Taiwanese animated news NMAtv report on Monmouthpedia

The Monmouthpedia project has been getting a lot of coverage lately, but you know they’ve made it when Next Media Animation feature them:

Monmouth is now a “Wikipedia town,” which means it’s riddled with QR codes that bring information to smartphone users with the click of a button. Monmouth, birthplace of King Henry V, is the first town to play host to project, hence the title, “Monmouthpedia.”

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said he was excited about the project. “Bringing a whole town to life on Wikipedia is something new and is a testament to the forward-thinking people of Monmouth,” raved Wales.

The QR codes are printed on long-lasting plaques to ensure they’ll be around for a while. Wikipedia will be using QRpedia, a mobile Web based system that uses QR codes to deliver Wikipedia articles to users. As articles can be instantly edited and updated, some believe this will be a good replacement for tour guides and maps.

Previously on Halfblog.net

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Another fascinating Kickstarter documentary project.

Wikipedia is a corrupt political environment, and it should be disrupted.

“The Encyclopedia Game” is a documentary film about Wikipedia vandalism. The film focuses on the stories of a handful of Wikipedians who have managed to be banned from the site for one reason or another. All have been accused of some sort of vandalism or disruption. Are they guilty? Are they innocent? Or is the truth more complicated than that? This is a quirky character documentary with fascinating stories that shed light on the inner workings of Wikipedia, the world’s largest and most comprehensive encyclopedia.

Filled with enthralling stories of Wikipedia vandalism, quirky and eccentric characters, and offering a look behind the scenes of the world’s most used and trusted source of information, “The Encycopedia Game” is at once amusing, intriguing, and endearing.

The Encyclopedia Game

More of the interview with ‘Cognition’ below. Continue reading

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that not just anyone can edit

Wikipedia logo Wikipedia is amazing, but I’ve come to realise that getting involved in actual editing work there is a very daunting prospect. Adding a link or fixing a typo is simple enough, but when it comes to creating a new article from scratch a new Wikipedian will discover that they have a lot to learn.

In this post I’ve listed what I think are the barriers to entry for an aspiring Wikipedia editor. This post may also be useful as a ‘getting started’ guide.[1]

Continue reading

Monmouthpedia

This is a neat Wikipedia idea that’s been getting a lot of press today.[1]

Monnow Bridge

Monmouthpedia will be the first Wikipedia project to cover a whole town, creating articles on interesting and notable places, people, artefacts, flora, fauna and other things in Monmouth in as many languages as possible including Welsh.

We are very keen for local people to be involved in what ever way they would like. Computer skills are not that important, it’s the interest and the willingness to be involved, suggesting and writing articles, taking and donating photos and recommending good reference materials. If you speak another language it would be great place to practice your writing skills and learn new vocabulary and grammar. There are a lot of opportunities for community involvement including teaching and learning of I.T skills, local history, natural history, languages and people of different ages working together.[2]

I can see a couple of drawbacks however.

Continue reading

What does it feel like to be stupid?

Tonight I joined Quora (It’s like Yahoo! Answers for smart people) and spotted the question What does it feel like to be stupid?

The best answer is from an anonymous user who suffered from an arterial problem which reduced the blood supply to his heart and brain, making him forgetful, slow, and easily overwhelmed…

However, once I got used to it and resigned myself, it was great. Even though I knew I had a worrying illness, I was happy as a pig in mud. I no longer had the arrogance of being frustrated with slow people, I abandoned many projects which reduced a lot of stress, I could enjoy films without knowing what would happen (my nickname before this used to be ‘comic book guy’ if you get the reference), and I became amazingly laid back and happy go lucky. I got on with people much better. I developed much more respect for one of my friends in particular who I always considered slow – it turned out he is much deeper than I thought, I just never had the patience to notice before. You could say I had more time to look around. The world just made more sense. The only negative, apart from struggling to perform at work, and having to write everything down, was that I no longer found sci-fi interesting – it just didn’t seem important. (I’m not joking, although it sounds like a cliché.)

(via What does it feel like to be stupid? – quora.com)

He did recover, and you will be pleased to learn that he regained his love of science fiction.

