A pinch of poise, a twist of wit,
Suffice to foil the darkest fit of pique -
or set the mind at ease when seeking
ancient remedies for slaking the eternal drive
to make, sing, see, feel, learn, and thrive.
A pinch of poise, a twist of wit,
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself, myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for this I came.
I love it when one of the seventeen pillars of society starts to emerge anew.
Stefano Mazzochi and other former MetaWebbers now at Google have turned out another beautiful structure in the garden of human knowledge: the Knowledge Graph.
This helps visualize one key aspect of information meshes, though it has many limitations still. (It is only a graph, as the name suggests; as defined within Google it is only the part of the universal knowledge graph that they choose to bless as ‘clean’; it doesn’t include any data that they choose not to make publicly visible; and there is no higher level of structure to support a metric, or a multi-dimensional space).
David Gerard recently pointed out that despite recent expansion of the global commons of “freely-licensed knowledge”, all license terms still last for much too long. “Free licenses” still rely on copyright laws which impose restrictions on reuse for unreasonably long term lengths: currently “Life of the author + 70 years” in most countries — roughly 10-50x as long as the average commercial lifespan of a new work.
Economists and researchers studying copyright have often noted that copyright terms have been extended with little justification, always on the request of the publishing industry, since the first copyright term (14 years) was set centuries ago. And that there is no data to suggest that longer copyright terms are good for society or useful in encouraging creative work.
The social memes of “free culture” and “free knowledge” have been shaped in large part by a community that bought into the idea of copyleft in the past decades: a derivative of copyright law which defines the copyrights the author wishes to exercise in a way that lets people reuse their work, as long as they release the result under the same license.
We should figure out a reasonable maximum term for the sort of rights that are currently covered by copyright – say, something no more than 14 years – and embed that term into the most-recommended free culture licenses. That includes all Creative Commons and free-culture and other FOSS licenses. All of these licenses should explicitly transition to the Public Domain before the ultralong default term enshrined in international law.
(In practice this could mean automatically switching to a CC0 license at the end of the shorter term.)
Related discussions about license reform
David’s comments started a recent discussion on the Wikimedia-l mailing list, about whether Wikimedians should help push for a saner copyright term. Mike Linksvayer noted similar discussions on the Creative Commons licenses list from last December – part of brainstorming how to improve those licenses.
Two people made comments along these lines: “Shortening the copyright term is totally infeasible in the near term; instead we should encourage people to switch to free licenses.“
This misses two key points. Firstly, free culture groups are now some of the largest around; they include major content providers and platforms; and Creative Commons itself is a powerful global brand. Secondly, while convincing slow, conservative national governments to change their laws is hard, almost everyone who is not working/lobying for content publishers — including the vast majority of content creators — feels copyright terms are too long. So this is an obvious place for citizen innovation to come first, and legislation second.
A few publishers are already adopting limited terms. O’Reilly Books uses a license that switches to CC-BY after 14 years.
Some free culture groups have taken a position here as well: Sweden’s Pirate Party advocates for a maximum term of 5 years. Richard Stallman of the FSF recommends a maximum of 5 or 10 years (though only for society as a whole; and only if it comes with open source requirements for proprietary software).
What can we do? Won’t this make free licenses harder to use?
Adding an explicit term after which works become PD should not complicate the “opt-in commons”, to use Mike’s term. This could be implemented with a few simple changes (I am imagining how CC could implement this; as they have great authority to recommend licensing norms):
- Define “PD-friendly” licenses as those which become PD in at most N years.
- Define the PD-date of a composite work as the latest of its component sources.
- Ask people to use a PD-friendly license.
Within that framework, people can use terms that make sense to them; some may want a license with a fixed PD date, so that a large group can collaborate on a shared work which is set to become PD in 2020. Ongoing collaborations like Wikipedia could use a license set to become PD after 8 years – so the latest version of a project would always be under a CC-SA license, but one from today would become PD in 2020.
Creative Commons and others could then promote the use of PD-friendly licenses. Collaboratives like Wikimedia communities, and publishers like O’Reilly, could switch to those licenses for their projects and works. Together we would return to building a true intellectual and artistic Commons — something which in the US has been starved of almost all works produced in the past 35 years.
Read this solid post by Umair Haque on the rise of the metamovement in our global society. This is a movement of movements that we are seeing develop unbidden, transcending national, cultural, and social norms across the world.
The opposite of a filter bubble, this directly taps into a universal need for agency and our newfound capacity to cooperate by the millions.
Hat tip to the perceptive Priya Parker.
Checking out what Tumblr does right and wrong: I posted a short series of meditations on joy, sharing and knowledge. Let me know what you think.
Filed under: chain-gang,indescribable,metrics,Not so popular,SJ
While still recovering from a Rein’s Deli hangover, I found myself the subject of the Ragesoss lens last weekend. Good energy, well captured.
