someone cranks up a website it isn't going to change how things like tenure boards work.

I think in my comment I listed about 10 things that I do that aren't to do with padding out my CV anyway so you are being a little unfair to paint me as a careerist because I'm certainly not. I think I also mention biblometry. Crap journal, crap standards, crap citation rate.. the system works because you'll get what deserve which is a crap publication.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]

we're talking about review articles, though (3.00 / 4) (#49)
by Delirium on Fri May 26, 2006 at 09:17:23 PM EST

I had in mind articles like what Wikipedia has, which are basically review articles, not original research. Review articles shouldn't really cost anything to write except time, and certainly not millions of dollars.

I do agree that writing Wikipedia articles can't be your 24/7 occupation; and I didn't mean to suggest that you only do career-focused stuff; I'm just suggesting that it's not unreasonable to think that some of us will make writing Wikipedia articles one of the things we do in our spare time. If you're arguing more against Larry's proposal here than the Wikipedia model that may have some more merit, since he does seem to be envisioning a more wholesale time committment; I suppose the discussion here is a bit mixed up between "Wikipedia doesn't work" and "Larry's new proposal won't work", and "neither works".

As for crap work, I'm not sure the system works quite so well, at least in some areas I'm familiar with. Often there are academic fads which get popular for a few years (sometimes quite a few years), are hugely cited, get further reinforced because they're now what's trendy with the funding agencies, but all along actually suck. Perhaps in the long term they get weeded out; it's hard to say, and probably depends on the field and the fad.

[ Parent ]

Well I read it differently maybe (3.00 / 3) (#50)
by The Diary Section on Fri May 26, 2006 at 10:06:22 PM EST

I think what gets my goat is the suggestion that our resistance is because we "don't get it" when really its more to do with several concrete real-world issues that are simply not addressed. We can all dream the dream I suppose but as I say, we don't live in that society. And you're right, its very much the large investment of time and effort that bothers me. If this is just a casual suggestion then fine, its a neat enough idea, but I'm not sure it necessarily goes anywhere, perhaps I'm taking him too seriously?

Wikipedia isn't my main bone of contention at all, I used the example to make the point. In the article Larry talks about "fans of collaboration" and these people are the problem. There already exist means of collaboration and coworking for people with the basic credentials and served apprenticeship to do these things. So who are these other people? They are people who like internetty type things and Wired 2.0 zeitgeisty stuff, post on Slashdot, wear t-shirts about how they "get it", use the term "business model" in a trite way and it makes them feel all warm and tingly. But they have no place in this unless all they write about is, say, online collaboration systems. What is required are "fans of the subject" who already exist and are already collaborating and coworking and have been doing so productively for hundreds of years. It also requires the iron will to make difficult things happen, something that the online dillatente isn't going to be capable of. If this sounds elitist, look what happens with the poster-child of free collaboration, open source software. I cant find the link but I recently saw a study that showed that whilst the amount of chat around OS software is increasing, the level of action is exactly the same as it was in the mid-1990s. The "fans of collaboration" might post to Slashdot in their thousands but when it comes to sitting up all night with the code and tracing bugs, they aren't interested.

I have no objection to, say, the clued-up amateur or the professional (who isn't actually an academic) contributing, indeed I think these people should be brought into the fold more and I'm involved with some of them at the time of writing to do just this via the conventional channels. But they have more than "minimal authority" behind them.

Further, there is also the issue that science is being likened to open source software. It isn't the same thing. In general science requires a line to be taken, or a POV as the wikiepedians have it.  Its about vision as much as cold-hearted measuring and this needs an absolutely tyrannical dictator not a minimal authority. Indeed, just in OS software itself, the pathetic state of UI design can be linked directly to this  requirement (there is a nice Don Norman piece on this somewhere but I can't find it). This need for a POV is particularly true of review articles actually in my view where there is so much information it must be reduced to a cohesive whole in accordance with some sort of principle right? A non-POV review article on anything matter of substance would otherwise necessarily fill thousands of pages and you might as well just cut and paste all the article abstracts for all the joy it would bring you.

Finally, having spent the day fighting off an industry type who seemed to expect me to do all sorts of things for him for nothing I'm not in a particularly good place mentally over that general issue. Nobody asks decorators or plumbers to work for nothing. I already do enough pro bono type work which is right and proper given I'm effectively a public servant. But there is a line that has to be drawn somewhere...

