Wikis : For and Against (Wikipedia in particular)

March 27, 2008

Let’s begin with the FOR case, as presented by the ever engaging Mark Pesce :

the human network » Blog Archive » Why We Wiki

[…] creates a situation where the community is smarter as a whole (and as individuals) because of their interactions with the Wiki. In short, the community will be more effective in the pursuit of its obsession because of the Wiki, and this increase in effectiveness will make them more closely bound to the Wiki. This process feeds back on itself until the idea of the community without the Wiki becomes quite literally unthinkable. The Wiki is the “common mind” of the community; for this reason it will be contentious, but, more significantly, it will be vital, an electronic representation of the power of obsession, an embodied form of the community’s depth of expertise […]

Then we have the NAYs – leading off is Dave Winer :

What’s wrong with Wikipedia

[…] Wikipedia is therefore a puzzle to me. Because while it’s helpful, it also hurts me, because my biography there is more of a vendetta, by anonymous people, who seem self-centered and immature, but it’s impossible to tell what axes they have to grind, because they’re largely anonymous.

Same is true for various activities I’ve participated in. You may argue that I didn’t invent this or that, but surely I had something to do with RSS, blogging and podcasting? Yet depending on when you look, I’m often not mentioned on these pages. This makes it hard for me to claim my work in professional dealings because people consider Wikipedia authoritative. What it says is considered by many to be the truth […]

Followed up, briefly the next day in What’s wrong with Wikipedia, day 2

Anonymous people writing with supposed authority about living people. Too easily (and often) gamed

Finally a useful piece from ‘big media’ (The Guardian) highlighting some specific problems of late :

Wikipedia’s school for scandal has plenty more secrets to reveal

[…] To effectively understand Wikipedia, it’s important to keep in mind that while it’s hyped as a quasi-mystical collective endeavour which spins straw into gold, in reality it’s a poorly-run bureaucracy with the group dynamics of a cult […] ultimately, one lesson from all these scandals is yet more evidence that Wikipedia fits a familiar pattern of idealism being vulnerable to exploitation. I sometimes remind people that ideological communes tend to end badly, too often with a few manipulative leaders extensively profiting at the expense of a mass of followers who lose everything […]


2020 Summit – Get Involved

February 19, 2008

Mark Pesce writes :

Unleashed: How to listen to 21 million voices

[…] Rudd should promise that the 2020 Summit itself will be captured in video and audio recordings, with photographs and documentation that will all be placed online, in real-time, as the summit is taking place. He can ask Australians to create blogs which track the progress of the event, noting everything as it happens. Australians should be invited to use instant messaging, bulletin boards and other systems so that their own questions, reflections and comments could be incorporated into the summit […]

It is up to us, individually, to start NOW to voice our opinions. Let us not wait until we are invited, rather go and find other boffins in your field today and begin to formulate your own responses to the 2020 summit. There are projects already springing up in Australia – be one of them!

Start your own blog, wiki, or podcast – whatever your chosen media start the conversation now and make your voice heard.

Creative Commons Coming to Australian Government?

February 15, 2008

What a big story this is! I wonder what data we have available to us now, and what more might be to come?

Australia set to give the go-ahead for Creative Commons licensing | Technology | The Guardian

Last month, the government of Queensland approved the use of Creative Commons, which allows free re-use of copyright material subject to certain conditions, as part of a new licensing framework. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth (federal) government is expected to give the green light to creative commons in a new set of guidelines for the management of the government’s intellectual property.

A Kilo of Aussie Brains

February 6, 2008

This is one of my relatively rare political posts – stay and read!

The new PM, Kevin Rudd, has announced an ambitious project – to gather (at their own expense!) 1,000 Australian thinkers to tackle the long term strategies for the country.

Personally I find this a wonderful idea – having known politicians on and off I know that they simply cannot keep up with new developments and ideas if they are able to cling to their elected positions. By that I mean politicians by their nature are concerned with the now rather than what is coming up, especially ten or twenty years hence.