@Ragesoss: It is a mathematical notion applied to ideas. A conceptual space around a theme is full of different concepts, each related to the theme in some way. Such a space can be described in terms of facets that can be used to describe a concept: for instance, you might describe ideas for laying out a garden in terms of their complexity, suitable climate, or total size… or many others. Complexity and size are sometimes linked. You can imagine the conceptual span of a set of facets, or their dependency on one another, as corrolaries of the span and independence of vectors being used as the basis for an abstract space.
A mesh is a limited set of elements that can be used to effectively describe an infinite space of ideas. Human languages are full of concept meshes. The easiest to discuss are one-dimensional meshes (ideas that span the spectrum of a single facet):
- color words – the spectrum of visible colors is split into a set of common colors. this set of names is a casual mesh for the visible color spectrum. (casual in that there is no explicit metric used to determine whether all parts of the visible spectrum are ‘equally’ represented by words)
- shape words – shapes may be described as circular or oval, square or rectangular. There is a humorous ‘proof’ that the only skew triangle has angles (45, 60, 75) – that all others are roughly equilateral, isoceles, or right.
Higher-dimensional meshes include texture words (smooth, rough, bumpy, prickly, soft, firm, sticky… – covering facets of friction, give, tangible local structure, and more). Most higher-dimensional meshes in language are incomplete (we rarely form words for concepts whose realizations are not in common use).
If you define a metric for the distance between two points on a spectrum, you can construct an “equally-spaced” subdivision of the space, or a balanced mesh. This splits a space into a set of characteristic elements (here, concepts) or nodes which can be used to describe anything elsewhere in the space.
Choosing a metric is important and difficult. For instance, once we found a way to measure color by the wavelength of its light, we could ask for enough common color words such that every frequency of visible light is no more than 50nm from the wavelength of one of the characteristic colors. In practice, humans see different parts of the color spectrum with differing degrees of sensitivity, and we become familiar with certain constant colors in our environment . So while the rendered spectrum does not devote much space to Yellow or Orange (in contrast with green and red), we have many more characteristic words for yellows and blues than a straight “wavelength subdivision” would suggest.
It is also difficult to define facets that are independent of one another; but this is not necessary. It is mainly important for each facet to be easy to observe and agree on.
For a given metric, you can describe the fineness of a mesh in terms of the maximum distance from any concept to the closest characteristic element. (or sometimes twice that distance – as a description of the “largest” concept that could “slip through” the mesh without including any of the characteristic elements.) If you have different metrics for each facet, a synthetic combined metric must be created that is consistent with each.
A balanced mesh is then one in which the fineness of the mesh is essentially the same for all subsets of the conceptual space — so, a set of color words that provides equal facility in describing perceived colors at all points on the color spectrum. (Again, a suitable metric here might be one that stretches out the spectrum in regions perceived very well by the human eye, or colors that come up frequently in human life — the latter a metric that changes with social context.)
One can often have a clear definition of a mesh without having words for some of its characteristic elements. This happens often with a multifaceted space, where the intersection of well-known values of each facet is an unknown combination that has no word to describe it. One common way of constructing a balanced mesh involves creating a balanced mesh for each facet, and then defining a concept for every combination of those single-facet ideas. Building a “complete” set of characteristic concepts can be thought of as mesh completion. It is a way of thoroughly grokking a space of related concepts. And the fineness of the resulting mesh is a measure of how effectively one has used language, imagery, or other methods to illustrate the limitless variety possible within the constraints of that conceptual space.
(More after the jump…) (more…)
Filed under: chain-gang,Glory, glory, glory,international,metrics,popular demand,SJ
One of my brother’s latest projects, Chile 8.8, is a reflection on the act and goals of architectural reconstruction of cities, for this year’s Architecture Biennale. If you are near Venice while the 2010 Biennale is on, stop by the Chilean Pavillion and take a look.
17 soluciones arquitectónicas fueron seleccionadas para participar del encuentro titulado “La gente se encuentra en la arquitectura”… Los proyectos, que ya fueron construidos o lo serán en el corto plazo y se expondrán en un gran biombo de 130 metros, siguen tres pilares de reconstrucción: patrimonio, prefabricación y organización social.
17 architectural solutions (to destruction) were chosen to participate in the Biennale, where this year’s subject is ”People Meet Architecture”. The projects, which have been or will shortly be built, and displayed on a 130 meter screen, focus on one of three pillars of reconstruction: heritage, prefabrication, and social structure.
