Wikigifs.org : a random walk through animated gifs on Commons

So many wonderful animations, waiting to unfold. Now if only there were a wiki-editing tool within MediaWiki that made it possible to create an anigif from stills!

brainchild of Joel Franusic. via bl00. on github.


Here is a blog post about two of my favorite academics fooling around with, and getting a gleeful kick out of, Wikipedia's delightful meta qualities. Pretty great.

p.s. "The Information", which is a fabulous book, name-checks Wikimania 2007 in Alexandria and a few of the participants there -- Gleick attended, interviewed a few folks, and was generally part of the festivities.


Wikimedia to the world : "we are the media, and so are you"

Kat and Jimmy get a lovely op-ed in the Washington Post, about the online response to SOPA and PIPA, the role played by individual action and interest, and the growing importance of distributed individual creators as part of the modern media.


Yochai Benkler on love, SOPA, wikiauthority and moral force

That is why Wikipedia played such a critical role: unlike all the other major sites that shut down. Wikipedia is not a company; Wikipedia, for this purpose, functioned as a mini-democracy within a democracy, where people who continuously volunteer for the public good came together to do something new for the public. Wikipedia represents a moral force that no commercial site can ever hope to replicate. 
                - Benkler, Seven Lessons from SOPA/PIPA...


Wikimedia ranked #1 NGO by The Global Journal

The Global Journal, a new journal published by Jean-Christophe Nothias and based in Geneva and Manhattan, covers international affairs and governance.  In their 9th issue, they recently reviewed global NGOs and ranked the top 100 by their own criteria -- with Wikimedia taking first place for its work "built on the belief that information is not a for-profit commodity."

As they point out in their introduction, the ranking is subjective, and comparisons hard to make across such a wide field.
While we devised a specific set of metrics to guide our choices – including impact, innovation, transparency, accountability and efficiency – there is no science in the measuring. How does one – after all – compare the fundamental societal impact of an organization like the Wikimedia Foundation, with the tangible outputs of a well oiled humanitarian machine?

Ultimately, we hope this list will inform, stimulate debate, inspire and – most of all – shine a light on the incredible dedication that continues to be displayed in and out of the spotlight on a daily basis.
Nevertheless, there is clearly love in their thumbnail sketches of the 100 organizations they profile, and I am proud to see Wikimedia's work recognized and used as general global inspiration.


One Wikipedian's nostalgia on writing for a traditional encyclopedia

Wikipedian Alex Golub, at the anthropology group blog Savage Minds, describes his thoughts as he is asked to write an article for a traditional encyclopdia for the first time. 

Wikipedia is a place where you must learn to think for yourself, encyclopedias are places where you are told what to believe.

Of course, there is a lot to like about the arbitrary exercise of authority if you have faith in the authority in question: the gullible are not duped, the conspiracy theorists are silenced... if you are pessimistic about the capacities of your students to know and learn then feeding them the party line is, to you at least, the best way to protect them.

But we as educators can and must believe that our students — and
everyone else! — is capable of more than this... attaining intellectual maturity requires immersion in the rough waters of public debate, which is exactly what Wikipedia is. The real danger of Wikipedia is its use by people made gullible by a system which promises them that someone, somewhere knows The Truth.

Read the full monologue.


English Wikipedians go on strike to protest national laws, motivate change

English Wikipedia was the most prominent site to join a day-long Internet blackout to protest two bills that are being considered by the U.S. Congress: SOPA and PIPA.  These bills, if passed into law, would increase the liability of ISPs and websites hosting community-generated content, and would make it possible for complaints against content on those sites to cause them to be shut down entirely, or to have their funding cut off, without any court decision being made.

The blackout led to over 15 million people taking action - signing a petition, getting contact information for their congressmen, or sending email requesting opposition to these and similar bills.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation ran an email-writing campaign, Google ran a banner/petition campaign, and Wikimedia ran a campaign to contact congressmen's offices directly.

Support for the blackout was widespread.  Wikipedia's blacked-out main page page received 4x its normal traffic.  A number of other Wikimedia projects expressed their support for the en:wp blackout.  The mainstream media covered the blackout extensively.

And the day produced some brilliant quotes - on Twitter, in articles, and on the Wikimedia blog, where Sue's related essay drew 12,000 comments.  Even the critical comments were often charming.  Some of the quotable love:

