Dec 25, 2006

A forgotten poem

Long time ago (read: several years), when I was still gamemastering Earthdawn in Kraków (good old times), I found a very nice journal. Around that time, when I was on holiday in some warm southern European country, I stumbled upon a very nice Earthdawn poem. Being unable to save it (era of floppy drives, and don't ask me why I didn't get one, I don't remember); I wrote it down on a paper bag :) And I can tell you why I wrote the poem down instead of the url: it was unfinished, and I liked it so much, that I decided to finish it myself (which, amazingly, I did).

Today, I found the bag. A quick internet search seems to indicate the page is no longer online (I thought it was on that journal page, but it isn't); I can't find it in the Internat Archives... so I decided to rewrtie it from the paper bag here, and help ensure it is immortalized on the web.

The poem is dedicated to the twelve Passions of Earthdawn. As any fan of Earthdawn knows, three of those entities went mad during the Scourge; the poem as I found was the post-Scourge variants, missing three strophes - as it is considered unlucky to mention the names of the Mad Passions. Long story short, I wrote the missing strophes, and I am still happy with that job.

Disclaimers: if the unnamed author ever comes forward, kudos to him! In few places I couldn't read my old scribblings so I had to change his words; and in a oneor two others I replaced his verses with my own when I thought they sounded better. So, without further due, the new Hymn to the Twelve Passions:

The first to enter with this song,
To leave her out would do much wrong
For Astendar comes forth from our art
And by her love burns heart to heart.

With money comes Chorrolis touch,
The glint of gold, the jewels, and such.
And glad for trade he makes your mind,
For beauty's sake, he walks behind.

About the home is Garlen realm,
For any ilness she is a balm.
A gentle touch beyond the view,
A mother stays to comfort you.

Within the woods, the restless wild,
Jaspree galoops, storm and mild.
Outside the city, rules he there,
All things of nature are in his care.

Boundaries forged of stone and brick,
Upandal builds them well to stick.
With thoughtful planning, patent tries,
He's nearby when machines rise.

Thystonius, champion of the brave
Honors war, strife, for valor's sake.
For all who live and die by sword
They may be certain he's their lord.

Freedom's sacred to us all,
Lochost brings change to any soul.
For life is change as all may see
And seeing change we are all free.

The wind blows strong to charge your feet,
Flonranuus in your speed you greet.
He aids the body and helps soul fight,
With blaze of future, always bright.

Mynbruje's law is justice and truth.
Rights and duties live under her roof.
Those left behind or falsly blamed,
Will topple giants with sound of her name.

Feared by many he brings good health,
Vestrial cares not for signs of wealth.
Pride worst enemy, friend of quick wit
His laughter echoes with many a trick.

In every pattern there is her trace,
And laws of man reflect her grace.
Erendis is hard work that brings us peace.
When she is gone, all is amiss.

There is always first and and foremost,
And Rashomon is one behind such post.
Where there is need for wisdom, not speed,
His words should be the ones they heed.

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Dec 23, 2006

The cabal

I am there, too - second from the right, front row :) On a more serious note, this does seem to prove (since we have no stats yet) that Wikipedia is male dominated...


Dec 4, 2006

Movie advert 7 (Kochaj albo rzuć)

Polish Student Alliance
in Pittsburgh, PA

invites you to the
Movie of the week
: Kochaj albo rzuć

When? December 8 (Thursday) 7:00PM-9:00PM

Where? 4130 Posvar Hall (University of Pittsburgh)

Movie genre: comedy

Year: 1977; director: Sylwester Chęciński; length: 116m; color; English subtitles.

Last part of the saga of the two families in "Sami swoi" and "Nie ma mocnych". The seniors of both families with their granddaughter visit relatives in Chicago where the differences in customs, life conditions and habits create many comic situations.

It was one of the most popular Polish comedies of its times and still remains an old favorite. Lubomierz has a museum dedicated to the movies, and Toruń has a statue of the two main heroes, Kargul and Pawlak.

Winner of 1974 Polish Film Festival audience awards. IMdB ranking of 6.9/10.

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Nov 1, 2006

Movie advert 6 (Nie ma mocnych)

Polish Student Alliance
in Pittsburgh, PA

invites you to the
Movie of the week
: Nie ma mocnych

When? November 2 (Thursday) 7:00PM-9:00PM

Where? 4130 Posvar Hall (University of Pittsburgh)

Movie genre: comedy

Year: 1974; director: Sylwester Chęciński; length: 84m; color; English subtitles.

