by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jan 18th 2012 12:31pm
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jan 17th 2012 1:49pm
from the we'll-see-tomorrow dept
“It is ironic that a website dedicated to providing information is spreading misinformation about the Stop Online Piracy Act," Smith said in a statement on Tuesday. "The bill will not harm Wikipedia, domestic blogs or social networking sites. This publicity stunt does a disservice to its users by promoting fear instead of facts. Perhaps during the blackout, Internet users can look elsewhere for an accurate definition of online piracy."Smith, as per pretty much all of his statements on SOPA is either misinformed, disingenuous... or just lying. First of all, the anti-circumvention provisions certainly do apply to domestic sites, including Wikipedia. And as a site that provides information, it could certainly run afoul of those provisions. But, more to the point, Wikipedia isn't just speaking out because this bill impacts Wikipedia directly, but because of its wider concern over what this bill represents: a blacklist that seeks to block access to websites. You can be secure that it won't impact you and still take issue with the principle behind the bill.
It's a shame that Lamar Smith can't understand that, despite so many people online understanding it. I assume some of those people may give Rep. Smith a call tomorrow to express that point to him directly.
Meanwhile... shocker of shockers, the MPAA is out with a statement using a very similar phrase concerning the blackouts. Gee, kinda makes you wonder if Lamar Smith and the MPAA are consulting on talking points:
It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information use their services. It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today. It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.This is hilarious only in that we're talking about the MPAA here, who is famous for abusing its powers and "intentionally skewing the facts to incite" people (mainly in Congress) "in order to further their corporate interests." Seriously, who honestly thinks that Wikipedia, Reddit and others are shutting down their sites to "further their corporate interests?" The MPAA -- as per usual, remains totally, and completely tone deaf to what's going on.
A so-called “blackout” is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals. It is our hope that the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to stage this “blackout” to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy.”
The MPAA wants SOPA to further its corporate interests. Wikipedia is a non-profit. Its interest is in stopping the MPAA from mucking up the internet, not in "furthering its corporate interests." Once again, it would be nice if the MPAA and Lamar Smith had the decency to be honest on this issue, but they're still working by the old playbook... the one where you lie and donate to campaigns until Congress gives you the laws you want, no matter how unnecessary or damaging they may be. They're seriously underestimating what's been activated online over the past few months. It's a massive miscalculation to brush off these legitimate concerns as a publicity stunt.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jan 17th 2012 10:32am
from the join-the-crowd dept
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jan 16th 2012 11:59am
from the pipa-protests dept
In fact, it appears they're going even further than Reddit, who is going down for 12 hours. All English-language pages on Wikipedia will go dark for 24 hours -- starting at midnight DC time on Wednesday. For what it's worth, I've been told by multiple Congressional staffers that Wikipedia is a tool they all rely on pretty much every day -- so expect this to get some attention. The site will also be replaced with an action alert, asking people to call and write Congress -- and Jimmy says his goal is to "melt the phone lines." Considering how much usage Wikipedia gets, that's entirely possible.
Student warning!Do your homework early.Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday! #sopa— Jimmy Wales (@jimmy_wales) January 16, 2012
This is a big move, and it's great to see Jimmy and the community willing to take a stand like this. Jimmy is also tweeting up a storm about why this is so important. He's also responding to false claims that the bills are "dead," by noting that SOPA (1) may rise again and (2) that PIPA is still alive and well.
Either way, come Wednesday, I'm curious if Congress is still going to be claiming that it's just a "small minority" of people who dislike these bills.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 13th 2012 1:13pm
from the speak-up dept
I'm all in favor of it, and I think it would be great if we could act quickly to coordinate with Reddit. I'd like to talk to our government affairs advisor to see if they agree on this as useful timing, but assuming that's a greenlight, I think that matching what Reddit does (but in our own way of course) per the emerging consensus on how to do it, is a good idea. But that means we need to move forward quickly on a concrete proposal and vote - we don't have the luxury of time that we usually have, in terms of negotiating with each other for weeks about what's exactly the best possible thing to do. As I understand it, the Foundation is talking to people about how we can geolocate and guide people to their Congressperson, etc. Geoff will know about that. Our task is to decide to do it with a thumbs up / thumbs down vote.So, speak up, Wikipedians...
