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Archive for the ‘Copyright’ Category

Why an Encyclopedia is harder to write than Linux

without comments

In amongst the many and varied discussions, users of our forums make insightful observations which deserve highlighting. One such post is in response to this comment by Wolfe:

“If people can write a functional open source operating system, there is no reason why they can’t write an encyclopaedia.”

UseOnceAndDestroy writes:

This comparison keeps turning up, and while it sounds reasonable on a sloganeering level, its fundamentally wrong.

The driver for the development of Linux is real and pressing - the movement of mass computing to a monolithic, corporately-controlled standard is stiflingly unhealthy, and OSS breeds diversity and invention. Particularly, had LAMP [Editors note: Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP] not been created, a lot of the web innovation of the last decade likely wouldn’t have happened. Good-quality developers were drawn to OSS for good reasons, and established a decent level of governance because you just can’t engineer software without it. Because the technically incompetent don’t last long, Linux benefits from a virtuous circle: better software = more users = more developers = better software.

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Written by dogbiscuit

March 31st, 2008 at 4:19 pm

Wikipedia: Community Has Not Scaled

with 6 comments

This piece was written by The Review’s resident Agony-Aunt, Somey, and first published on his Wikiphrenia site in May 2007.

Wikipedia is really, really big.

Impossibly big. So big, in fact, that nobody can really get their head around how big it is. That very bigness tends to cause a few problems. In some cases, big problems.

As MeatballWiki puts it:

“When a group grows from dozens of individuals to thousands, it becomes impossible to feel any real acquaintance with more than a fraction of the population. When this happens, community standards and unwritten rules stop working. The group loses focus. Things fall apart.”

What are some of the manifestations of this problem, though? It’s all well and good to say “things fall apart” - it’s a lot like saying “Wikipedia is on the verge of collapse” or “Wikipedia is heading for a massive implosion.” Terms like “lose focus,” “collapse,” and “implode” are very handy - they’re often used by people who can see that something’s failing, but can’t quite explain the nature of the failure, or even the likely result of it. Of course, since this is, we know that the primary effects of failure are psychological, but the secondary effects are often quite practical - or rather, impractical.

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Written by The Review

January 17th, 2008 at 6:28 am

Posted in Copyright, Software

WP:Give US Money and we’ll give you FREE Culture. Another fund-raising ploy…

with 4 comments

As a new feature of Opinions and Editorials, some of the best postings to The Review forum will be showcased here. This post was submitted to The Wikipedia Review on December 12th, 2007 by our own resident culture vulture, The Fieryangel. The original post can found here.


This is one of the things that really gets my goat. As somebody who studies music professionally, I know a lot about the creative process. While the public has this idea that composers and other creators basically live in some sort of world where there are no such things as bills to pay, food to buy, clothes to wash and other such mundane things that make up ordinary existence, these things are often important parts of why certain choices are made in a professional life and why some people either succeed or fail. “Information just wants to be free” should never be understood as “free as in beer”, since composers, writers, artists and others have to make their lives.

Happily for people living today, other creators in the past have fought to create some sort of payment for use of intellectual property to those who create. Beaumarchais was the first important figure in this process, insisting on a percentage of the book at performances of his plays. Beethoven created a new statute for composers by refusing to submit to the old system of royal patronage. Finally, in 1847, the composer Ernest Bourget sued the Café-Concert (think “cabaret”) the Ambassadeurs in Paris for payment for use of his songs and won his court case. This lead to the create of unions of composers such as the SACEM, ASCAP, PRS and others which allowed for payment for use of music. Although there are excesses, I can personally point to situations in which this money becomes the difference between living comfortably (but not lavishly) and being in a poorhouse…

Information just wants to be free, but creators need to be paid. It’s a right to be paid for your work. Why should creators be any different?

Unfortunately, Wikipedia is taking this even further in their latest fund-raising ploy : Give us money and we’ll give you “free” information.

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Written by The Review

December 12th, 2007 at 5:20 pm