The main characters are the same two quarreling pesant families introduced in "Sami swoi" (shown the previous month). The action of the film starts 18 years later. The old quarrels have been forgotten, but new problems keep popping up. They have no adult male successors to inherit the farms. But they have a granddaughter, and a plan…

It was one of the most popular Polish comedies of its times and still remains an old favorite. Lubomierz has a museum dedicated to the movies, and Toruń has a statue of the two main heroes, Kargul and Pawlak.

Winner of 1974 Polish Film Festival audience awards. IMdB ranking of 7.8/10.

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Oct 17, 2006

The wheel of history

It is interesting to note that much of the trouble we have today with copyright was foreseen and discussed by people hundreds of years ago. I throughoutly enjoyed reading the 19th century speeches by Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay, which you can find here. Also, take note of this essey by Eric Flint, which directed me there in the first place.


Oct 14, 2006

Yalta, translated

My translation of 'Jałta' by Jacek Kaczmarski.

Like new tsars' residence,
Servants know their duties,
Far were the Tatars resettled,
From where the world is judged.

Widows now see, the walls listen
How coughs with his cigar the Lion,
How squeks the wheelchair pushed
with broken Democrat inside.

But nobody sees and nobody hears,
Highlander's doings in Crimean night,
When with faithful comrades' gesture
He speaks with his legandary power.

Don't blame Stalin,
He was not pulling the strings,
It was not his fault,
That Rooslvelt in Jałta had no strenght.
When the triumvirate together formed
the history of the world,
- It's obvious who played the Ceasar's role
and such is the truth behind Jałta.

In the weak light of cigar's butt
Floated the face of Albion's lion:
Let's not talk about the Baltic,
Why would Europe need so many states?

Poles? - after all there is just the matter
that they have to live somewhere...
Poland, it was always trouble...
The Cripple cares and shakes.

But sooths them master of the house,
Stroking his yellowish moustache:
My country will lend them a helping hand,
Later they can do what they want.

Don't blame Churchill,
He was not pulling the strings,
After all, the triumvirate was only there
So Stalin would get what he desired.
Who values peace,
Will always back out of the fight -
Win will the one who fears not the wars
And such is the truth behind Jałta.

The palace's walls strain to hear
When to the Cripple speaks the Lion -
- I believe in Stalin's thruthful words
He seems to care for Soviet's blood.

And so the Cripple nods to that,
Unbroken guardian of democracy
Stalin, he's the man of the century
The men of state, the leader!

As alliance of great ones, it's not a cabal
It's the world's future - freedom, order -
With them, the weak will survuve,
And receive his share... of losses.

Don't blame Roosvelt,
Think what he had to endure!
Pipe, cigar's smoke and bottle,
Churchill, who cared not for alliances.
After all, three empires talked
about the borders, unclear ones:
- and in the details, Beria lied,
And such is the truth behind Jałta.

So delegations flew away,
Quiet became the tsar's Crimean castle.
And when the West was loud with guns,
Humans like cattle were hearded East.

The free world later celebrated freedom,
The fronts suddenly became empty -
Flowers fell on the president's grave,
And there were transports, so many transports.

The red dawn follows the night
The voters voted, and Churchill left!
And there the transports of live people,
And there the camps of long death.

So don't blame the Big Three,
History's judgement was behind it
Designed in every detail -
Each of them protected, what they had.
They could have erred, in the moment -
He was not a Pole, not a Balt...
Only the victims are always right!
And such is the truth behind Jałta.

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Oct 13, 2006

Exploding encyclopedia

As much as I am a fan of Wiki, some things make me wonder...

And if this is in, have you ever thought about what is out?

And then, of course, we have BJAODN. Enter at your peril. And don't say I didn't warn you...

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Oct 12, 2006

The Dogma of Otherness

One of the most intriguing concepts I have run into recently is the 'The Dogma of Otherness' described by David Brin. In the time and place where political correctness and cultural relativism are much more popular than arguments about benefits of the Western culture, Brin ironically and with a tongue-in-cheek manages to show how the very critiques of the Western culture in fact manage to provide compelling arguments about its unique advantages. The logic he employs is very simple - perhaps even right there along the lines 'it's so simple only a genius can see it' :> His argument, in essence, boils down to the simple statement that the (modern) Western culture is the only one which not only allows but encourages critique of itself, thus it invites change (for better), is in the best position to assimilate good parts of other cultures, and (even if it is not 'polite' to say so) is the the most tolerant and positive of them all.