Anyhow, just realised I've written more in criticism than is in the original article itself. Heyho. I'm not against the general idea, its the practicality of it.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]

I suppose my general view is different (3.00 / 3) (#52)
by Delirium on Fri May 26, 2006 at 11:48:06 PM EST

I start with a different assessment of how successful open-source approaches have been in software. I personally use basically only open-source software, and I find it's of higher quality and serves my needs better. We can argue back and forth about it, but it seems that it's true of professionals that "when it comes to sitting up all night with the code and tracing bugs, they aren't interested". If someone's getting paid to do it, it seems they treat it as a 9-5 and go home with a million bugs still present. By contrast, if anything breaks in Debian (even applications, not just the core OS), I file a bugreport at bugs.debian.org, usually get a personal acknowledgement within 24 hours, people start running tests and trying to isolate the problem, and the problem is usually patched and fixed within a few days. If something breaks on Windows XP Professional, I give up and just reboot. The same goes for legions of other software; and if push comes to shove, I can fix it (or extend it) myself.

If proprietary software lies in a critical path for my research, it's almost always come back to bite me in the ass. Either something that turns out to be critical to me will be broken, and not scheduled to be fixed until the next version (which comes out "really soon now"), or else I'll want to change one little thing to fit in with the rest of my workflow, but that tiny change is completely impossible, and of course I don't have the code so can't do it myself, and the company won't do it for me unless I'm a multi-million-dollar customer.

It's such a different feeling to know that there's a large community of volunteers standing behind the software willing to fix any bugs that come up immediately, not in the next release cycle, in contrast to a corporation that's taken my $300, dumped the product out the door, and doesn't care to hear any feedback or fix anything that turns out to be broken. And if I need something changed, not only do I have the code to do it myself (especially for really minor stuff), but I can even submit feature requests and have them taken seriously—with really simple stuff I've sometimes gotten my requested features implemented within a matter of days.

So in that case, I think it definitely is the right thing to do, and I think proprietary software has for the most part been utterly useless, at least from the perspective of a simple end-user who isn't purchasing a multi-million-dollar "services" contract. The volunteers simply make more reliable stuff and are more responsive to my bug reports and requests.

Anyway, I do think some more collaboration could be useful in science. For example, look at what happens in graphics research. Stanford's developed a bunch of stuff, and they keep their code to themselves; every year they have a new SIGGRAPH paper making some incremental advance on it. They have a built-in competitiveness moat, because they won't share their code, so nobody else can research anything that builds on their whole line of work without reimplementing the entire thing from scratch. Is that in the best interests of scientific progress? No, but it serves some scientists' professional and monetary interests. There's a lot of that sort of thing going on in biotech, too.

That doesn't mean I think everyone needs to run their experiments and write their papers with random people over the internet, which is perhaps what Larry seems to be suggesting, but I do think scientists should make more stuff available over the internet to random passserby.

As for review articles, I agree to some extent, but sometimes I really do just want an overview of the field that's as neutral as possible. I don't want it from a guy who I know has a particular take on it; I just want someone to read all the crap and summarize it for me. Often it's a tangentially related field that I just want a quick summary of. Maybe I know nothing about group theory, and want the 2-page introduction to group theory. That's basically the place for encyclopedia articles. Wikipedia does a pretty good job of that, IMO, although admittedly some articles are much better than others. I think it does (or is at least on track to doing) a much better job of that than the commercial encyclopedia publishers do.

[ Parent ]

Well if it comes down to that (3.00 / 5) (#55)
by The Diary Section on Sat May 27, 2006 at 12:37:06 AM EST

the idea is its wikipedia with an extra level of authority then I have no real objection to that, although (yet another issue...sorry) its a hell of a lot of exposure to attach your real name and reputation to something you have no real control over. The Catch-22 is that to make a lot of effort, as I've already grumbled about, there needs to be some sort of payback. Certainly I've tried to get involved in the Wikipedia thing in the past but unfortunately I got in a fight with some kid who'd misunderstood something he'd read in a pop science book and I just gave up mainly out of lack of stamina. Maybe we can get Larry to explain though, because I thought he was talking about something a bit more high-powered than that (hence the discussion of academics and their problems with authorship and assignment).

