15 April 2006

Notacon rocked!

The Notacaon main page has links to writeups and photos.

Phat talks I saw:

The Dial-a-dorks were on Notacon Radio for about five hours, including two hours of talking with Drew Curtis. (Although I had gone home by that point.)

It was fun!


tormp said...

curious for an opinion poll here. do you like jason scott's writing and/or ideas? his stuff often strikes me as long on arrogance and short on cogent arguments. of course, i have largely the same opinion of joel spolsky's writing, which is apparently heresy.

of course, someone might rightly demand that i present something resembling a cogent argument here. on the other hand, i'm not positioning myself as some kind of a pundit.

dewey said...

I thought about your question, and I came up with the following points:

1. Jason Scott and Joel Spolsky share the initials "JS". Maybe Gyr can tell us the rules of the JS club?

2. Yes, in both cases, I find JS's ideas interesting to think about. Even when I end up not agreeing, I am at least entertained.

3. The way I read it, both of them are sort of writing short essays about certain subjects. In such a piece, I expect a definite point of view and incomplete reasoning. In this way, I don't find either of them any more arrogant or inchoate than any other editorialist in, let's say, the newspaper.

mani said...

I had never heard of jason scott before i heard his wikipedia talk. I thought he really kind of missed the "truthiness" boat during his talk.

He never really got into why it's bad that the biographical details of that one dude in his example were incorrectly entered from the NYTimes article into the wikipedia article. Or why it's bad that certian articles are continuously vandalized. Or why the two aspects of wikipedia's defense ("it's just the wikipedia" and "it's the Wikipedia!") are incompatible. Or what standards he was using to judge wikipedia's success. Or how the perpetuation of knowledge should happen (pre-wikipedia, I wouldn't go to the library just because I was wondering about something, e.g.). et al.

Without getting into any of the real sticky questions about truth, he did nothing more than state the obvious.

Thumbs down for cogency.

Thumbs up insofar as I was entertained by the talk, and it gave me some stuff to think about (namely, all the questions he didn't raise).

And, yeah, arrogance. He sounds like those boingboing folks.

Jason Scott said...

I'm assuming by "writing and/or ideas", you mean related to Wikipedia, and not, say, my other dozen or so speeches I've given, most of which don't fall into the realm of media criticism. (Although actually, that is part of what I went to college for, as part of mass communications degree).

The Notacon Wikipedia speech had several main intentions: First of all, to entertain and bring some energy into the room (always a top a priority). Next, to put forward some theories I had been constructing about the unique opportunities and issues that Wikipedia brings into sharper focus (and which will continue into the future, like my Can of Soup analogy). Finally, I wanted to touch on a broad range of examples of how such a community/project like Wikipedia could be affected by such disparate forces.

Oh, and this whole bit had to be done in 45 minutes. This partially explains the lack of pauses and the fast talking, which is not how these speeches of mine tend to go.

Regarding mani's specific criticisms, I recall (and there's a transcript here: http://www.cow.net/transcript.txt) that I covered very specifically why I thought some of these issues were "bad":

"Wikipedia tends to be, at this point, the first hit for most proper and non-proper nouns. Putting in anything gives you the Wikipedia entry. In fact, if you have Trillian, Trillian has an automatic setting so that any word you have in there that matches on Wikipedia ends up as an underlined word. You click on it, and it tells you what the answer is. To someone who's using instant messaging, they don't know where this entry came from when they clicked on it, they also tend to be out of date because they index it across the Trillian ... and so on. So as a result, you can't say
just go in and change it, because it's actually using older and older indexes. That's what I mean by the concern I have, the worry that I have, when I make these big points."

I am saying that like it or not, Wikipedia, with all its flaws in approach and issues regarding architecture, is currently enjoying the space of de facto source of information on the Internet, so getting someone's bio wrong or misstating information will be duplicated in many directions and locations and will in some cases never clear out for years to come. So it does hold some importance from my point of view.

As for arrogance, well, I am what I am: Chuck Norris.

hjrojus said...

Some observations:

The title of the presentation does not square with this statement within:

"I do not dispute that Wikipedia -- for a person who is playing the part of a tourist, a web browser -- is a beautiful success."

That seems like a lot of people getting their information needs satisfied for free.

The creeping and persistent inaccuracies described in the presentation (Carmine DeSapio) happen in any reference work, however vetted. Those cited here are mostly trivial. If the casual user can get 80% accurate info 80% of the time, that is a darn good record in context, and it's likely much higher.

"[I]f this site was called Jimbo's Big Bag o' Trivia, it would have been a fine success and nobody would have had any problem with it."

Well 'Wikipedia' is just branding to make it sounds really exciting.

If the presentation had been titled "Jason Scott's Big Bag o' Potty- mouthed Internet Gas" nobody would have had any problem with it.

"When Wikipedia started out, [it] was designed for . . . a theoretical idea. An idea of human knowledge edited by everybody,
with no idea of how human beings actually are. . . it's not the place that I think Jimbo Wales expected it was going to be."

So this is the crux of the bisquit:
Wikipedia does not 100% accurately reflect its founding vision.

For an enterprise of its size and scope operating on a no-charge basis, on balance it's doing pretty well. It's messy. It contains inaccuracies that get propagated. That's life online and in print forever. No shocking revelations there.

In addition to being a convenient and mostly accurate free reference, it is a valuable experiment in a host of current fields of endeavour and study. I look forward to its continued evolution, and / or its eventual replacement by something better that learns from Wikipedia's mistakes.

Here : http://www.lib.utk.edu/~tla/TL/v55n4/allen.pdf
is a clearer-eyed and more balanced assessment of Wikipedia, shorn of the gleeful schadenfreude, snark, and superfluous F-bombs that damage the credibility of so much writing on and about the internet.

russ said...

First let me say that I'm an ass because I haven't taken the time to RTFA (LTTFS?).

Now, my opinion, arrogant and incogent:

Wikipedia, like Microsoft's OS (esp. in the early-mid 90s) is merely an example of network effect, and has all the inherent benefits and failings of same.

Good ole Windoze allowed a developer with a clue to put their work to the largest effect by exposing it to the largest audience. Wikipedia allows an author with a clue to present their ideas to a larger share of the web than their own small site might garner.

Unfortunately it also allows an author/developer to target more people with malicious software/information (i.e. viruses or defacing). Additionally it has the pitfall that those in control (MS/Wikipedia) may fall prey to the abuses of power -- outright censorship, bias, leveraging the power for further gain, etc.

As a friend points out, the Wikipedia is just the Web, easier to edit and all in one place. You must use your personal filter in both cases but you're able to digest the information of many more people more quickly before applying your own filters... so it's more expedient than the web.

I think it definitely presents a problem for snapshots of Wikipedia to be taken and displayed without context, but I think technology will improve to remedy this (more ubiquitous access and better methods of linking in) and really this is not a problem limited to Wikipedia as much as it is one that Wikipedia's strengths fall flat against.

As for the JS's, I generally dig the Joel but don't find any need to hold his word as gospel. Recall he has a lot of theories about software development but has pretty much outright failed at his original vision (CityDesk) and now survives on an ancillary product (FogBugz) and consulting. However he's a strong business owner making money how he wants to, working on interesting problems with interesting people. Can't knock that. The Jason I only have limited exposure to, but he was cool with a beer in hand shootin' the shit last year.


russ said...