To illustrate his argument, let me quote from his essay:

"Anthropologists tell us that every culture has its core of central, commonly shared assumptions--some call them zeitgeists, others call them dogmas. These are beliefs that each individual in the tribe or community will maintain vigorously, almost like a reflex.

"It's a universal of every society. For instance, in the equatorial regions of the globe there's a dogma that could be called machismo, in which revenge is a paramount virtue that runs deeper even than religion. From Asian family centrism to Russian pessimism, there are worldviews that affect nations' behavior more basically than superficial things like communism, or capitalism, or Islam. It all has to do with the way children are raised.

"We, too, have our zeitgeist. But I am coming to see that contemporary America is very, very strange in one respect. It just may be the first society in which it is a major reflexive dogma that there must be no dogmas!"

"But think, for a moment, how unique this is . . . how unusual this cultural mind-set has to be! Throughout history nearly every human society has worked hard to ingrain its children with the assumption that theirs was the only way to do things. Oh, we still get a lot of that here. It probably comes automatically with flags and nations and all that tribal stuff. But where and when else has the societal dogma also included such a powerful counter-indoctrination to defend otherness?"

"The Dogma of Otherness insists that all voices deserve a hearing, that all points of view have something of value to offer."

Is there really a war of memes? Perhaps. But if there is, the dogma of otherness gets my full support - especially over other memes that Brin describes as its opponents (feudalism, machismo, paranoia, and "the East").

Links of interest:
*begining of 'The Dogma of Otherness' essay (unfortunatly the full text is not online, but you can get it from a library near you or buy online)
*The New Meme - another of Brin's essay's which discusses this issue (this one has full text available)
*Survival of the Fittest Ideas: The New Style of War -- a Struggle Among Memes (excerpt from Brin's speech)

Googling for "The Dogma of Otherness" produces also some other people's comments about this issue, but I think reading original Brin first is a better idea.

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Sep 28, 2006

Movie advert 5 (Sami swoi)

Polish Student Alliance
in Pittsburgh, PA

invites you to the
Movie of the week
: Sami swoi

When? October 5 (Thursday) 7:00PM-9:00PM

Where? 4130 Posvar Hall (University of Pittsburgh)

Movie genre: comedy

Year: 1967; director: Sylwester Chęciński; length: 81m; color; English subtitles.

The movie is the story of the two quarreling families, which after the end of the Second World War were resettled from Kresy to the Regained Territories, after Poland's borders were shifted westwards. The bad blood between them runs to the times one of Karguls plew a few inches ('3-fingers-width') into the Pawlak's territory, for which one of the Pawlaks hit him with a scythe and them escapes fearing retribution, emigrating to United States. Years later, he comes back, and finds that both families live peacefuly. His brother, Kazimierz, tells him the story of how the families came to terms, in a form of Romeo and Juliet-like marriage between Pawlak's son, Witia, and Kargul's daughter, Jadźka.

It was one of the most popular Polish comedies of its times and still remains an old favourite. Lubomierz has a museum dedicated to the movies, and Toruń has a statue of the two main heroes, Kargul and Pawlak.

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Aug 11, 2006

Photos from wikimania

To browse almost all photos, check 'wikimania2006' tag at Flickr and Category:Wikimania2006 on Commons. Here are some of the photos with yours truly:

From the left: Andrea (member of the Wikimedia Board of Trustees), Jimbo Wales and myself. Photo byMidom.

Others and me :) (2nd from the right). Also by Midom (tnx).

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Aug 7, 2006

Citizen Journalism

After Wikimania ended, there are still some aftershocks, the most important of those likely being the Citizen Journalism Unconference. The theme is citizen journalism, we have notes added on conference wiki, and you can see other content with 'citmedia06' tag (technocrati, flickr, etc.).



I was blogged about in the The Chronicle of Higher Education blog: Dispatches From Wikimania.

It's nice, but they missed few key points:
* sure, Wikipedia would benefit from the articles, but is is a minor issue. The major one is that the entire world would benefit from their contributions, and students themselves would realize that their work is useful instead of gathering dust on some shelves somewhere;
* one of the major advantages of having students learn how to contribute to Wikipedia is having them realize that writing papers does not have to be a boring assignment, but instead it's somehting millions of people do for fun;
* Wikipedia (and wikis in general) which were designed from bottom-up as the ultimate collaborative tools allow teachers to raise any collaborative learning activities to a new height;

I plan to have my PP slides downloadable soon - it seems like the promised download at Wikimania site has some delays.