I definitely agree that information should be more freely disseminated. As regards the publishers of scientific journals, I don't have a lot of sympathy for them given we do all the work (writing, reviewing, editing and these days our own copyediting and layout) for nothing. Some people actually think we get paid royalties you know (if only). But of course what makes a journal (like a church if you will) is not the paper, its the people. Here is an example of a free online journal that is in my view very succesful both as a proposition and in academic terms. Its free because it uses the internet but its validity and so on ultimately rests on the trad peer review process. Not sure a see a role for "fans of collaboration" in it though outside the usual channels.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]

Tangent Re: open source (3.00 / 3) (#68)
by rusty on Sat May 27, 2006 at 09:56:18 AM EST

I realize this is totally tangenetial to this whole discussion, but it's worth noting that it's an awful lot easier to find yourself using free software these days than it was in the 90's. Anyone who's bought an Apple machine in the past few years has all kinds of great free software right there.

I don't know what the level of development activity is now compared to then, but I do know that in terms of market penetration, Free software has come a very long way.

The other thing worth noting is that it's a lot easier to work on free software now and make a living. In addition to all the people Apple's employing to develop OS X, there's a pretty healthy number of shops that work with free software because they see themselves as service businesses, not software businesses. They don't get a lot of attention, but there's an awful lot of them out there.

To get back to your point a little bit though, I would also say that the most successful open source projects work exactly as you describe science -- someone has a vision, and the code ultimately is made to conform to that vision. The more anarchic a project is, the less coherent the software is. It's the ironic truth that so few casual observers realize about open source -- for all the "free love" rhetoric, the best projects are dictatorships at heart.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Here is the article (none / 0) (#132)
by The Diary Section on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:03:41 PM EST

I had in mind. I will admit not 100% as represented but I think its recognisable (it was the graph from Apache that stuck in my mind).

Rather ironically I had also forgotten that it mentioned this: So-called "edit wars" dominated the online discussions, biases were legitimised as "another point of view" and specialists openly sneered. Many contributors were driven away by the fractious atmosphere (including Mr Sanger, who went on to pen essays predicting Wikipedia's vulnerability to abuse).

I agree with the thrust of what you are saying. Perhaps I should have been more careful and made a clear process vs. product distinction. Apache, for example, is an excellent piece of software in my view. OTOH, it is also true as they say that its base of active contributors is not as wide as is often supposed. The quality of the product does not logically always vindicate the process as anyone who has done good work in bad circumstances  (and then realised they've just made a rod for their own back) knows all too well.

Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]

nitpick (none / 0) (#135)
by Delirium on Wed May 31, 2006 at 09:24:54 AM EST

Sanger wasn't "driven away by the fractious atmosphere"; he left because Wales decided the project no longer needed a paid overseer, and so stopped paying him.

[ Parent ]
as a fellow academic : IAWTP (none / 1) (#54)
by nostalgiphile on Sat May 27, 2006 at 12:26:16 AM EST

Esp. the final, highly delicious paragraph,
Anyway, I'd say Wikipedia has different strengths. On a popular subject, if you compare a Wikipedia article to a book from MIT Press or even a typical journal article, the Wikipedia article is more likely to contain technical errors, but less likely to contain a completely one-sided presentation of the issue. In the end, neither one is useful as a source in isolation: You can't really know what to make of statistics by reading only Wikipedia articles on the subject, but you also can't really know what to make of statistics only by reading books authored by Judea Pearl (whatever he may claim). And of those two options, you're probably better off reading the Wikipedia articles.
You tell 'em, hombre!

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
You rule. (none / 0) (#90)
by Patrick Chalmers on Sat May 27, 2006 at 07:06:36 PM EST

Seriously.
Holy crap, working comment search!
[ Parent ]
So that is not your role... (none / 1) (#113)
by Entendre Entendre on Sun May 28, 2006 at 02:33:55 PM EST

Your role is to do original research.

Wikipedia's role is to be a magnet for people who enjoy reading your papers and summarizing and/or translating them for the masses.