  • Key lesson for SOPA/PIPA sponsors: Wikipedia lets everyone legally copy its content. Millions still mourn its absence when it's down. - Anil Dash.
  • “Imagine a world without free knowledge.” I just did and I didn’t like it, now can I have my Wikipedia back? - David Carr
  • Unintended consequences of the proposed legislation [include] breaches in cybersecurity, damaging the integrity of the Internet, costly and burdensome litigation, and dilution of First Amendment rights - Senator Charles Grassley (R-AL), explaining why he recommends further review of PIPA
  • These measures, if enacted, would place unacceptable limitations on the accessibility of online information and content, impose undue burdens on small and innovative websites and applications, and would not be the most effective way to curtail overseas illegal piracy and theft of intellectual property. - Adam Smith (D-WA)
  • I was at first very irritated when I saw that Wikipedia was taking a political stand on any issue, I actually had no knowledge of these bills and after reading these bills, not only am I too very opposed to them but I also understand the threat these bills pose to Wikipedia itself. - Donald Langhorne
  • The issues go far beyond the US. -FT2
  • dis is retarded -____- im 13 and i NEED wikipedia!!!!!How else do u think i get good grades on my essays?!? -LLAMAZRULE
  • Good. Great. Fantastic. Amazing. I love it. Public figures, be they people or webpages, never take a bold stance on anything important. Thank you for doing so. - Quarex
  • Not only is Wikipedia the easiest, quickest and most hassle-free place to check up on facts, but now it also has the courage to take a stand against restrictions of our freedom online as well! - Jennifer Fricker
  • Black it out for a week if you have to. GO WIKIPEDIA!
  • i don’t really know about this man. I know it’s got to be a hard decision but i don’t think it’s a good thing. what if somethin’ happens because someone hacked the government lately so please don’t do this. -rhedeosi
  • blindness seems so easy..while vision is so hard to bear…
  • Just learned of your blackout in support of intellectual property thievery. I disagree with your position. I have for several years sent a year-end contribution to Wikipedia. Since you have thrown your support to brigands, thieves, miscreants and malefactors, I will send no further contributions. This is NOT a free speech issue as you claim. This is about appropriating work of others without compensation. We call this theft. It is a crime. You can look it up in Britannica. -tcement
  • It is the movie companies etc who are the pirates. The films they produce are mainly rubbish these days and actors are paid way too much.
  • I kinda hate you for shutting down my favorite recreational website for 24 hours, but not only do I agree with why and what you’re doing, I’m also glad such a large user website is taking their time to shut down and bring awareness to this nasty piece of legislation. -Joey


Italian Wikipedians go on strike to protest national law, motivate change

Italian Wikipedians, Over the past 2 years, the Italian legislature has been steadily moving towards passing a law nicknamed "the blog-slayer", which would require publishers online and offline to broadcast a correction if someone they reported about demanded it -- regardless of the accuracy of the original information. They would have to publish the correction within 48 hours, in a similar place and as visibly as the original information was published.

Considering the fines for non-compliance, this would cause many people to stop blogging about anything possibly controversial. It would have even more drastic effects on collaborative sites such as Wikipedia.

After discussing how to protest this situation, Italian Wikipedians decided to "go on strike".  They updated the javascript of it.wikipedia.org two days ago to redirect all visitors to a letter explaining the problems with the pending law, and how this could destroy the Italian project. They kept this message up for 48 hours, the same timeframe that would be mandated by the law.  It was covered widely in the international press.

This protest drew over 270,000 likes on Facebook in those 2 days, one of the most rapid protests in modern Italian history.   And the legislature responded - with a number of amendments proposed (but not passed) within a day that would exempt blogs and shared websites from the law.

The intensive discussion about how to handle a critical situation, and the outpouring of support from across Italy and around the world, were a perfect example of viral wikilove. The Wikimedia Foundation, Wikimedia Serbia, and a number of other community groups all published letters of support for the community action.

We will find out later today what the final outcome is, when the legislative session decides on what language it will pass. The community is currently planning to restore normal read access to the site around 1800 UTC.


Portraits of WikiLovelies

Few things make me happier than making portraits of Wikimedians.
Wikipedia is what got me into photography. And Wikipedia meetups are what got me into portraits.
There are a lot of warm fuzzies in the world of Wikimedia when you see your work used and appreciated, but the one I like most comes when I see a portrait I made of another editor show up as their profile pic on a social network.
It's like, the person they are around other Wikimedians, that's them at their best, the version of them they want to share with the world.
I know that's the case for me. This photo by another editor, taken at the first New York Wiknic, is, well, it's just me.
For a lot of Wikimedians, deeply weird people that we are, meetups and wiki events are among those rare times when we feel at home, among our own people.
Over the last four years or so, I've met and photographed hundreds of Wikimedians. It never gets boring. Wikipedia meetups are among the densest gatherings of shining, beautiful souls.See a few of my favorites. And whenever you meet a Wikimedian, take a picture!


Wikimedia India hits the international blog scene

Ayesha Saldanha of global news service Global Voices talked to Tinu Cherian recently about the future of Wikipedia and India.  It's a nice interview, getting in a plug for the new Wikisource DVD and reminding me to subscribe to Tinu's delightful Twitter feed.

Asked about where he would like to see the new Wikimedia India office (covered recently in WikiPatrika), Tinu was diplomatic:
As a true Bangalorean, personally, I would love to see the Wikimedia office in Bangalore. Bangalore has a vibrant Wiki community contributing to different language Wikipedias... Bangalore is also the seat of the Wikimedia India chapter. But for the growth of the pan-India Wikimedia movement, it is advisable to be Mumbai or Delhi. But it is entirely up to the Wikimedia Foundation to decide where they find it feasible and suitable. The foundation is now actively considering it in Delhi or the National Capital Region (NCR).
I hope to hear more from the growing community in India. They make their first-class work and organization look easy, and inspire me to do more in my own part of the world.