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Wikimania Day 3 Report

Day 3 of Wikimania conference begun with the meeting of those interested in studying the 'great social experiment' that Wikipedia has, accidentaly, become. The Wikimedia Research Network got (hopefully) a much needed boost in members, as did one of the most important projects out there, the General User Survey. The GUS project is designed to fill in the giant missing gaps in our knowledge of Wikipedians: while we know their general numbers and can say a little about their productivity or some other editing patterns, many basic questions like the age, education, gender, or what do they (we...) think of MediaWiki interface can be answered with little more then some educated guesses. So GUS project is extremly important for those interested in 'who' keeps the Wikipedia project running.

While the big annoucements seemed to have ended with the revelations of the first two days, lot's of tiny useful things where discussed, from the new ultimate 3-D modelling tool, Sketch Up (which may not be very wiki related but it's free and so intuitive that it promises a new revolution in grapic design), through WikiPhone promising a better collaboration between Wiki users, the Great Firewall of China, the single login idea and the goodies of MediaWiki 2.0.

PS. Later in the day I got my picture taken with Jimbo :) All in all, it was another great day, and the biggest flow of the conference seems to have been its ending too soon.

PS2. As usual, I recommend browsing through Technocrati 'wikimania2006' tag for more relations!

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Aug 6, 2006

Wikimania Day 2 Report

I spent the entire day at the 'teaching' track. Among the most interesting things is the new partially ready software that will give the MediaWiki sotftware (the wiki software run by Wikipedia and many other wikis) functionality of the course management system. Everbody was also excited with the news about the upcoming WYSIWYG editor I mentioned yesterday.

And that's honestly the notable part of my day. Lot's of other issues, but nothing of general interest. Still, general impression: a great, great place. Try to catch some of the live casts from the tommorow's last day, or search for podcasts and videocasts using the 'wikimania2006' tags: there is lots of stuff, see technocrati, flickr, and likely other stuff I am not aware of :)

Trivia: Wiki-blog of Wikimania

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Aug 4, 2006

Wikimania Day 1 Report

So it all started with Jimbo Wales welcome and introduction (available as podcast). Andy Carvin has already blogged a good summary so just go read it there if you like :) (there is also some stuff here.

Among the highlights and my personal favourites is Wales annoucement of
WYSIWIG editor coming to Wikipedie in some unspecified future (with the help of great folks from SocialText), the potential of SemanticWiki and the great (as expected) speach by Lawrence Lessig (and his control of PowerPoint?? was just amazing, I have never seen anything like this... plus he showed two AMVs :D). Listen to Lessig's mp3 and read Andy's notes again, or hopefully we will have some video published soon...

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Jul 21, 2006

Wikipedia alliance with Library of Congress and USHMM

"Wikimedia Foundation representatives met this week with officials from two major institutions regarding the issue of access to archival materials. The Library of Congress has expressed interest in including Wikipedia content as part of its archive collection, while also indicating that it could make a sizable amount of its own material available for use on Wikimedia projects. In addition, use of a substantial collection belonging to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is being negotiated (...) The material would be available on terms compatible with Wikipedia licensing.. " (read the rest of Signpost story) It's nice to see traditional knowledge holders are begining to realize their goals are compatibile with Wikipedia. This is the snowball effect I have been mentioning from time to time - one of the factors supporting Wiikipedia exponential growth. Sure, they will be exceptions. But whenever somebody "breaks" and starts cooperating with Wikipedia, it makes it that much easier - or necessary - for others to follow his suit. And one of the beauties of this is that when you start working with Wikipedia, you enter the realm of open sourced and copylefted information. If Library of Congress starts supporting GFDL or CC, it will be a good day for all citizens :)


Jul 15, 2006

Wikipedia news flash - 15 July 2006

Rosenzweig's excellent academic article on Wikipedia draws relatively little attention from outside world, which is a shame, because all who read it agree it's top class. Have you read it yet? If no, it's a must.

Wikimania is almost here. But if you cannot make it to Boston, do not worry - Wikimania is open to online participation, too! There will be live audio and video streams, and of course live possibility to offer feedback during various discussions, Q&A sessions, and such.