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Dec 12th 2011 4:33pm
from the that-would-send-a-statement dept
by Glyn Moody
Wed, Oct 5th 2011 10:30am
from the who-needs-encyclopedias-anyway? dept
the Italian language Wikipedia may be no longer able to continue providing the service that over the years was useful to you, and that you expected to have right now. As things stand, the page you want still exists and is only hidden, but the risk is that soon we will be forced to actually delete it.This action has been taken by the Italian Wikipedia editors to draw attention to an Italian bill that is being discussed by the Italian Parliament at the moment:
Today, unfortunately, the very pillars on which Wikipedia has been built - neutrality, freedom, and verifiability of its contents - are likely to be heavily compromised by paragraph 29 of a law proposal, also known as "DDL intercettazioni" (Wiretapping Act).There's been some lively discussion on the Wikimedia mailing list about this move. Some, for example, thought that the Italian community had overstepped the mark by blacking-out the site in this way, but the main Wikimedia Foundation has now issued this message of support:
This proposal, which the Italian Parliament is currently debating, provides, among other things, a requirement to all websites to publish, within 48 hours of the request and without any comment, a correction of any content that the applicant deems detrimental to his/her image.
Unfortunately, the law does not require an evaluation of the claim by an impartial third judge - the opinion of the person allegedly injured is all that is required, in order to impose such correction to any website.
Hence, anyone who feels offended by any content published on a blog, an online newspaper and, most likely, even on Wikipedia can directly request to publish a "corrected" version, aimed to contradict and disprove the allegedly harmful contents, regardless of the truthfulness of the information deemed as offensive, and its sources.
The Wikimedia Foundation stands with our volunteers in Italy who are challenging the recently drafted "DDL intercettazioni" (or Wiretapping Bill) bill in Italy. This bill would hinder the work of projects like Wikipedia: open, volunteer-driven, and collaborative spaces dedicated to sharing high-quality knowledge, not to mention the ability for all users of the internet to engage in democratic, free speech opportunities.The other issue raised on the mailing list discussion is to what extent the Italian law, if passed, would apply to Wikipedia, since it is not an Italian organization, and the servers are in the US and the Netherlands. Italian editors are nonetheless worried they would be on the receiving end of legal threats anyway, and would rather not find out the hard way whether their work on the Italian Wikipedia were subject to the new legislation.
Wikipedians the world over pride themselves on their ability to rapidly remove false information from their project. Wikipedia has established methods to receive complaints or concerns from individuals or organizations and a strong system exists to remove incorrect or false information, and if necessary to remove complete articles in an effort to prevent vandalism. For Wikipedians, there is no value nor need for this proposed legislation.
Then there's also the little matter of the Italian Constitution, part of which says:
Article 21 [Freedom of Communication]All-in-all, the Italian politicians behind this proposed legislation emerge with little honor; at the very least, the new law will cast a chill over freedom of expression online in Italy, and at worst could see the Italian Wikipedia shut down permanently – a huge loss for its users and Italian culture.
(1) Everyone has the right to freely express thoughts in speech, writing, and by other communication. (2) The press may not be controlled by authorization or submitted to censorship.
Update: Via Carl Levinson, Roberta Ranzani and Jillian C. York on Google+, we've learned that the controversial paragraph 29 of the Wiretapping bill has been dropped (details in Italian). It's not clear exactly why, but the action by the Italian Wikipedia must surely have concentrated people's minds. However, it's important to note that the rest of the bill is still going forward - and has plenty of other changes that will harm freedom of speech in Italy if enacted.
Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and on Google+
by Michael Ho
Wed, Apr 27th 2011 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- The International Barcode of Life (iBOL) project aims to create a DNA-based reference library for all multi-cellular life on Earth. It's a fairly ambitious project, but at least they're not trying to look for extra-terrestrial life, too... [url]
- The Encyclopedia of Life project is like a Wikipedia just for biological organisms. A web page for every species, and a car in every garage? [url]
- A barcode-like system called Stripespotter is cataloging zebra stripes so that field researchers can track the zebras they've already photographed. The system could also potentially be used for other animals with unique fur patterns -- like tigers, giraffes or your pets. [url]
- Endangered sharks are being tracked by their DNA -- which can be used to tell where these sharks grew up geographically due to their mating behavior. Sharks don't need iPhones in order for people to track them, but they do need freakin' lasers on their heads already. [url]
- To discover more interesting biology-related stuff, check out what's currently running around on StumbleUpon. [url]
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Mar 23rd 2011 10:39am
from the questions,-questions dept
But the even more interesting point comes after that:
Every journalist I've spoken to since 2006 uses Wikipedia as their handy universal backgrounder. Funnily enough, there's a distinct lack of donations to the Wikimedia Foundation from newspapers and media organisations. How much did the New York Times donate in the fundraiser?Marcus Carab, who works in a newsroom, made a similar point in response to that article a few weeks ago when the NYTime's Bill Keller claimed that the Huffington Post was a "pirate site," in that newspaper reporters rely on tons of other sources that never get any credit, let alone payment (excuse Marcus' Canadianisms, he can't help it):
We do this stuff for everyone to use and reuse. Journalists taking full advantage of this is absolutely fine. But claiming we should then pay the papers for the privilege is just a little odious.
Forget the fact that pavement-pounding reporting is a form of aggregation from the public - newspapers actively aggregate from tonnes of published sources too. Every newsroom has a table covered in copies of every other newspaper in town - in case you missed something, or they got an angle you didn't, or you think one of the stories can be taken further. In addition to reporting, all journalists do research: they look up other articles on the topic, find past magazine interviews and pull data from published reports. Many science articles in newspapers are just summaries of journal articles.So this raises a really good point about the silly claims from the NY Times and others about how they need to get paid, since they believe that they're the "originators" of the news. I do wonder how many of the people at the NY Times did contribute to Wikipedia? I would bet many of the folks who insist that their own work needs to be paid for by users, have in turn never once contributed to Wikipedia.
And that's just what went on and still goes on in the traditional media ecosystem, amongst the old players. Newspapers actively aggregate from blogs too. Every journalist in entertainment or technology starts his morning looking for leads on blogs, and the first thing any reporter does when they get an assignment on a topic they aren't familiar with is look it up on Wikipedia.
Information comes in all sorts of forms from all sorts of places. The NY Times is good at what it does. No one is denying that. But it's delusional in its thinking that it somehow is the piece of the puzzle that is worth the most here.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jan 27th 2011 3:10pm
from the oh-look-at-that... dept
The altruistic ideal of giving away one's labor for free appeared credible in the fat summer of the Web 2.0 boom when social-media startups hung from trees, Facebook was valued at $15 billion, and VCs queued up to fund revenue-less "businesses" like Twitter. But as we contemplate the world post-bailout, when economic reality once again bites, only Silicon Valley's wealthiest technologists can even consider the luxury of donating their labor to the latest fashionable, online, open-source project.How's that prediction looking today? Right. (Update: For those who missed it, there's a sarcmark around that "Right")
In that article, he predicted the success of a bunch of websites and how they'd beat the "free" or "open" competitors. I picked out a series of those that I thought were particularly unlikely to happen and asked Andrew if he'd like to put some money behind his predictions -- with the bet being decided by who was right in October 2010 (I didn't choose all of Keen's predictions, because some of them were nonsensical and did not involve actual competitors). Here's what I wrote:
I'd like to make a bet. While there are different estimates as to how long any recession might be, the general consensus is that we should hopefully start pulling out by the end of 2009 or early 2010. So, let's pick a few of these that we can measure, and I'll bet Andrew Keen $100 (really money, Andrew) that in two years, on October 22, 2010, Wikipedia still gets more traffic than Knol, that Google is still much, much, much bigger than Mahalo (if they're even considered competitors any more), and that YouTube gets more traffic than Hulu.Tragically, when October 22, 2010 came around, I had forgotten about this original post. Also, Keen never responded to the bet, either because he was unaware of it or because he didn't really believe his own predictions. Either way, it looks like he made the right decision, whether on purpose or not, because every one of the predictions I made were correct compared to his predictions. Knol didn't beat Wikipedia. Mahalo did not beat Google. Hulu did not beat YouTube (though, Hulu is doing well for now).
If any one of those is untrue, I'll write him a check.
I had never met Keen when I wrote that original article, though I have had some fun conversations with him in the past year, so I'm interested to see if he's willing to revisit his original predictions and to admit that perhaps he was wrong with his analysis of how "free" and "open source" would be knocked out by the economic crisis.