Part of a series on difficult topics from the Wikimedia community
There are some perennial projects that take more than a single barnraising to understand and plan for. One is the issue of supporting different languages equally — the world’s largest and smallest languages are both underrepresented among the projects. While I would like to see Wikimedia become a model for the rest of the online world in this area, how a global community can provide support, bugfixes, and advice to different/new language groups is an issue for many multilingual projects. So I offer these questions to all readers – feel free to answer them for the projects you are most familiar with.
- What technical and other support do various language projects need to become awesome?
- What variations are needed for projects whose main goal is language and cultural preservation?
- What sharing of advice or practices would make starting new projects easier?
- How can established projects help new projects with outreach, communication, and planning?
Let me offer one example of how this has been difficult to grasp within Wikimedia: discussions on the early international list were generally in English. This led to a certain founder effect among participants, and in how the projects are today framed to the world, from elaborations of the vision to interface design. And this has forked discussions of what language projects need – those in the language of the project, which can happen easily and fluidly among its participants and contributors, and those meta-discussions in one or two shared languages with the potential of setting Wikimedia-wide policy or affecting all projects.
What are your examples? What am I leaving out? How can the global community and the Foundation better support small and underrepresented languages? Feel free to leave links to current or historical discussions about problems and opportunities.
The elections results are out, and I will be serving the community as a Trustee for the next two years. I am looking forward to the challenge; thank you to those who trusted me with their vote, and congratulations to Ting and Kat – it is an honor to represent the community alongside them.
Thank you also to Philippe and the elections team, and to all candidates who took time to run. I was particularly glad to see Góngora running, as a new face in meta-affairs, and I hope to see more participation in meta discussion by active es:wp contributors.
I will help the Board be more open. I have revived the Wikimedia meetings page for suggested agenda items – please leave your ideas and comments there, in any language. (I know this is a tough thing to request in a monolingual blog. Suggestions for making this blog more accessible are welcome.) I will post my own thoughts about agenda items there in advance of future Board meetings. One of my first efforts will be getting all foundation resolutions and policies translated into Wikimedia’s core languages.
The next one is coming up in a few weeks, during Wikimania – I don’t officially become a Board member until we meet. I am looking forward to Wikimania, and hope to see some of you there!
I have also updated the old Wikimedia Reports page, as one way to better coordinate organize information – please help add new reports to it, and translate it into other languages.
I am running for the Board again this year, with the hope of bringing a stronger community voice to the Board, and organizing good and frequent open discussions between the Board and community about priorities, core services, new initiatives, and the like. Angela organized a few open meetings long ago when she first joined the Board which I really appreciated, and which encouraged some previously invisible community members to come forward with good ideas.
Meanwhile, my friend Kat Walsh has not yet stood for re-election to the Wikimedia Board of Trustees, though I hope she will!
Update: she did, and she was reelected for another term! Congratulations
She is among the last of a certain breed of board members who have been strong advocates for community involvement in key decisions, and we could use more. The current Wikimedia Foundation is strongly in support of openness even without nagging from the Board – for instance in framing the upcoming year-long strategic planning as a process to facilitate and crystalize plans from the many communities – but without active community trustees we might no longer be so lucky a few years from now.
My official statement, and throwback to an earlier era, after the jump.
Ike hit Texas hard this morning, straight over central Galveston. They say 3m will be out of power for two weeks… including our house in Houston.
UPDATE: Our street was lucky. Our house is good as ever, having no enormous trees nearby. My mother reports the only noise it made was a loud humming from the gutters at a certain windspeed (I could hear it over the phone!).
UPDATE 2: A house across the street had its roof aerated by falling trees from both adjacent properties, and the ancient oak in the open lot next to us (vacated and cleared after the last big flood) was ripped down. Flooding wasn’t bad; only 2 ft of water in the street. The local bayou is far from the main channel, and was a good 3 feet from flowing over when high tide passed at 4pm. 10 blocks away things were worse… Now everyone just has to make do without power for the next fortnight.
UPDATE 3: Only 1m are still without power; we expect to do without for another week.
And this is why we went into space 40 years ago: an image of Ike from the International Space Station… with a little ‘station finger’ over the lens. Great buildings such as the Pyramids and the Wall are, despite what they say, hard to see from space. But massive atmospherics? You can see those from Saturn.
More below the fold.
Filed under: SJ
I can’t seem to stop editing new wikis. Here’s one that’s even gotten me to journal…
Filed under: SJ
Both first and last on my list. First, because you have been on it for a decade; were its founding member. I have long owed you the impossible, or at least a calligraphed letter to that effect. Last, for celebrating less warmly than deserved your liberation from the far side of the pond.
It held plumb, level, solid, square and true for that one great moment… The key to Dugan’s lucidity is that it is really hard to nail even one hand to a crosspiece yourself, whether or not you are a carpenter. Those asking a great deal have often sacrificed a great deal first. Thankfully, by that point it rarely feels like sacrifice.