Another chapter in Wikipedia's Holy Grail Quest - the stable version part probably two digits :) What is the stable version idea? Well, trying to merge two opposites: the basic idea of wiki 'anybody can edit it' with the basic criticism of wiki 'anybody can edit it' :)     The last chapter was quite enjoyable, and as often happens, was started with some journalist's misunderstanding of Wikipedia...

For those who want more coverage of Wikipedia 'grand experiment', there are two sites that should be followed at least as closely, if not more, then my posts:
* Wikipedia:Signpost " a community-written and community-edited newspaper, covering events and stories related to the English Wikipedia", published each Monday
* Wikizine, "an independent internal news bulletin for the members of the Wikimedia community"

Last but not least, I am crossposting this post with w.bloggar between the two blogs I am now involved with: my Voice of the Prokonsul and Luke's great brainchild, Digital Citizen.


Jul 10, 2006

Historian's review of Wikipedia

An excellent academic article about Wikipedia, nicely written (no 'scholarese'), by Roy Rosenzweig: "Can History Be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past" (Journal of American History 93 (1): 117-146).

It offers a great introduction to Wikipedia (something many journalists increasingly writing about Wikipedia should look at), compares Wiki to Encarta and an academic database, and discusses the role of history and historians on Wikipedia. It has many good points - on why studends use Wikipedia (and why they should not), on why academcis should contribute to Wikipedia, and many others. Excellent read!


Jun 3, 2006

Late update: assembled varia

I know I have not posted much recently. And honestly, I don't think I will go back to my good posting days soon. Don't despair - I am fine (or is that a reason to despair?). I have just been busy - with Wikipedia, with a MMORPG some friends are trying to get me addicted to, and with various aspects of real life.

For a time I thought I could transform this blog into a Wikipedia news reporting site, but after some time I realized there is little point in competing with Wikipedia:Singpost. I always believed that in numbers, there is strenght.

That said, I am sure from time to time I will stumble upon something that I want to share with others. Thanks to the progress of technology, there is already a perfect tool for tracking blog updates: news aggregators. For example, I use Bloglines. It saves you time you'd have to spend checking all those blogs for an update. Great time saver.

Talking about news aggregators, there is a new species worth nowing about. This new bunch works even with site without RSS-feed (read: it works with *any* site). I use feedwhip it to subscribe to a great webcomic I blogged about some time ago :)

Last but not least, I wanted to take this opportunity and report on a new interesting thing out there: an online non-free sciene-fiction and fantasy magazine: Jim Baen's Universe (wiki). Yeah. Non-free. And it's a good thing! I am serious. Those authors need money to live. By paying for the stuff you get REALLY good stuff: Benford, Wolfe, Drake, Flint, Ringo.... this is not 'cheap fanfiction'. This is good stuff, with pro-editors, pro-writers, pro-...well, it's good. And few bucks is not much. In addition, did you know that short story market worldwide is poor business? Bean is taking a risk with this online publication (although ebooks on average are much less risky then print publications). So if you like short stories - support Bean. You don't have to read them all now... invest for the future :)

Well, I am off. Write you... sooner or later.

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May 8, 2006

The Economist on Wikipedia

Although The Signpost is doing a great job covering Wikipedia coverage in press, I'd like to draw your attention to the recent article in The Economist: The wiki principle. It's nice to see that my favourite print media source is taking the right stand. As usually, it's a great read. See also what Wikipedians thought about it (warning: this link is going to be obsolete at some point).

As for the resons why my updates have been rare in the past month: 1) real life (end of term) 2) Wikipedia, as always 3) I finally got caught in an MMORPG...

PS. See you at Wikimania!


Mar 28, 2006

Wikipedia presentation at University of Pittsburgh

For those of you who want more than just to watch me on your screen, you have the opportunity to attend my my 1:30h presentation at the University of Pittsburgh, organized with the help of the great people from the CIDDE department.

Learning Opportunities for Faculty: Wikipedia
presented by: Piotr Konieczny, a Wikipedia administrator and Dr. Carol DeArment, CIDDE

“Wikis,” a type of website that allows users to easily add and edit content, are especially suited for collaborative authoring. The most popular wiki is Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, which is the largest encyclopedia in the world and is in the Top 20 most popular sites online. Wikis in general and Wikipedia in particular have the potential to be both research and teaching tools. This workshop will provide an introduction to wikis and the Wikipedia, and promote discussion about how they can benefit University teaching.

When and where?
Friday, April 7  Noon to 1:30 p.m.
815 Alumni Hall
Center for Instructional Development & Distance Education

To Register: Contact Michelle Lane at or call 412-383-9729.

