Sep 30, 2004


Isn't it beautiful?

Among good things connected with capitalism and market economy is that: when a new market is given to them, they will make it accessible to general public ASAP.

Space gravity products...moon bases...what NASA couldn't do in 40 years, I bet private companies will do in less then 20.

Sep 29, 2004

Outside Context Problem

One of the most interesting concepts I have ever read about. And one of the most beautiful sentences I have read as well...I love sf.

An Outside Context Problem is a term introduced by Iain M. Banks in his novel Excession:

"An Outside Context Problem was the sort of thing most civilisations encountered just once, and which they tended to encounter rather in the same way a sentence encountered a full stop. The usual example given to illustrate an Outside Context Problem was imagining you were a tribe on a largish, fertile island; you'd tamed the land, invented the wheel or writing or whatever, the neighbours were cooperative or enslaved but at any rate peaceful and you were busy raising temples to yourself with all the excess productive capacity you had, you were in a position of near-absolute power and control which your hallowed ancestors could hardly have dreamed of and the whole situation was just running along nicely like a canoe on wet grass... when suddenly this bristling lump of iron appears sailless and trailing steam in the bay and these guys carrying long funny-looking sticks come ashore and announce you've just been discovered, you're all subjects of the Emperor now, he's keen on presents called tax and these bright-eyed holy men would like a word with your priests."

Sep 28, 2004

Happy Idiot Talk

Sometimes it is good to step away from thinking in abstract, scientific terms about the future. Yes, the Singularity is a'comin', and Toffler's Third Wave is trying its best to submerge us, but I find that if you don't know where that road leads, you basically don't care about it.

And when one actually hears people talking about future, too often it is a variant of scaremongering and pessimistic ignorance. Brrr...I say enough is enough! Why shouldn't the future be nice? If I have anything to say about this, I will strive to create The Culture on Earth.

Utopian? Sure. Waste of life? Beats couch rat's race and potato life strategies, IMHO at least.

See you in the special circumstances...

Sep 24, 2004

EU Democracy Day

It is always nice to have something to celebrate, isn't it?


On 2003-09-24, the European Parliament voted to clearly make software unpatentable in Europe and to defend basic liberties of the information society, such as freedom of "computer-implemented" reasoning and calculating, freedom of publication, freedom of interoperation. The Parliament's decision was backed by a large and well-informed consensus of programmers, entrepreneurs, economists and consultative organs of the EU. Many MEPs said that they had never before witnessed so intense participation of citizens in their decisionmaking.


But Commissioner Bolkestein and the Council of ministers moved swiftly to discard the Parliament's decision and, on May 18th, reach a "political agreement" in favor of their clientele, patent officials and patent lawyers of multinational corporations, which ensures unlimited patentability of "computer-implemented" algorithms and business methods in Europe. This agreement was reached against the will or without consultation of most national parliaments. The Dutch Parliament passed a resolution to oblige its government to withdraw from the agreement, but the government (steered by advisers from its patent office) chose to disregard this resolution. Yet slowly, some governments have started to move. On 2004-09-24, the first anniversary of EU Democracy Day, the Council of Ministers could decide to put the "political agreement" back on the negotiation agenda and begin a more accountable process.


It is an important day and an important cause that still needs your support!

Sep 23, 2004


There has been a lot going over the past few days for me. I won't bore you with the details, since it is not the point of this blog. Instead on dwelling on myself, I will try to show you a few interesting thoughts I had recently (errr...I see a problem with this sentence) regarding the article I mentioned in my last posting (now, better?).

1. Internet makes some private goods (like encyclopedia, phones, software) to become public.
2. This may slowly change capitalism.
3. Even if it is just a small influence on the economic system, it defiently increases cooperation (simpy by making it easier and cheaper).
4. This can be viewed as the increase of 'good', 'ethicial' and so on. It is not important if you view the humans as 'good' or 'evil' from birth and how important is their upringing and education and such. Humans are behaving better due to the net, and that is a fact.
4a. Sidenote: majority of tech developments have that effect. Question: is technology an ultimate saviour of humanity?
5. Through RL may be a bitch, and this likely won't change anytime soon, Internet slowly but surely improves both quality of our lives - and ourselves, making us better people.

I feel better now. Take care,

Sep 21, 2004

The case of Wikipedia

In my info gahtering, I stumbled upon a very interesting article by Andrea Ciffolilli.

