Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Light Between Shadows

I figured out how to get wireless working on my laptop -- previously I had the driver loading but the card wouldn't keep an essid and thus could not get on any network. It was as simple as pressing the "wireless on/off" button on the system. Apparently it defaults to off on Linux, and as there's no visual indicator if it's on or off, I had no way to know why the card didn't work. Anyhow, I have working wireless, and am happy about it. w00t. (oh, yes, for the googlers, this is a dv8000z again).

I ran into Andreas, a coworker from Italy, while at the 61c today (he was walking by). After chatting for a bit, we saw some old guy fall down on the street outside. Apparently the poor old guy was a bit out of it, and his watch was set a few hours in the future. It was kind of odd to see.

I have the paperwork and thumbs up from my boss on taking classes at CMU next semester and summer semester. I just need to figure out what to take now.. I intend to retake Russian in summer if nothing else jumps out at me and if it's not full, although fall is still a complete mystery.

During the recent radio interview, Jimbo Wales, Philosopher-King of Wikipedia, decided to instate a new rule whereby users must be logged in to post new articles. I have always felt that steps like this are a good thing, but are politically impossible there because it's "against wiki spirit". I can't exactly call myself a Sangerist (Larry Sanger and Jimbo started Nupedia (on which I was a lurker), and Sanger criticises the project for being too open and enabling to trolls, proposing a much more restricted model for contribution), but I believe that the current Wiki-"super open" attitude is suboptimal. It works, but not as well as it might. I feel that a more meritocratic and structured organisation would be better, and am delighted to see Jimbo forcing the right-but-politically-difficult decision. I think that at least the following are suboptimal on Wikipedia:

  • There are too many admins, and people are made admin far too early in their contribution
  • People care too much about not biting the newbies even when it's clear that said newbies are vandals. An example is thanking new people for vandalising pages and gently suggesting they use the sandbox.
  • People do not agressively prevent people from gathering non-Wikipedians to create accounts to vote on things
  • Too much effort is made to make it possible for anonymous IPs to comfortably edit on Wikipedia
I differ from Sanger in that he would, as I understand, additionally:
  • Create councils of experts and give them dominion over relevant articles. I don't oppose this in theory, but feel that it has not been shown to be necessary and until it is, the cost of doing so is unwarranted
  • Institute approval processes for articles. This introduces too much staticism, and if it's to happen, it should at least leave things open for revision on the main site, making a separate version (or access mode) for approved articles.
Getting the right level of this is quite important -- making a smoothly working system that's invisible (or at least not contentious) to most people is critical. Usenet moderation, which I've done for the last many years, is very centralised and works very well -- I would be furious to find a move away from moderators for it, as the moderators on it are not trolls, and the few that there have been are bypassed by creation of alternately-governed groups. Of course, a challenge for me is to reconcile socialist ethics with an anti-populist view like this. Is it really anti-populist though? Lenin has an interesting comment on it when he reviews a paper written in the late 1800s on the origin of socialist values -- one oft-commented-on element in Socialism is that it's intelligentsia are almost all from bourgeois backgrounds. The explanation is given that the working class are kept from developing significant culture by the demands put upon them by society, and so it is necessary to bootstrap the creation of proletarian culture using the input of those who have come from higher classes. This is more relevant today than when it is written -- the inculturation given to working classes in modern times, at least in the United States, creates an individualistic populism that is opposed to a socialism that it hardly understands. It is necessary for philosophers to begin laying the road to permit the rise of the masses to the level where they will understand the path to socialism. As Ataturk planned for his Turkey, the goal is not to bring all of society down to the level where the proletariat are now, it is instead to raise the proletariat to the level of understanding and culture that the bourgeois are at now. It is possible that economically, this will lead to the populance having less, especially in terms of raw resources, than the bourgeois have now, but that level is neither healthy for the planet in terms of sustainability nor is it a just distribution of goods. If 10 slaves are freed from their master (an oversimplification, obviously), the master naturally loses some resources and does not benefit from the change. This should not be understood as an argument against economic justice or socialism.

I now, not entirely surprisingly, find myself to picking up a very slight internet celebrity status for various reasons. It's a little bit weird. I had it before, several years ago, but it faded when I stopped working on certain projects.

Tags: wikipedia

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