--
Reduce firearm violence: aim carefully.
[ Parent ]

Genghis Khan ran a meritocracy too. 0x0 (2.00 / 3) (#45)
by sudog on Fri May 26, 2006 at 08:33:39 PM EST



you're wrong (none / 1) (#112)
by circletimessquare on Sun May 28, 2006 at 02:20:59 PM EST

there's a difference between a meritocracy, and full-contact social darwinism

it's one thing to live in a society where if your work is useful you prosper financially, but you still have social safety nets to fall back on

it's another thing to live in a society where if you simply break your leg and die starving in the street sinply for that, everyone else ignores you, or they flat out loot your body as you draw your last breathe


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

You don't know anything about Genghis. (none / 1) (#124)
by sudog on Mon May 29, 2006 at 12:20:03 PM EST

I just want to point out that I recognise your troll for what it is, and I know you've seen me write about Genghis before. Therefore, this will be my last response in this thread.

You're completely clueless about the Mongols.

Genghis Khan and the subsequent Mongol Empire was the first to institute Empire-wide, law-backed religious tolerance, implemented accessible higher education centres, was the first to implement state-sponsored health centres and services staffed with qualified doctors, and one of the first to restart a push forward scientifically and empirically for technology and medicine.

None of the empires they conquered had anything close to that. Why do you think Genghis was so successful? How the hell do you think 50,000 armed horsemen could conquer empires of millions? It certainly wasn't because he was a nasty unfair brute. It was because those who joined them and paid taxes were very well rewarded with a significant rise in their standards of living, and there were social benefits to joining the Mongol empire.

No, the Mongols had a pure meritocracy. Artisans, craftsmen, and engineers were prized and respected, those who joined (or were subjugated by) the Mongol empire experienced trade and wealth beyond their wildest dreams, dictators and monarchs and assassin strongholds were swept away, and pretty much all of Asia and Europe experienced a golden age that in many scholars views was the genesis of the modern world.

In fact, they'd probably still be going strong (or at least have lasted a few more hundred years) if the Black Plague, which was brought on by fleas on the rats transported by the trade routes the Mongols opened up, hadn't killed off a large cross-section of their empire.

I wanted to close by saying that people like you have been brainwashed by European scribes centuries ago. In a sense, you've been trolled by Genghis himself, who was quite happy to use fear and propaganda as a tool to help him win wars. The truth, fortunately, is a little easier to separate out, especially when those same scribes write truthfully about how Genghis had "fire-breathing dragons" flying low over their cities and eating civilians.


[ Parent ]

so what you're saying is (2.00 / 5) (#46)
by foon on Fri May 26, 2006 at 08:45:15 PM EST

That the collaborative portals of the future will combine the Wikipedia's low standards of factual accuracy and rampant disregard for copyright laws with the narrow-minded, intolerant groupthink censorship of the Daily Kos? That sounds great, where can I sign up?

right here asshole (3.00 / 2) (#58)
by circletimessquare on Sat May 27, 2006 at 01:13:09 AM EST

you're commenting in it

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
this comment made me laugh (3.00 / 2) (#63)
by Delirium on Sat May 27, 2006 at 02:04:07 AM EST

Although I don't believe it to be strictly accurate.

[ Parent ]
Key missing ingredient (3.00 / 6) (#70)
by rusty on Sat May 27, 2006 at 10:15:07 AM EST

Really, cts is right, except for something that is present on wikipedia and dkos, but has finally worked its way out of K5 -- a rigid sense of self-importance.

K5's difference is (I would say solely) that we don't really take ourselves seriously anymore. I mean, we all have moments of seriousness, but no one thinks that if we could just have this one feature or that one, or get rid of some troll, we'd finally be able to cure cancer online.

It's a website, it's made of peple, and all the things that apply to groups of people in real life apply here too. Eventually, I expect people on most other sites to realize that as well.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

I betray your point by 3'ing your post. (nt) (3.00 / 2) (#79)
by Scott Robinson on Sat May 27, 2006 at 12:52:39 PM EST



[ Parent ]
I do like that aspect (3.00 / 3) (#81)
by Delirium on Sat May 27, 2006 at 01:50:45 PM EST

I especially like that we still do have serious discussions; even some of the trolling brings up and discusses important issues in a roundabout way. A good proportion of the political debate I engage in still takes place here.

Incidentally, although it's different in most other ways, the only other site I really know of that also combines "doesn't take itself seriously" with "still has good discussion" is forums.somethingawful.com. It reached it through a completely different mechanism though, with a dictatorial site administrator who bans people left and right, and a $10 registration fee.