It shows a lot of conclusions I have independently reached (most of them can be found in my MT thesis and later articles), but I admit it is more throughout when it comes to the 'why's and 'how's behind the reasons for creations and growth of virtual communities, something that I barerly scratched (and motly took as granted) in my works. It uses Wiki as one of the examples, and shows - interestingly - that when it is as easy to help as to destroy (or perhaps even easier), then people will help. Quite an optimistic thought for an academic article :)

There certainly is great charm exerted by successful projects of massive collaboration producing a public good or a club - Tell me, how often do you hear a word 'charm' used in such a publication? Charming :)

Anyway, it is a very interested read if you want to see how Internet promotes cooperation and promises to change the economy of the future (if you follow the logical conclusion and apply the cooperative projects to other venues of life). Utopian, you say? Did you read my blog about Skype and the death bell of modern telecoms?? Internet is going to - directly or indirectly - revolutionize both democracy (a political system) and capitalism (an economic system), and most likely all other elements of the social system.

Remember - I told you so, so don't you be future shocked :)

Sep 20, 2004

Wikipedia Reaches One Million Articles

Wikipedia Reaches One Million Articles

20 September, 2004 (Tampa, Florida):

The Wikimedia Foundation announced today the creation of the one millionth article in Wikipedia, its project to create a free, open-content, online encyclopaedia ( Started in January 2001, Wikipedia is currently both the world's largest encyclopaedia and the fastest-growing, with articles under active development in over 100 languages. Nearly 2,500 new articles are added to Wikipedia each day, along with ten times as many updates to existing articles.

Wikipedia is created entirely by volunteers who contribute, update, and revise articles in a collaborative process. "The idea of sharing knowledge is powerful," said Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's founder.

Wikipedia's process is governed by Wikipedia's official neutral point of view (NPOV) policy, which requires that contributors work to avoid bias in writing articles. Even articles covering controversial topics can be developed using this process. Contributors build upon each other's changes and flawed edits are quickly repaired. "Everything is peer-reviewed in real time," said Wales.

Wikipedia now ranks as one of the ten most popular reference sites on the Internet, according to ( It is increasingly used as a resource by students, journalists, and everyday researchers. Wikipedia has also been cited thousands of times in a diverse array of documents and publications, including news reports, books, academic studies, and even legal documents.

With its dedicated community of volunteers, Wikipedia has also gained recognition as a website for community interaction. This has led to Wikipedia winning two international prizes in 2004, the Prix Ars Electronica ( for "Digital Communities" and a Webby Award ( for "Best Community."

Wikipedia runs on a wiki software platform called MediaWiki, which allows anyone to edit a page at any time and have one's changes visible instantly (wiki means 'quick' in Hawaiian). Visitors can also examine older versions of pages to see how an article has developed.

In addition, static versions of Wikipedia are being prepared for release on CD or DVD. Soon to be available is a German-language version distributed by Directmedia Publishing. Wikipedia is working on a bilingual French/English DVD release of the encylopedia in collaboration with Mandrakesoft (, publisher of the Mandrakelinux OS(, which will be included as part of an upcoming distribution.

All Wikipedia text is published under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licence ( (GFDL), which lets contributors enhance and modify each other's work based on a principle known as "copyleft." This means the licence allows third parties the right to reuse Wikipedia articles as long as they pass on that right to others. The MediaWiki software is available under a similar licence designed for software.

Wikipedia is becoming increasingly multilingual; for the past year, it has experienced most of its growth in languages other than English. Out of the more than 100 Wikipedia languages, 14 currently have over 10,000 articles (English ( 348,000, German ( 141,000, Japanese ( 72,000, French ( 52,000, Swedish ( 40,000, Polish ( 38,000, Dutch ( 35,000, Spanish ( 29,000, Italian ( 24,000, Danish ( 20,000, Portuguese ( 16,000, Esperanto ( 15,000, Chinese ( 13,000, and Hebrew ( 10,000).

In addition to Wikipedia, the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation ( supports several multilingual sister projects, including Wiktionary (a dictionary and thesaurus at, Wikiquote (a compendium of famous quotations at, Wikibooks (a collection of manuals and textbooks at, and Wikisource (a repository of public domain documents at All of these projects are published under the same licence and run on MediaWiki software. To support these projects, the Foundation has raised over US$100,000 (£55,000 or €80,000) since its creation and is holding a fundraising drive from September 20 to October 3 with the aim of raising an additional $50,000. More information is available and donations can be made at

With changes being made every minute of every day, it is impossible to predict where Wikipedia and its sister projects will be one year from now. But Wikipedia's rate of growth has continued to increase in recent months, and at its current pace Wikipedia would double in size again by next spring.

