Preemptive Wikipedia editing

Though it remains unclear if the McCain campaign or the Republican party initiated it, the editing work done on the Sarah Palin article just before she was announced as candidate again throws light on the importance of Wikipedia:

In total, YoungTrigg – whose user name is a reference to Ms. Palin’s infant son, Trig – made 30 “edits” to the article, all positive and largely unnoticed, since they came at a time when few were discussing her as a possible running mate of Senator John McCain’s.

This surely looks like a version of what I was circling in a post about the war in Georgia. Wikipedia as first stop for many users = Wikipedia will be a battleground. As the NYT articles also notes:

While ethically suspect, the idea that a politician would try to shape her Wikipedia article shouldn’t come as a surprise. In modern politics, where the struggle is to “define” yourself before your opponent “defines” you, Wikipedia has become an important part of political strategy. When news breaks, and people plug a name into a search engine to find out more, invariably Wikipedia is the first result they click through to; it is where first impressions are made.

Getty & Flickr

Soon, we Flickr users can earn some money on our photos if Getty Images editors like them. So better hurry up and post some new pictures? Well, there are some issues here that are discussed quite interestingly in the comment section. One potential problem that struck me immediately, as well as commenter Stephen:

I wonder what effect this will have on whether Flickr photographers elect to post their images using the Creative Commons license.

A world wide web anniversary

Fifteen years ago today CERN released the protocols of the world wide web into the public domain. Occasion good enough for quoting from a BBC interview with Tim Berners-Lee:

Sir Tim predicted that the web’s ability to engender collaboration could one day see the web being used to help manage the planet. “What’s exciting is that people are building new social systems, new systems of review, new systems of governance. My hope is that those will produce… new ways of working together effectively and fairly which we can use globally to manage ourselves as a planet.”

And here you can see copies of the original documents that made the web protocols available for everyone.

How to get quality comments

After seeing the latest comments from Metafilter vs. YouTube users side by side, the Freakonomics blog asks if the $5 membership fee on Metafilter is the reason behind the obvious difference in quality. The comments to that question clarify things. The pair is rather odd — it would be more instructive to see similar, competing entities such as newspaper websites side by side – but it’s anyway clear that the entrance fee itself can’t be decisive. As Brandon Blatcher says:

Metafilter’ls success and generally better comments are probably due to a number of factors, and the $5 admission fee is just one. There’ls also the presence of the mods, how they’lre moderating, how many people are posting links, how many people of are posting comments and more importantly, the quality of the those two things (a crappy post of a controversial subject tends explode), timing (if a crappy post of a controversial subject happens when the mods are off somewhere, the explosion tends to last longer, sparking other explosions), the state of the world in general and the United States in particular (most Mefi members are American and with the elections going on, there’ls a tug of war about whether to post political links) and just sheer luck. All of these things and more are at play in particular moment, so Mefi’ls light moderation touch tends to work well. There’ls also a certain X-factor that comes from the mods, in that they actually seem to care about the site and it’ls goals and the sum of those parts make it more than a job, which tends to shine through in the site’ls darker moments. $5 ain’lt got nothin’ on that.

Harvard joins Open Access movement

Clearly an important signal: Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences has adopted a new policy that gives the university the right to make scholarly articles freely available on the web (in an institutional archive or repository). See a round-up of reactions at the Open Access News site. (via jill/txt).

See also — older posts on this topic:

The Block Access movement

Invisible knowledge

More on the historical photo breakthrough

Le visage d'un jeune GI semblant commotionné que l'on soigne, au pied de la falaise, de Colleville sur Mer sous le Wn 60 secteur Fox Red OMAHA Beach, parmi d'autres blessés épuisés appartenant au 3rd Bn du 16th RCT de la 1st US ID.

A H+50 le 6th Naval Beach Bn avait installé un poste de secours à l'abri du feu allemand.

L'insigne sur l'épaule du soldat en arrière-plan est caviardé

voir le reportage: p011341, p012524, p012901, p012908, p012914 et p012976

The reception of the Library of Congress/Flickr pilot project in the web community is “nothing short of amazing”, Matt Raymond writes on the LOC blog. Praise has been pouring in. In the comments to Raymond’s blog post was a link to another excellent project on Flickr — PhotosNormandie, a collection of 2.763 photos from the Battle of Normandy. The photo above of US soldiers is taken from the collection and is published under a Creative Commons license.

Historical photographs on Flickr — a breakthrough

Photo: David Bransby - Woman aircraft worker, Vega Aircraft Corporation, Burbank, Calif. Shown checking electrical assemblies (LOC)

The photograph above was taken in 1942 by David Bransby. It shows a worker at the Vega Aircraft Corporation in Burbank, California. It has been made available on Flickr by the US Library of Congress as a pilot project where users can add tags to and comment the pictures. And it’s definitively a hit. The photos have just been online for a few days, but already many of them have been viewed thousands of times, and the flickerati are busy tagging and commenting (UPDATE: details on the Flickr blog). Popularity among users is important in itself. Many cultural institutions — museums, archives, libraries, broadcasters — have been working for years digitising their collections, but are they reaching the audiences? Cooperating with a big, user-enthusiast-driven site like Flickr is obviously a brilliant way of making a cultural treasure known. But the project tackles another important issue as well. Librarians are currently discussing (link to story in Norwegian) whether to allow users/readers to add tags to the otherwise strictly controlled catalogue system. Library of Congress has decided to give it a try, and it’ll be exciting to see where the experiment goes.

Meanwhile, the photos published on Flickr are without known copyright restrictions, so there is no reason not to display such gems as the one below — photographed in 1942 in Colorado by Andreas Feininger — on your own blog.

Photo: Andreas Feininger, View near Creede, Colo(?), 1942 (LOC)