That's the official blurb. I can promise you that I'll try to make it as useful as possible: I'll be doing lot's of live 'how to' demonstrations, and I hope that anybody leaving this presentation will be able to go online and instantly implement the tools that I will be showing. Personally I believe that wikis (and Wikipedia) are the best thing that has happened to educational system since the introduction of blackboard (lower case). They have extreme potential in reshaping the classroom, finally breaking it from the rigid framework of the industrial era, and introducing it to the new digital revolution. Blackbroad (upper case) and similar tools might have been a good start, they did little more than just another tool to an existing classroom. Wikis, among other things, allow the studends to become not just the consumers of knowledge, but to be the creators themselves - with all the increased effectivness and feeling of self-realisation that comes with that.

Power to the wikis! And see you there.

PS. Please don't bring any rotten tomatoes or eggs :)

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Mar 27, 2006

Movie advert 4 (Potop)

Polish Student Alliance
in Pittsburgh, PA

invites you to the
Movie of the week
: Potop (The Deluge) - Part One

When? March 30 (Thursday) 8:00PM-10:00PM

Where? 4130 Posvar Hall (University of Pittsburgh)

Movie genre: Historical, action, romance

Year: 1974 Duration: 315 minutes Other: Color, Polish with English subtitles
Directed by Jerzy Hoffman. Starring Daniel Olbrychski as Andrzej Kmicic, Tadeusz Łomnicki as Michał Wołodyjowski

The Deluge, a sequel to With Fire and Sword, is also based on the 19th century novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz (a 1905 Nobel Prize Winner in literature), nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar in 1974. The setting is the 17th century Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, then the largest European state. The story take place in the 17th century during the Swedish invasion and occupation, known as The Deluge, which left Poland in ruins. A historical war epic on a grand scale, with many battles and duels, excellent costumes, props and scenery recreating this forgotten setting, the end result is a picture that looks like it was beamed straight from the 17th century, and the level of realism really adds to the immersive nature of the story.

IMDb rating: 8.4/10.

To be followed:

March 16 (Ogniem i Mieczem, Part 2 of 2) (1999)

Room opens at 7:00 p.m, so if you want to practice your Polish, feel free to arrive early and talk with us!

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Mar 23, 2006

Wikipedia news: Britannica strikes back, Nature counterattacks

Three months after well-respected journal Nature published a study that claimed Wikipedia is almost as accurate as the 200-years old Encyclopædia Britannica, the Britannica dinosaur has awaken from it's slumber and has striken back: Fatally Flawed: Refuting the recent study on encyclopedic accuracy by the journal Nature (and of course their responce had to be published in a pdf...). As might have been expeted, Britannica claims that "Almost everything about the journal’s investigation, from the criteria for identifying inaccuracies to the discrepancy between the article text and its headline, was wrong and misleading." The Nature has replied declining their request to retract the article and "rejected those accusations".

The story has already made it to mainsteam media, so you can keep track of the recent developments with Google News.

See also Wikipedia Village Pump (news) discussion on this subject.

And in releated news, this should stirr the waters even further: there is a paper coming in Journal of American History, claiming that "the prose on Wikipedia is not so terrific but most of its facts are indeed correct, to a far greater extent than Wikipedia's critics would like to admit".

PS. In case you wonder, Wikipedia has corrected all the errors by late January 2006. As for Britannica... who knows? They claim to have no errors, after all. :>

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Mar 22, 2006

Watch me live on videocast!

For the first time ever, you can see me live at a videocast! On 12:00 (GMT-5) at Pitt CIDDE's videocast website as I'll be talking about wikis and wikipedias in teaching. During the videocast (which should last about 20 minutes) you can send me questions via that website. Later you can download the videocast (or mp3 audio). Enjoy!

On a related note, I think people at CIDDE are doing a tremendous good job, experimenting with new tools and providing useful instructional movies about them - online and for free. Keep up the good job!

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Mar 1, 2006

1,000,000 down, how many more to go?

Wikimedia press release: March 1, 2006 The Wikimedia Foundation announced today the creation of the 1,000,000th article in the English language edition of Wikipedia. The article is about the Jordanhill railway station in Scotland, and it was started by Wikipedia contributor Ewan Macdonald. Wikipedia is a free, multilingual, online encyclopedia with 3.3 million articles under development in more than 125 languages.