Truth soon to be

On Wendsday I will have an interview at the University I wrote earlier which will determine if I will be able to start my PhD studies this year. Keep your fingers crossed...I am not good at f2f contacts :>

Been doing lots of reading on various releated subject, democracy, politicial systems, economy, etc. in case they decide to ask me something. I found that writing stuff down is the best way to learn them - and is there a better place to do it then Wiki? I learn and at the same time create resources other can use. That is what I call 'nifty' :D

In other news. Gaim 1.00 has been released. It replaces ICQ, MSN, YIM and other clients (yeah, it let's you keep old contact lists), with its slick open source great UI window. It works on all OSes. I wrote more about it few weeks ago, so feel free to dig into blog archieves for more info if you dont feel like reading about it on the official page or Wiki. Anyway, try it out!

Speaking of useful open source tools, I think this is interesting: a html editor that apparently works like an add-on to a browser. FCKeditor. They have a demo on the page so you will see what I mean better then if I were to explain it here...

See ya,

Sep 18, 2004

Link day

Have some good links today.

1. "In every age, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same." Great space opera anime, Legend of the Galactic Heroes: review, torrents. What is torrent? Read here. If you like the anime and want to buy it, go sign this petition for official release in English (the torrent files have fan subtitles, don't worry).

2. For all those wise enough to use Mozilla, this should improve its performance: navigate to about:config. Create a new boolean pref using the content area context menu. Its name is "config.trim_on_minimize". Set its value to false. Exit and relaunch the app (aka Bug 76831).

3. And for the icing on the cake, watch this short animation Iconwars, it is hilarious.

Enjoy the links,

Sep 16, 2004

DNA Repair - the way to immortality?

Everybody is a well known truth. But why does it have to be this way?

Wiki sais: Theories that explain senescence can generally be divided between the programmed and error theories of aging. Programmed theories imply that aging is regulated by biological clocks operating throughout the life span. This regulation would depend on changes in gene expression that affect the systems responsible for maintenance, repair and defense responses. Error theories blame environmental insults to living organisms that induce cumulative damage at various levels as the cause of aging (e.g., DNA damage, oxygen radicals, cross-linking).

All right. And now, consider this: Certain genes are known to influence variation in lifespan within a population of organisms. Studies in model organisms such as yeast, worms, flies and mice have identified single genes, which when modified, can double lifespan (eg. a mutation in the age-1 gene of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans). These genes are known to be associated specifically with cell functions other than DNA repair

DNA repair is very likely the key to immortality. For long version of why I think so, read the above Wiki article. For short, understand that various DNA repair technologies should stop people from aging, and with the current rate of increase in scientific discoveries, this may happen quite soon.

Doesn't it make you feel...young?

Sep 15, 2004

The recent bookmarks

Show me your bookmarks and I will tell you who you are.

To this end, let me share few of my latest bookmarks with you.

1. Joel on Software - page has few interesting articles. So far I read the Social Interface Design
which deals with interesting concept of designing software to benefit the society in general and plan to read others soon.

2. Anime Wallpapers - hunderds of kawaii anime wallpapers, no registration required to download.

3. How Authoritative is Wikipedia - title sais it all. How similar is Wiki to your normal, ? How reliable it is? As an added bonus, you get another blog to read :>

4. And 5 Omniglot and 6 Language Museum since they are about the same thing: those are the most useful resources I found (excpet Wiki) when writing my latest article about History of Communication (in Polish. Feel free to read it here).

Errr...any hints where I could have this published? :D

I any case...bookmark away!
which deals with interesting concept of designing software to benefit the society in general and plan to read others soon.

Sep 14, 2004

Wind, Sand, and Stars

"Transport of the mails, transport of the human voice, transport of flickering pictures - in this century, as in others, our highest accomplishments still have the single aim of bringing men together." - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Why do I think that by studying communicaton technology we can glipse on the future of mankind?

Becouse communication increases coopearation, and expanding cooperation is what differentiates humans from animals. Sure, they cooperate as well - but we do it on such a larger scale. Speech and its offsprings, from alphabet to print and Internet allowed us to build the civilisation - and will likely carry us forward towards the Singularity.

Just keep on talkin' will be enough for a world to change.