Exploring Tourette's through Wikicompulsion

As noted in today's SignpostMichaelas10, a former Wikipedia admin with mild Tourette's, shared a private and remarkable aspect of his life as a Wikipedian a few years ago, and what it helped him discover about himself.

It is a lovely vignette, one I will remember for some time to come.


From Medvedev, with love

Wikimedia Russia recently ran a campaign on the need to change Russian copyright law to include a "freedom of panorama" clause allowing anyone to take public photos of monuments and buildings (whose designs might otherwise be considered under copyright).  This received broad support, including a word from President Dmitri Medvedev (Дмитрий Медведев).

This morning, Russian news agency RIA Novosti celebrated its 70th anniversary by launching an "Eternal Values" project in partnership with Wikimdia Russia, through which it will publish the most valued images from its digital archive on Wikimdia Commons.  (ceremony video, Commons announcement)

At the launch of the project, the first 100 images were uploaded to Commons. Roughly 800 of the most popular or requested images will be uploaded by the end of the year.

President Medvedev attended the ceremony and personally uploaded image #100 - an image of recruits heading to the front lines in 1941.  Talk about nation-changing wikilove!

Requests for specific images from the RIAN archive can be left on the project page on Russian Wikipedia.  Support for the project, in any language, can be left on its Commons talk page.


A CD of books from Malayalam Wikisource: hot off the press

Congratulations to the Malayalam Wikisourcerors, who last week released the 2011 Malayalam Wikisource CD with a selection of books from Malayalam Wikisource and art from Wikimedia Commons.  This CD, a sequel to last year's release of Malayalam Wikipedia on CD, is by far the biggest collection of free Malayalam texts available offline - and beautifully illustrated by Rajesh Odayanchal.
2011 ML-Wikisource CD sticker
By Rajeshodayanchal via Commons

Now, a week after its release, the download page has received over 40,000 hits.  As mentioned in the release announcement, this project is particularly important because a majority of households in Kerala do not yet have a reliable connection to the Internet, and so need access to digital works offline.

The CD release was announced on June 11, at the 4th annual Malayalam Wikimedia Meetup in Kannur, Kerala.  The community gave the first CD to their youngest contributor (7-yr-old Sai Shanmugham), and recognized others who contributed to this collection and to ml:wikisource over the past five years (including Atma, Su, Thachan Makan and Manojk), and the many other participating Wikimedians who helped illustrate and produce the CDs.
Hisham hands Sai a CD, as Bishakha looks on.
Image by Fotokannan, via ShijuAlex

The CD creation Process

Shiju Alex wrote about the overall process and release, and Santosh Thottingal shared a detailed description of the technical steps needed to produce the CD.  The selection was chosen and produced in just over three weeks!  Books were selected via a wikiproject starting on May 20, and released three weeks later.

The collection includes:
  • Selected poems by Kumaranasan, Cherusseri, Changampuzha Krishna Pillai, Kalakkaththu Kunchan Nambiar, Irayimman Thampi, and Ramapurathu Warrier
  • A Malayalam Grammar, Kerala Paniniyam
  • Folklore and Novels, such as Aithihyamala and Indulekha 
  • Native art, such as Parichamuttukali pattukal dances
  • Religious texts, including the Bhagavad Gita, Adhyatma Ramayanam Kilippaatu, Harinama Keerthanam, Geetha Govindam, the Bible (Sathya Veda Pusthakam), the Quran, the works of Sri Narayana Guru
  • Devotional songs for Christian, Hindu and Islamic worship
  • Philosophical texts, including Marx and Engels
  • Collections of images of food, plants, birds, maps and celebrations from Kerala
The CD can be downloaded as an .iso image, or browsed online (currently down due to high traffic).


Please donate to to the Harris-McLaughlan fund

Why you should donate, like, one dollar to Wikimedia: To elevate people around the world.  Because Brandon Harris is looking at you.  And because the panza cervecera and Sarah McLaughlan* says so:

* Sarah McLachlan's funnier & guiltier alt


Wikistream : node.js, live recentchanges, Ed and Ward

Ed Summers, Library of Congress hacker extraordinaire, DPLA contributor, and r2d2 fan, recently took the IRC-channel stream of recentchanges from major language-versions of Wikipedia and made a web version of it.  The following exchange on the wiki-research-l list deserves preservation:

I've created a little toy webapp that displays updates from the major language wikipedias in real time:
   http://wikistream.inkdroid.org   -- Ed

I've written this app several times using technology from text-to-speech to quartz-composer. I have to tip my hat to Ed for doing a better job than I ever did and doing it in a way that he makes look effortless. Kudos to Ed for sharing both the page and the software that produces it. You made my morning. -- Ward

Wow, thanks Ward. You made my professional career :-)

Major props to node.js, redis and socket.io.  I really just put the lego pieces together. It feels like the tools are getting better and better some days.   -- Ed