[ Parent ]

My favourite thing about K5... (3.00 / 2) (#89)
by Patrick Chalmers on Sat May 27, 2006 at 07:02:12 PM EST

...is the massive contingent of trolls who never take anything seriously, while simultaneously producing scads of entertaining content.

Also, lol @ Tool quote in your sig.
Holy crap, working comment search!
[ Parent ]

+1FP, As an academic, I can say this essay rocks (2.66 / 3) (#56)
by nostalgiphile on Sat May 27, 2006 at 12:45:05 AM EST

Of course, it isn't a Lemon Juice diary, but this essay is...
--it's very well written...
--it's right on topic (Technology and culture...remember?)...
--it's obviously a subject we think is important (collaborative writing) and controversial...

It's hard to imagine that anyone who is committed to the improvement of K5--e.g., the people who will write long, 5 paragraph comments about this--could have problems with voting this to FP. That's a...what's it called? A CONTRADICTION. Yeah, that's the word for it.

I might post my own, longer "academic's" reaction to this later, if I can finish editing that wikipedia article in time... ;-/

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
Hey. (none / 1) (#60)
by The Diary Section on Sat May 27, 2006 at 01:45:24 AM EST

Stop looking at me like that.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]
Open technology and elitism (2.62 / 8) (#65)
by Hung Fu on Sat May 27, 2006 at 05:17:28 AM EST

Similarly, you can't get an arbitrarily large number of people to volunteer to work on something that a much smaller number of individuals own, or have special authority over.
In my experience, shared ownership or egalitarianism isn't a pre-eminent motivation for contributors, nor is it necessary in order for "strong collaboration", as you put it, to take place. In fact, I believe that highly moderated and controlled projects can succeed, as long as the leadership is intelligent, open and maintains some integrity. There is no reason why open technology cannot co-exist with strong leadership and "elitism" to harness the best of both worlds.

There are many motivations which can drive people to contribute to a collaborative project: personal interest, a sense of altruism, advocacy of an agenda, practice at exercising expert knowledge and the satisfaction of collaboration itself. It differs from individual to individual. If a project is interesting and important enough it should be able to attract willing contributors. Whilst the abuse of power will always repel users, there is no reason why strong leadership in and of itself will prevent a project from succeeding.

In my opinion, the real question isn't what motivates users, but what technology most readily accommodates, encourages and harnesses their contributions. Wikis are so uniquely effective because they maximize the "efficiency" of contribution by their practical accessibility, their incrementalist nature and the low barrier to participation. A culture of contribution and mutual respect may be helpful, but the technology is what, in the end, determines how users interact and contribute, not transient ephemera such as culture.

I believe strong leadership is necessary for any significantly large project to succeed and be protected from trolls/vandals and, more dangerous, those who would seek to hijack the project for their own purposes. For instance, the news has recently been flooded with stories of lobbyists using Wikipedia as a tool to alter public perception. In fact, some users have even talked about "leveling up" and selling admin accounts to the highest bidder. Personally, I've noticed a tactic of certain interest groups to "stack" admins in order to control voting decisions. Instead of a world of free, reliable information what about a world flooded in engineered misinformation presented as encyclopedic fact?

Secondly, a degree of elitism and closedness may be required to ensure that a project doesn't lose focus. There is no point in allowing non-programmers to join a programming project, for example. I agree with your earlier criticism of Wikipedia as anti-elitist. However, I see Wikipedia becoming elitist in another dimension: those with the endless amounts of spare time to develop an editing record have an advantage over those with expert knowledge but little time to argue.

Also, I have to point out that the concept of Wikipedia as an open "bazaar" is a mirage. Jimbo Wales and his appointed arbitrators have final authority over all editorial and administrative decisions in the Wikipedia project. Jimbo has not hesitated in taking unpopular and unilateral decisions (e.g. Brian Peppers, Ashida Kim, the Pedophilia userbox wheel war) and punishing renegade administrators. Wikipedia administration is not hands-off; there are hundreds of active, often partisan, admins and even trivial disputes and infringements can result in punitive action being taken. Wikipedia is far, far from egalitarian.

Yet most WP contributors don't seem to care that they are on the bottom rungs of a 6-tiered hierarchy, not to mention that other nameless users are allowed to access their IP address. Some do complain about the actual abuses of power that occur; but that is a mark against Wikipedia's leadership and policies and not the general idea of strong leadership itself.



