Scripting News for 5/25/2006

Top Podcasts is a new readout of the most-subscribed-to podcasts among Share Your OPML users. Obviously just getting started, with only 117 subscribers for the top-rated podcast, but numbers are interesting, imho.  

Randy Morin: “The coolest new happening in Web 2.0-land in that last month is Share Your OPML.” 

Apparently, Web 2.0 is a trademark. CMP sent a letter to an Irish conference on June 8 using the term in its name, demanding that they cease and desist. 

According to Google, the term “Web 2.0” appears 79,400,000 times on the web. 

NY Times: “Viacom now has an explicit policy. In a section on confidentiality, it states that the employee is ‘discouraged from publicly discussing work-related matters, whether constituting confidential information or not, outside of appropriate work channels, including online in chat rooms or blogs.'” 

4/26/06: “Of course what I wanted to talk about is Rather becoming a blogger. He said that [Viacom] discourages it.” 

Nick Bradbury: Pick a Format (Any Format). Agree. 

Instructables is a “community for showing what you make and how others can make it.” 

Ross Mayfield says that Nick Carr is the new Dave Winer. I imagine he intended this as an insult, but I’m happy to be compared with Carr, if he’s going to keep challenging the sloppy thinking so typical of technology hucksters. 

XML-RPC is getting new respect from Microsoft and Linden Labs. It’s always been a popular site, lots of implementations, it’s rational, easy to use technology that works well. 

Realistic expectations for Wikipedia 

The comment thread that followed Nick Carr’s piece about Wikipedia illustrates the mistake of the most zealous Wikipedia advocates, they fail to set expectations accurately, and then, when someone like Carr takes their hype at face value, they attack him for not knowing how Wikipedia really works. It’s a Catch-22, they attack because he believed them. Sort of makes people reluctant to discuss Wikipedia.

In this case, Carr said that anyone could edit any piece at any time. That’s certainly the core element of the hype around Wikipedia. Now we find out that there are limits. The advocates say this was always true. Carr thought it was a change, and he can be forgiven for that, because the very same zealots told us it was so.

This is the dangerous anti-intellectual side of Wikipedia.

It’s valuable, it really is, I point to Wikipedia articles regularly, but always with an implicit caveat. I can’t be sure that the article I point to today, that I believe is accurate today, will be accurate tomorrow.

Now if the strongest advocates of Wikipedia would start talking realistically about the weaknesses of the approach in addition to the strengths, the utopian stuff, we might be able to work together to improve it. But there’s no evidence of that in the latest round.

Postscript: Carr says it’s time to bury the mythology surrounding Wikipedia, and I couldn’t agree more strongly.

Sitting by the river 

The Chinese have a saying that if you sit by the river long enough, the dead body of your enemy will come floating by.

7 responses to this post.

  1. I completely agree with you, but wanted to point out one thing: Wikipedia does support persistent links to specific page versions. So, if you want to reference a Wikipedia article that you believe is accurate, you can use the persistent link.

    Kind of cumbersome, but may be a little better.

    For example, the current Dave Winer article is:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dave_Winer&oldid=54090291

    Cheers,
    Robert

    Reply

  2. I don’t know who these advocates are Dave, but they don’t sound like Wikipedians to me. If you are talking about Wikipedians, we have been talking about Wikipedia’s weaknesses and what can be done about them on Wikipedia itself. Here’s some criticism of wikipedia. Some more. Feel free to contribute.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Richard Querin on May 25, 2006 at 11:49 am

    How can Nick Carr be the new Dave Winer when Kent Newsome declared Steve Gillmor to be the new Dave Winer a week and a half ago? (http://www.newsome.org/2006/05/steve-gillmor-is-new-dave-winer.shtml)

    What is it like to be the Old Dave Winer anyway? 🙂

    Reply

  4. I do agree there is a myth(hype) surrounding Wikipedia. It has changed. No doubt about it.

    I was recently caught up in a Cabal Mediation where the accuser was asking that I and few others be banned. I had removed a commercial link in a National Park article that linked to a site with excessive advertising and sales of park images. It was clearly SPAM according the the Wikipedia guidelines. Nothing happened with the exception of the accuser being banned for 24 hours. In my view Wikipedia has attracted to many people with alterer motives. It’s forced Wikipedia to change into what it is today. It’s starting to make working in Wikipedia very un-appealing for the average person.

    So, how do Wikipedia’s problems get solved exactly? I have seen a lot of talk on both sides but very few proposed solutions. What would you propose?

    BTW,
    I find it hard to believe that the end solution will come from a few backdoor conversations with Whales. Solutions need to be talked about in public so that the people who actually produce the site can comment and help shape it’s future.

    Thanks

    Reply

  5. Hey Dave,

    How in the world are you calculating the top podcasts? We have 91 feed subscribers in Share your OPML, and yet we aren’t listed… That should make us #3 on the list.

    Hard to see how the #3 podcast gets left off.

    Reply

  6. If CMP has a trademark on Web 2.0, its value has certainly been diluted. It is so overused now that it is already starting to lose its meaning. I wouldn’t even think of referring to my product http://listring.com as such, even though it lets people contribute and share data, similar to blogs, with RSS. We need new terms that are more descriptive. The ‘Interactions Web’ is one possiblity, but I’d like to hear of others.

    Reply

  7. Posted by Matt on May 25, 2006 at 6:34 pm

    The whole wikipedia debate seems like a waste of time for all involved. Why don’t we all agree that it’s not a perfect system and discuss changes?

    Even if we don’t all agree on the flaws.. I don’t think you need to wait for the idealistic wikipedians to get realistic… why not just offer your ideas on this blog?

    Reply

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