Continue reading

Down and Out in the Uncanny Valley

David from Ironic Sans has an interesting idea for a film:

Idea: The uncanny valley as a plot element

I’ve been thinking the past few days about the uncanny valley in animation. I think it could be used as a plot element in a movie. Through some bit of sci-fi magic, an all-CGI character exists in our real world, but nobody accepts him because there’s something just not right about him. He exists in the uncanny valley and so everyone has a bit of revulsion or discomfort about him.

But that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I’m not sure what kind of story would best make use of this idea. How does a CGI character live in our world? Is it a ToonTown kind of thing, where animated characters have always lived among us, and he’s the first CGI character to be born? Or is it magic? I don’t like the idea of magic in a story like this. I think it should either be sci-fi somehow, or just left unexplained.

via Idea: The uncanny valley as a plot element – ironicsans.com

I left a comment with my own suggestion for how it could be done:

I love it. They would have to live in California, outside LA, in an area dubbed the Uncanny Valley.

Or maybe it’s a future where pretty much everyone wears contacts that allow them to see augmented reality – 3D creations blended seamlessly into our surroundings. Mostly this is used to display flashy ads, and stuff. However, Uncanny Bob is one of the first computer generated creations to become sentient. He meets up with a group of renegade CG characters (misfits from old ad campaigns: a Coke Santa Claus, a swimsuit model, some kids cartoon characters etc) and together they find a sympathetic human hacker who agrees to break into Big Ad Company and rescue their consciousness from the local sever onto the internet at large so they won’t ever be deleted.

Posted by: Foomandoonian | November 16, 2010 1:20 PM

Could make a great short film!

Continue reading

Wikipedia’s comedy synopsis of ‘Baby Got Back’

Quote

The song opens with two young females discussing the physical appearance of a third female, in particular her buttocks, which they find unfathomably large.

In the opening verse, Sir Mix-a-Lot professes his affinity for large buttocks and his inability to disguise this fact from others. He goes on to describe other desirable physical attributes, such as a trim waistline, tight-fitting garments, and unblemished skin. Though the song does not contain a distinct narrative, the author does visit recurring themes, such as female body image as depicted in media, male attitudes toward dating and relationships, and the author’s own sexual prowess.

In later verses he expresses his exasperation with the entertainment industry’s portrayal of the ideal female form. He soundly rejects the notion promulgated by fashion magazines that diminutive buttocks are more desirable. His critique of the women who appeared in contemporary music videos is particularly scathing, likening their appearance to those of prostitutes. To further illustrate his point, he stipulates that the purported ideal proportions of 36-24-36 (measuring the bust, waist, and hip circumferences respectively) would only be pleasing on women with a standing height no greater than 63 inches.

Mix-a-Lot also briefly touches upon the roles that ethnicity, nutrition, and physical fitness play in determining the shape and size of the female buttocks. He recommends that any exercises performed should be limited to the abdominal area. He cautions against a fitness routine strenuous enough to diminish the heft of the gluteal muscles. Though he offers no broad dietary guidelines, Mix-a-Lot contends that the dish “red beans and rice” is an important food staple for maintaining healthy buttocks.

Various lyrics address the fact that some men find no intrinsic value in large buttocks and consequently express a lack of interest. Mix-a-Lot makes clear that he would eagerly strike up relations with any woman overlooked or discarded by such men. The remainder of the narrative is fleshed out with the author’s various attempts to entice women into enjoying a ride in his luxury automobile. [3]

Baby Got Back – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Via codinghorror who says: “I suspect this backdooring (omglol) of humor into Wikipedia through song synopses won’t be tolerated for long.”

Probably, but I had to back this one up here! :D

Updated 2013.01.19 to change the attribution link to the appropriate Wikipedia diff page, instead of the current edit, and to tweak my post title.