Sep 12, 2004

Right to vote

When the building is on fire, you don't call for friends or bypassers, you want the firefighters.
When you are victim of a crime, you don't go to plumber or professor, you want the police or detectives.
When your roof is leaking you dont go to shopkeepers nor to violin players, you want a building/roof specialist kind of person.
And when you are sick you usually tend to go to a medical doctor and wouldn't seek the help of an economist or mathematician, right?

And in all those cases, you dont ask various peple nearby for their vote on what to do. Imagine if police detectives were to start discussing with all near passerbys how to solve the crime. Or better, on how to carry the reanimation procedure on the victim. Sounds like a joke?

Change of subjects. Kasparov versus The World. The World was an Internet free-for-all who voted on their moves. Check this out: it was clear from a look at the voting results that, although the World Team was managing to pick theoretically correct moves, many rank amateurs were voting as well. Demonstrably bad moves were garnering a significant percentage of the votes; even worse, on move 12, about 2.4% of the voters chose illegal moves which didn't get the World Team out of check! (MSN declined to release the raw vote totals, but apparently over five thousand people were voting on each move.) Third, the World Team was not coordinating well with itself on the bulletin board. Typical posts were of the form, "My suggested move is brilliant, and if you don't vote for it, you are an idiot!". Much more energy was being spent on flame wars than on analysis.

Doesn't it remind you of something?

Why is it that when it comes to politics, we dont distinguish between people's backgrounds and experience? It is a fact that majority fells victim to PRs aka marketing, and for them nice catch-phrases and candidate good looks are more important then the details of their political programme. After all, who has the time to dive into those boring brochures, not to mention understand all economic and sociologic terms in them - not to mention looking for older ones, seeing if the politician and his party have kept their old promises and such?

So the bottom line is we show more responsibility when it comes to almost everything - except politics, which in the ends deals only with such trivial matters as allocation of national resources, collecting taxes, creating and enforcing laws...

Here is my solution: equal right to vote is not the best solution. People are NOT equale. Let's face it, some are plain dumb, others are brilliant, and many are specialist at their field and hobbies but complete lamers at others. For now, we have no choice but to elect representatives - politicians. But in the future, when we will be able to decide ourselves by e-voting, and the caste of politicans goes to the rubber heap to rest alongsides nobles, aristocrats and such, before each vote the voter should be subject to a test determining his qualifications to vote on that matter.

Good will is not good enough, check your local road to hell for more info. If you want to have a say about something, make sure you know what you are speaking. Speach is silver, silence is gold, and just being able to say 'yes' or 'no' proves only that you can make some coherent sounds - but not that you now anything else.

Intelligence is a responsibilty. Wisdom is earned. And if some people just don't give a damn about them, I say they have no right to vote on my fate. Keep that in mind.

Sep 6, 2004

Finally made it

Today, on the Main Page of Wikipedia, the Featured Article is Warsaw Uprsing, prepared among others by yours truly :)

I honestly hope this will be interesting...and finally make people stop confusing The '44 Warsaw Upring with the earlier '43 Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Have a nice reading, if you havent done it so far

Sep 2, 2004

His Master's Voice

Głos Pana (en. His Master's Voice) is one of the best books by Stanisław Lem. After a signal from extra-terrestial civilisation is discovered, the truth is hidden by secret services and various political and economical interests. Please keep in mind that this book was written few decades before X-files :)

Anyway, Seti@home have given us what may be IT. Or may not. In any case, it is a great example of what cooperation can do - and competition cannot. If only people would cooperate more instead of trying to kill each other in the worldwide rat's race. Oh well. Back to the topic at hand.

CNN: Space signal studied for alien contact
New Scientist: Mysterious signals from 1000 light years away
Me: now that's interesting. Keeping my fingers crossed...

Will this be IT? How lovely it would be to wipe that smirk of those unbeliver faces...

It is coming. Can you hear it?

Sep 1, 2004

Common scold

Somedays I think that I should rename my blog to 'Wiki curiosities'. Honestly, I could blog every day about some interesting Wiki article. While I don't plan to talk everyday only about Wiki, today I will. And the topic is: common scold

A punishment which was politicaly incorrect (since it could be applied only to women), but how useful. For all those nagging and pesky neighbours who can make one life a living hell - a dip in the water. Aye, those Brits had some great ideas, right, mate?

Now tell me honestly - if you saw this on April Fools day, you would bet your life that it was a joke, right?

While I love science fiction (and fiction in general), sometimes one can find that real life is by no means less bizzare.

Till next time,
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