In response, the local tech community has created (likely more than one) website dedicated to exploring the ideas of the project itself and the topics to be discussed. Follow the blog quoted below to keep up with the talk, and to have your own say on who you think should be there to represent you.

Australia 2020 Summit » The Australian tech community discusses the Australia 2020 Summit

Our PM, Kevvie has decided that a kilo of humans shall be chosen from amongst the people to tackle the TEN BIG QUESTIONS. Apparently these cover such things as productivity, the digital economy, water, health, indigenous people and services and the arts.

are we too jaded to participate?

December 5, 2007

Reading this amazing piece which is the story of an online journalist called up for jury duty.

It is worth your time to read this. Especially as we are coming up to that time of year for reflection. Do hold onto this one through the silly season and consider : are we too jaded to participate? How’s your ability to objectively participate in democracy?

Live from General Jury Assembly Room 2.60 – Clicked –

Has the online celebration of the counterintuitive and the contradictory caused me to see the world through a backward lens in which people don’t really see what they see and the only way to be fair is to strip away bias to a degree that only exists in the rantings of righteous pundit bloggers? Should there be a big NOTE: at the top of Clicked: warning, may cause a warped perception of the world that could hinder your ability to objectively participate in the duties and responsibilities required of citizens of a democracy.

Green power in NSW – which is really green?

January 17, 2007

As have other bloggers before me, I received a pitch from AGL for their ‘Green Living‘ electricity deal which offers a no contracts, no extra charges ‘green’ electricity option.


While the deal sounds good, it is perhaps a little too good to be true. So who can tell me what’s really going on?

GreenPower? GreenPower NSW? Since these are both government run, they are unlikely to give me a real opinion on the value of any given offer. Further searching yields an interesting site, Green Electricity Watch – run “by Australian environment groups to help consumers choose”. That sounds like what we need to read.

The basic gist is this : buy electricity with the highest amount of accredited GreenPower as you can afford – that’s the only source that will actually make a difference.

Going by that, the AGL ‘Green Living’ deal only sources 20% from accredited Green power. Not so good, but better than nothing I suppose – the only danger with this switch would be complacency. Are you going to remember to upgrade to a higher percentage accredited plan next year?

LPG (autogas) conversion? How far do you drive?

January 3, 2007

It doesn’t take much research to conclude that converting our cars to LPG would be an excellent plan. Or does it? This is a quick sketch of LPG vs petrol for a (light) commuter here in Sydney.

Yes, autogas (aka LPG) is still a fossil fuel. Yes, it does burn cleaner than petrol but you need to burn around 30% more.

Yes, most modern engines will happily use LPG.

LPG Autogas Australia is the main advocacy site here in Australia.

The federal government is offering a $2,000 rebate for the conversion of private petrol or diesel cars, so that should be the bulk of your costs – out of pocket expenses seem to commonly be around $600.

So how long will it take to make the $600 back? Let’s see …

Using Shell’s 28 day average :

ULP 118.6 cents per litre, but let’s discount this for good shopping skills to 110.

LPG is more difficult to find long term prices, but let’s go slightly high and use 55 cents per litre.

Now for efficiency. According to Greenfleet ULP has 38% higher energy density than LPG, so we’ll need to use 38% more LPG for the same distance travelled.

So if we increase the cost per litre by that 38% to account for the extra we need to use, we get (55 * 1.38) 75.9 cents.

This is still (110 – 75.9) 34.1 cents per litre cheaper.

Still with me? Good, just a little more : we now need to recover $600 in chunks of 34.1 cents which means we will break-even after around 1,760 litres.

Since I have been using somewhere between 15 and 20 litres per week for my limited travels, this would be recovered in around two years of driving.

Clearly the LPG conversion makes more sense the more kilometres you drive.

What about other situations? If we re-use the pricing figures above, at only 40 litres per week you would recover your money in 44 weeks.

For all the calculations, see my spreadsheet online.

Discuss 🙂

[Follow up done 6 months down the track – savings are getting better!]