Graphic Adventures: A book of compiled and expanded Wikipedia entries

What I did was edit the Wikipedia articles through heavy or light rewriting, depending on what I figured the article would need to look good in book form. I then went to find additional information from other sources where I felt having more could be fun, and I added screenshots. And then I conducted interviews with many people who were involved in producing the classic graphic adventures. I interviewed creators like Al Lowe of Leisure Suit Larry, Lucasfilm’s David Fox, and Michael Bywater, who worked with Douglas Adams on the game Starship Titanic. The book took much longer than expected… the original idea after all was to merely compile an encyclopedia from Wikipedia, a book for perhaps a small but dedicated group of fans like me. But after sending myself the first draft version, I realized much more editing was needed to have something really fun.

Graphic Adventures: A book of compiled and expanded Wikipedia entries

(via blogoscoped.com)

What a great way to write a book. Philipp Lenssen says he is donating 50% of the book’s revenues to the Wikimedia Foundation, but doesn’t mention whether he contributed any of his original findings back to Wikipedia (although now I think about it, I’m fairly certain Wikipedia discourages original research).

He’s released it under the GNU Free Documentation License, and you can download the HTML documents in a .zip file.

WikiReader

WikiReader The WikiReader is a funky Hitch-Hikers Guide style gadget that gives you Wikipedia in your pocket. I love the form, the touchscreen, the low power consumption, the low price and that it uses a MicroSD card. You can subscribe to bi-annual updates and they will post you the cards, or you can download the (4GBs of) data yourself.

I’m waiting for an e-reader gadget like this, but the size of a paperback, that allows you to put any data on the card to read. Ideally running some flavour of Linux. And none of this copy protection nonsense!

That’s all I want. Continue reading

Wikipedia list of misconceptions: Evolution

Non-avian dinosaurs died out in the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous period.

  • Evolution does not attempt to address the question of the origin of life: for that, see abiogenesis. The two are commonly conflated.
  • Evolution is not a random process but one guided by the process of natural selection. A common misconception is that the absence of conscious intervention means that the process becomes random.
  • Evolution does not need to be directed (although some believe it is). It is not accidental or random, but it is a process, like bouncing a ball, or generating a fractal, that appears to create an intelligent pattern, but which on inspection is very simple.
  • Humans never evolved from chimpanzees; instead they share a common ancestor (possibly Sahelanthropus tchadensis) that existed around 7 Ma in the late Miocene epoch. Some scientists think the split may have occurred several million years earlier.
  • Evolution says nothing about cosmology, the big bang, or where the universe, galaxy, solar system, or earth came from. Evolution is only about life.
  • Evolution does not need to be slow. Millions of years are not required to see evolution, or even speciation in action.
  • Evolution does not happen within a single creature: a chimp cannot be born a chimp and turn into a gorilla. You need at least one generation to observe evolution. To be provable evolution, you need quite a few generations, in order to establish that the changes remain in subsequent generations, though.
  • Evolution does not require an increase in complexity. A population can evolve to become simpler, and have a shorter genome – often called “devolve”, but that is a misnomer.
  • Evolution does posit “transitional forms”… but not “endpoint forms”. That is, every animal, plant, fossil that exists, is an example of a transitional form. Evolution is a constant process.
  • It is often claimed that there are no “transitional forms”. When people say “transitional forms” they generally mean “a common ancestor for two populations”: of which there are many.[5][6]
  • Evolution has been observed, countless times, in and out of the laboratory.[7][8]
  • Some believe that as Evolution is a “theory”, it is merely a hypothesis, rather than a proven fact of life. Evolution is a “theory” in the same way as the theories of gravity, thermodynamics, etc. The word “theory” has a different meaning in a scientific context than in a casual, which may have lead to this misunderstanding.
  • Evolution does not claim that phenotypic changes (changes caused by the environment, such as larger size due to better diet, amputations, etc) can be passed from generation to generation.
  • The claim that “all (or almost all) mutations are harmful” is false. One study gives the average number of mutations that arise in a human conception to be around 128, and an average number of harmful mutations per conception of 1.3.[9]
  • Evolution does not happen within just one creature: you need the entirety of a population to observe evolution. You need some of them to breed, and some not to.
  • Evolution is not progress from “lower” to “higher”. In that sense, “Evolution” is a misnomer.

EDITED 2011.09.18 to add obligatory XKCD link.