__
From Israel To Lebanon

wow, essays within essays (none / 1) (#72)
by nostalgiphile on Sat May 27, 2006 at 11:23:28 AM EST

I like this more and more...maybe you guys should write a book or hold a conference on this topic. J/k, then it wouldnt be the trenches.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]
oh shut the fuck up (2.66 / 3) (#74)
by circletimessquare on Sat May 27, 2006 at 11:53:17 AM EST

all of your negativity would have some value if you were comparing wikipedia against something else that worked, without all of these negatives you list

the fact is, all of your complaints are minor issues, and THERE AIN'T NOTHING ELSE OUT THERE LIKE WIKIPEDIA, capisce?

don't be such a fucking playa hata

one can easily tell that if wikipedia were set up a different way, you'd have some other minor stupid fucking issue to whine about

because it is clear the issue at work here is you whining loudly about minor nits, not the minor nits themselves

so kindly shut the fuck up douchebag

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Changed my rating (none / 1) (#88)
by Patrick Chalmers on Sat May 27, 2006 at 06:59:41 PM EST

Was gonna give you a 2 for being unnecessarily inflammatory while making good points, but when I saw that someone else gave you a 0 for no apparent reason, I made it a 3 so it's harder to hide this comment.

Didn't need to explain all that, but as long as we're all writing essays here...
Holy crap, working comment search!
[ Parent ]

I figured this out for myself... (3.00 / 2) (#87)
by Patrick Chalmers on Sat May 27, 2006 at 06:55:06 PM EST

...four years ago, inspired to do so by the then-nascent Wikipedia. And I didn't post about it on K5, Slashdot, or anywhere else - I'd have thought it obvious. You can't have a closed system run by self-proclaimed experts, nor can you have an open 'democracy' run by "the people". You have to mix it up a bit. Anyone should be able to work this out in a matter of minutes.
Holy crap, working comment search!
-1 Educational value. $ (1.00 / 3) (#105)
by Lemon Juice on Sun May 28, 2006 at 02:00:52 AM EST



debian meritocracy (none / 1) (#115)
by tert on Sun May 28, 2006 at 02:51:06 PM EST

I recently noticed that the unzip package supplied with Debian does not support compressed files greater than 2GB. WinZip (and the Linux kernel) can both handle files up to 4GB. So this means most Debian users are able to uncompres fewer files than most Windows users. Big trouble!

An investigation revealed that there are a number of "5 minute hack" style patches to make 4GB files work with unzip, or any moderately clever 'system programmer' could replicate the effort.

So I pointed this out in the debian bug report for this issue and was told that this patch would not be applied to the debian package because it does not address the underlying 64-bit problem, merely the problem with the 32nd bit.

Basically, it sours one on contributing to Debian. I could make a parallel unzip project, I could work politically to override his decision. But there are numerous individuals with the ability and will to make the code change, but somehow we cannot convert this into actual functionality due to their meritocracy. Very troubling.

More to the point, who actually read this article? It's very long.



Business as usual (none / 0) (#116)
by DaoDePhys on Sun May 28, 2006 at 03:20:11 PM EST

I dream of a meta-book where concepts are found, with all pertinent sources and hyperlinks. Your start with Hobbes seems like a first step, so close to my idea of it but better... and real.

It would minimize some serious social losses (like those repeating again in 20 different ways), and highen the "cap" of knowledge of those ready to push further. It is a greater problem in the Western world I believe, given the fractionalism of knowledge (which might be quite representative of both historical fractionalism and Modern acceleration of everything).

This said, how can such model become unthreatened by economic change, and out of academia? It needs to incorporate itself in a system so that it can actually be optimal, get all the energy it can by being part of vital flow (no dependence on exterior sustenance). This was brought by some academics around here: how can they be recognized in this, so that they can put their energy there as elsewhere?

Who knows, I could end up participating in it later. But if I can't get my bread from it, it will limit my participation.

peer-review? (none / 0) (#136)
by pbihr on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 07:19:32 AM EST

I'm not sure i got you right there - are you proposing a peer-review system as it's been used in a scientific context for decades? Nothing wrong with that, but it's not exactly a novelty just because it's online, or am I missing out on something?

Text and Collaboration, Part I | 137 comments (124 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
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