Wikimania, day 1

Reminder to self: always, always get a single room, or reserve the room for myself completely. My room mate snores in that earth-moving, death-inducing, keep-awake, oh-my-god-is-he-going-to-die -way. Even while he is on his stomach. I know. I watched him for hours. I catalogued twenty different basic types of snoring.

Anyway, in the morning a bunch of German guys ran a series of presentations on Wikipedia, Semantic Web, metadata and RDF. I'm still a bit sceptical on that, as the failing of the Semantic Web is in the fact that nobody usually bothers to add semantic information - or if they do, they don't bother to update it. This is because there is little immediate benefit from the metadata, so most people don't bother. But the German wikipedians managed to get a party together and convert 30,000 pages in three days to use biographical metadata.

Jimmy Wales is talking about things that will be free: Well, the encyclopedia and dictionary of course, but he also adds things like classic music recordings: there is a lot of music already in public domain, but there are few free recordings of this music. And it makes sense - there are quite a few student and volunteer orchestras that could contribute.

There are some practical problems with old paintings (which should be free) as well: galleries seem to think that if they own a 400 year old painting, they can control any reproductions as well. Wikipedia has received several takedown notices... But they ignore them. So, if you happen to be in a gallery, with a tripod, and happen to take a high-quality picture - donate it to Wikipedia...

Other things that should go free are the file formats (absolutely) and maps. I agree on the maps; in Finland it's too expensive to get hold of digital map data. Most people just use US services to find routes in Finland... just because there is not other choice.

Jimmy mentions also the craft culture that is going on in the internet, such as the Finnish knit blogs, and how that sub-culture is growing. They have issues on product identifiers: it's difficult to talk about something because there are no proper, unique names on things. You can link to Amazon products, but that namespace is owned by Amazon, so it may be difficult to find a competing seller (because they might call it by a different name). Maybe. But isn't this an engineering approach to crafts? Would it work?

Free TV listings? *bore* For some reason I don't really care. is my TV listing these days, and the European digital EPG is essentially a free TV listing. is a great service for all Finns anyway...

Free communities - demand a free license from web forums, discussion boards, wiki pages, etc. Otherwise the company controls the community. I agree, but aren't there some liability issues here? Also, if you are buying access to a community (say, a MMORPG), who should really own that data? This is maybe one of the reasons why Flickr works - they use a CC license by default, so if Yahoo! went crazy, the communities in it could just take all the data and re-establish elsewhere. WikiCities is a free community site service.

Someone asks about free search engines - and Jimmy agrees; says it should be number four on the list. Oops :)

A question about free wireless. Jimmy answers that he personally thinks that free, municipal wireless is a bad idea, because it kills innovation on the wireless area. I slightly disagree, as it opens up innovation on a lot of things that are dependent on the access to the wireless.

Jimmy also continues that he thinks that governments should release any data they collect on tax money to the public. E.g. NASA is very good at this, ESA is not. People should demand that data paid for by tax-payers money is freely available.

On the subject of free news and citizenship journalism: "Well, everybody tells jokes. But we still have professional comedians."

Some commenter notes that the Austrian Ministry of Health has opened a web service where physicians can anonymously contribute false diagnoses, so that others can learn from their mistakes. Interesting. You wouldn't normally publish something like that under your own name - we like our successes to be public and failures to be private.

Update: Ross Mayfield has far better notes.


"data paid for by tax-payers money is freely available"

A very American point of view. In Europe, we have this thing called public health care - and I don't think many people would like their personal health data to be freely available to everybody. Even if and when the data has been paid for by tax-payers money.

--No Thanks, 08-Aug-2005

It should've probably been clearer that the discussion was about data that touches everyone: maps, scientific results, statistics, etc. Not personal data, of course. But you can anonymize such data relatively effectively (by offering generic statistics, of course) as well.

(BTW, I'm European, in case anyone wonders.)

--JanneJalkanen, 09-Aug-2005

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"Main_blogentry_050805_1" last changed on 06-Aug-2005 19:27:38 EEST by JanneJalkanen.