Wikipedia Signpost notes that in terms of the number of articles, the English Wikipedia will have doubled in size in slightly less than a year, after reaching 500,000 articles last 17 March.

And we have still barely scratched the surface of the humanity's knowledge. I look forward to many, many years of Wiki's growth.

Although 2 million pool is closed (I voted for 20th June 2007, and feel preety confident I should be no more then few months off), feel free to guess when we will cross the 5 million articles treshold. I think I'll take some time before voting there, but I'd expect each next million will be much easier - so 3 millions should take no more then about two years. 20th June of 2008, perhaps? :D

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Feb 25, 2006

Wiki extras, copyrights info nuggets and trivia

I found some off-wiki wiki-friendly tools that I think are definetly worth checking out.

Qwikia is a search engine that not only searches through non-en wikipedias, but trnaslates the entries. Considering that there is still a lot entries on pl wiki that I know of that are so far untranslated, I'd estimate that this nifty tool in practice increase Wiki database by a third.

WikipedizeText can imbede any text with hyperlinks to related Wiki articles. Great for any kind of online papers/assignments you have to turn in - or for blog posts :)

Some copyright/copyleft related articles:
* UK official terrifies with copyleft Firefox - how can you give your software for free and allow others to sell it? LOL.
* BBC notices some benefits of non-pernament copyrights. About time...

Also, interesting stuff happening over the net:
* Google launches it's own 'Page creator', which supposed to be a kind of WYSIWYG editor, allowing you to quickly create your own homepage.
* a guide on how to get your personalized tv station with RSS and BitTorrent. If only the media industry would embrace this concept instead of fighting it. I would be happy to ditch the cable (which I am not watching anyway, I just need the Internet...) and pay some kind of tax (or other form of payment) for the ability to use such tools legally.

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Feb 22, 2006

More Wikipedia news: The work is going on

More news from the wikiworld out there:

Wikipedia Signpost has an interview with Jimbo Wales, founder of Wikipedia
. Some of my favourite parts"

WS: Raul654 asks: "Where do you see Wikipedia in 10 years?"
JW: I don't know. My favorite answer to this is to say, the real question is: where will the world be after 10 more years of Wikipedia. :)

WS: David.Monniaux asks: "The Foundation receives daily accusations of libel from semi-well-known people who have an entry on Wikipedia or are mentioned in some Wikipedia entry. What do you propose? Would a strict application of the rule of citing controversial claims suffice, in your opinion?"

JW: Yes. I think that our current systems do a good job of addressing these sorts of complaints, although it is very time-consuming for us here in the office. What really works wonders is a very strict application of the rule of citing controversial claims particularly relating to biographies of living persons. The new policy on biographies of living persons is a very strong step in the right direction.

In related news:

China Wiki-censorships attracts media attention. Good - but China is known for caring little about western public opinion. Wonder if it will do any good.

Some people still think that their topic deserves special, some concerns raised are of course valid - but they affect many other topics. And the end effect is quality improvement. Just consider the entry on 'Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy' today and 2 weeks ago. Isn't it better? QED.

Now this is a better description of the 'propaganda wars'. And in the end, we will end up with a better article. Anybody wants to bet against me that in 2 months that article will be 1) more NPOV and detailed then today 2) more stable?

Paul Saffo: "Wikipedia is a researcher's dream". Amen to that.

And more stories on Signpost...

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Feb 16, 2006

News from Wikipedia: defamation of a Wikipedian?

The Times falsely accuses an innocent Wikipedian of being a 'saboteur': One saboteur, codenamed Thruston, changes the same sentence in Blair’s entry on an almost daily basis to accuse him of setting out to “destroy” civil service neutrality.. One can easily see that Thurston hardly edits Blair's article and that his single edition was not vandalism at all.

Most likely stemming from journalist misunderstanding that the user in question reverted vandalism, not initatied it. I wonder if they will apologize?

In other news, Wikipedia Signpost reports following stories:
* Wikipedia hits Top 25 sites
* new external peer review gives Wiki thumbs up (mostly).
* and others - check Signpost for other news!

