Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Photogenetic Tree

Between yesterday and today I decided to take a class that a friend of mine is teaching on making Chain Mail. I somehow missed hearing about it, so I may not get in (in which case I'll sign up for something else). This does all mean that I'll have missed some classes, but it should be enjoyable. Because, for now, I'm sticking around in Pittsburgh (no bets for after the lease reaches a renewal point), I should unpause my life. Unfortunately, my desire for romance was reawakened by recent happenings, and it may be some time before I'm mentally back in the long-term-single mode. Patience...

I cleaned out my desk at home to find a computer component someone I know needed, and was amazed at how many of the wall-to-power-supply cables I have. It's been at least ten years since I ever found myself without one when I needed. My rarest/most treasured items, by contrast, are female-female RCA connectors, of which I have only two, sealed in their own plastic ziplock bag. It's strange how sentimental I get over all that stuff, much of it I likely will never use again (Centronics to mini-68-pin SCSI?). Still, given that the person I passed the 13W3-VGA adapter on to had a use for it, it's hard to really know what people will need.

On wikipedia, the CounterVandalism Unit (CVU) recently was deleted for a number of reasons. Many of its (former?) members are raising a fuss, but by and large I am convinced that the group will either remain disbanded or reform outside the project proper. CVU was a group with a noble intent, but in practice it was a source of problems. It was good at fighting vandalism, but it tended to attract militaristic new editors to Wikipedia who enjoyed wearing a badge and swing a club around, eventually collecting considerable ill will. Given that anyone can deal with vandalism (and other problem edits), and anyone with the knowledge and status (e.g. admin) can deal with more advanced cases of the same, CVU wasn't strictly speaking necessary. A long time ago, I approached the founder, carefully arguing for reform for it, and after talking for awhile (he had some of the same concerns I did), we revised the project goals to remove membership and make it more of a warehouse of information on dealing with problem edits. The members went ballistic, nearly drove the founder off of the project, and (perhaps in a show of cowardice) I stepped back and tried to ignore the problem. It's difficult to get the momentum to put an end to something that delivers some clearly positive results when the overall effect, even when larger, is so difficult to quantify as poisoning the community. I regret letting "CoolCat" down. In any case, now that it looks like there's momentum to fix the issue by closing the CVU, I'm happy to support that effort. There have been times on Wikipedia where I've failed the project by being unwilling to be bold enough (or confrontational enough). I don't think I've ever felt that I went too far the other way (even participating in the great userbox purges).

On another note, one of the worries I have with the foundation is the increasing professionalism that we're seeing in the management. I am getting more involved in this, but I keep worrying that the same thing will happen to Wikipedia that happened to NoWonder -- somehow someone makes the mistake of trusting a corporate entity (or sufficient numbers of corporate people) to respect the values of the community and its mission, and the project begins a slide through comprimise to something unrecognisable. Guarding against that possibility is something that forms at least part of my desire to join the foundation board -- occasional small and short-term comprimises may be acceptable or at least not very harmful, but defending idealism against pragmatism in our goals in the general case is very important to uphold. The project needs people who are more like RMS (but much more diplomatic) than ESR (who is more of a nutty turncoat). It would crush me to see Wikipedia taken apart like NoWonder was..

An interesting 1929 antivertisement by the American Federation of Musicians for music tracks in films:

(shown: picture of a can with a label saying 'Canned Music -- Big Noise Brand -- Guaranteed to produce no intellectual or emotional reaction whatever') Canned Music On Trial. This is the case of Art vs. Mechanical Music in theatres. The defendant stands accused in front of the American people of attempted corruption of musical appreciation and discouragement of musical education. Theatres in many cities are offering synchronised mechanical music as a substitute for Real Music. If the theatre-going public accepts this vitiation of its entertainment program a deplorable decline in the Art of Music is inevitable. Musical authorities know that the soul of the Art is lost in mechanisation ... Has it remained for the Great Age of Science to snub the Art by setting up in its place a pale and feeble shadow of itself? American Federation of Musicians (Comprising 140,000 musicians in the United States and Canada. Joseph N. Weber, President. Broadway, New York City.

What was lost? I think the surface argument is wrong -- canned music, extended almost 80 years to the present, can produce intellectual and emotional reactions. I listen to a lot more music than I would if all music were live, and I have more ability to pick music that I like rather than hearing what everyone else hears. At the same time, studio music is often less musically interesting than live music, because it's too perfect, because there's no improvisation, or because the versions that tend to be recorded are more "pop" than live versions. Live shows sound better (at least when the crowd doesn't ruin it), and are more fun to attend. Emotionally, being there with the musicians is also more satisfying (although this is, IMO, sentimental and silly.. but it seems to be true anyhow). With a broader reach of individual artists, we diminish local creativity. Finally, by passing power to record companies, we have mass marketing (one of the most harmful things humanity has invented) and recording industry centralisation collaborating to have people like really bad music. We have gained and lost some things, and will probably continue to do so as technology and social structures continue to change.

Tags: wikipedia

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