From the Cool Concept dept., http://unype.com/ – a combination of “unite” and “Skype,” I guess. It’s a mashup that allows people to interact via Google Earth. Skype plugs in, too. Very tiny download. Also, September is Multi-User Google Earth Awareness Month. The guy behind it is Murat Aktihanoglu, 3D guru, an ex-co-worker of mine.
Like, why hasn’t anybody done this yet? Does this mean we don’t have to put up with lame-o landscapes created on Second Life?
Interesting article in The Sydney Morning Herald, which correctly identifies CZ as the solution to Wikipedia’s recently-identified problem (old news for many of us) that corporations and governments can spin Wikipedia. CZ will be at least harder to spin, because we require that people identify themselves. Says the article:
Wales disagreed with critics who said Wikipedia’s anonymous contributions were responsible for its failings. It underpins the structure of the community, he said. “I think there’s basically zero problems that can be solved by eliminating anonymity.”
That’s not a view shared by Larry Sanger, Wikipedia’s other co-founder. Anonymity, and what he claims is a cabal of leading volunteers who impose their views on the site, has spawned what Mr Sanger called a “radical egalitarianism about knowledge”.
“As long [as] they hold those two policies as firmly as they do - and I don’t see how they can change - they are never going to be able to produce a really credible encyclopedia,” he said.
“They are always going to have articles that tend not towards the most authoritative view on the subject but towards the opinion of the most active Wikipedia contributors.”
This is one reason Sanger split with Wikipedia. Earlier this year he launched Citizendium, an online collaborative encyclopedia based on the same wiki structure but with greater editorial control and no anonymous contributions.
“Ultimately, I think I owe it to people - if I can - to do something better,” he said.
Someone who clearly hadn’t entered the 21st century yet asked us for a reciprocal link. Feeling nostalgic, I decided to go ahead and create a “Friends of Citizendium” page. As if to prove we have some friends, within an hour we had four links…maybe there was something to that “reciprocal link” business.
So, the deal is, you link your website, blog, etc., to us, and then, unless you’re a porn website in which case we don’t need your kind of traffic :-), you can link back to your website (or ask a constable to do so, perhaps) from the “Friends of Citizendium” page.
In a blog post, one of our more prominent Web 2.0 supporters, Jason Calacanis, invites people to compare CZ and WP articles side-by-side, citing our “Northwest Passage” article (which is currently our Article of the Week) and Wikipedia’s.
I appreciate the implied compliment, but I think the time for meaningful side-by-side comparisons is still some time off. There is no question that, in most cases, articles take time to develop to their fullest potential. This is just as true on CZ as on WP. We are still a very new project, and many of our articles simply have not benefitted from the time and scale effects that Wikipedia articles have enjoyed (but have not actually been perfected by) over the years.
That said, a lot of our articles are excellent right out of the gate — for instance, our “New Article of the Week,” which was started July 22, ”Edward I.” And there is no question that the average level of our new articles is far better than Wikipedia’s new articles were. Jimmy Wales said recently that he remembers the days when one could start the Africa article and write, “Africa is a continent.” Indeed, I believe that’s exactly how the Wikipedia “Africa” article did read for a while. Well, such a stub would be deleted fairly quickly on CZ. Now, I must admit in fairness that we still have no “Africa” article at all – for shame! Still, this and many other major oversights will be fixed before too long.
The Citizendium is unfinished, but on a vector of improvement that will, over the coming few years, take it head and shoulders over Wikipedia in terms of quality. And then in terms of quantity, too!
I do have to agree with Jason:
This is going to get very interesting over the next five years.
The Write-a-Thon was regarded as great fun and a success by its participants and ever since I’ve been wanting to blog about the meaning of it.
It worked for a couple of reasons. First, there was a shared understanding, which solved a coordination problem (or created a coordination opportunity?):
- Large numbers of people were made aware of “an event” going on on the wiki, explicitly labelled as a relatively rare (monthly) event.
- The globality of the event was emphasized, if only by necessity (the Write-a-Thon lasted from July 31, 1200 UTC, in New Zealand, until August 2, 1000 UTC, in Hawaii).
- They knew, also, that large numbers of other people, from around the globe, knew these things; so there was a shared understanding.
- Given this shared understanding, they could reasonably infer that other people would actually show up.
- That gave some people a reason to show up themselves, a reason that they did not have at other times: an expectation of more participants on the wiki.
- So they showed up!
UPDATE: it’s now August 1 in most parts of the world, and already the Write-a-Thon is a modest success…and the day hasn’t even begun in the U.S. …
Tomorrow (Wednesday, August 1), we’re going to have a Write-a-Thon. The concept is simple: come to the wiki, write a new article, edit somebody else’s new article, and record what you’ve done on the Write-a-Thon page. And do this when everybody is doing it. If it’s modestly successful, we’ll do it monthly.
Think of it as a way to let people who might not be on hand every day (the way some wikiholics are) know when a good time would be to join when the joint is jumping. It’s a better excuse than most to come and see what’s going on on the Citizendium. We can’t do it too often of course. But monthly seems like about right.
Don’t be a party poop! If you can come and stay for only a stub, we’ll take it!
And if you’re not a Citizen yet, don’t forget: I have made a personal guarantee that your application will be replied-to within 24 hours. Tomorrow, we’ll make it faster than that.