With Wikipedia approaching the millionth aricle (975,000 now and growing at about 1,000 per day), my bet on 20th June 2006 in the Wikipedia:Million pool seems to have been two pessimistic. Me - too pessimistic. Who would've thought. If Wiki growth can suprise even me... it's a good day to live on :)

There is still time to vote in the 2 million pool though :)

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Feb 13, 2006

Movie advert 3

Polish Student Alliance
in Pittsburgh, PA

invites you to the
Movie of the week
: With Fire and Sword (Ogniem i Mieczem) (part 1)

When? February 23 (Thursday) 8:00PM-10:00PM

Where? 4130 Posvar Hall (University of Pittsburgh)

Movie genre: Historical, action, romance

Year: 1999 Duration: 175 minutes Other: Color, Polish with English subtitles
Directed by Jerzy Hoffman. Starring Izabella Scorupco and Michal Zebrowski

With Fire and Sword is based on the 19th century novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz (a 1905 Nobel Prize Winner in literature). The setting is the 17th century Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, then the largest European state, torn apart by the civil war (Chmielnicki uprising). A historical war epic on a grand scale, with many battles and duels, excellent costumes, props and scenery recreating this forgotten setting, the end result is a picture that looks like it was beamed straight from the 17th century, and the level of realism really adds to the immersive nature of the story.

To be followed:

March 16 (Ogniem i Mieczem, Part 2 of 2) (1999)

Room opens at 7:00 p.m, so if you want to practice your Polish, feel free to arrive early and talk with us!

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Feb 10, 2006

The Wikipedia Muhammad Cartoons Debate

Well, well, not only is the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy one of the most edited pages in Wiki recently (with Wikipedia founder, Jimbo Wales, even stepping in to moderate the discussion at one point), but the very Wiki article (not issue!) had been described by an Iraqi ebook: The Wikipedia Muhammad Cartoons Debate: A War Of Ideas.

See also recent Wikipedia Signpost story on this subject: Controversial cartoon leads to fierce debate.

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Feb 6, 2006

Lego - embracing the new open source culture

Gotta love Lego.

Within weeks of the original Mindstorms debut, a Stanford graduate student named Kekoa Proudfoot reverse engineered the RCX brick and posted all of his findings, including detailed information on the brick's underlying firmware, online. Several other engineers quickly used Proudfoot's revelations to design their own Mindstorms tools, including an open source operating system (LegOS) and a C-like programming alternative to RCX-code (Not Quite C, or NQC). Lego's Danish brain trust soon realized that their proprietary code was loose on the Internet and debated how best to handle the hackers. "We have a pretty eager legal team, and protecting our IP is very high on its agenda," Nipper says. Some Lego executives worried that the hackers might cannibalize the market for future Mindstorms accessories or confuse potential customers looking for authorized Lego products.

After a few months of wait-and-see, Lego concluded that limiting creativity was contrary to its mission of encouraging exploration and ingenuity. Besides, the hackers were providing a valuable service. "We came to understand that this is a great way to make the product more exciting," Nipper says. "It's a totally different business paradigm - although they don't get paid for it, they enhance the experience you can have with the basic Mindstorms set." Rather than send out cease and desist letters, Lego decided to let the modders flourish; it even wrote a "right to hack" into the Mindstorms software license, giving hobbyists explicit permission to let their imaginations run wild.

Soon, dozens of Web sites were hosting third-party programs that helped Mindstorms users build robots that Lego had never dreamed of: soda machines, blackjack dealers, even toilet scrubbers. Hardware mavens designed sensors that were far more sophisticated than the touch and light sensors included in the factory kit. More than 40 Mindstorms guidebooks provided step-by-step strategies for tweaking performance out of the kit's 727 parts.

I think there is bright future for LEGO. And a lesson for some dinosours out there. Read the original story here.

Update: Lego community has created some great resources online. Below are a few pictures of my childhood...

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Feb 3, 2006

Movie advert 2

Polish Student Alliance
in Pittsburgh, PA

invites you to the
Movie of the week
: Rejs

When? February 9th (Thursday) 7:30PM-9:00PM

Where? 4130 Posvar Hall (University of Pittsburgh)

Movie genre: Comedy

Year: 1970 Duration: 1 hour, 0 minutes Other: Black&white, Polish with English subtitles
Directed by Marek Piwowski. Starring Stanislaw Tym.

Rejs (The Cruise) is the mother of all cult films in Polish cinematography. Shot in a quasi-documentary style, with a cast featuring few professional actors, it is a perfect parody of the People's Republic of Poland, reducing a weekend river cruise to a hilarious parody of the entire communist system.

A stowaway (Stanisław Tym) sneaks aboard a ship departing on a cruise down the Vistula River. The captain takes him for a Communist Party cultural coordinator (KO) and the intruder gladly adapts to his new role, immediately setting to work at manipulating the passengers and crew into silly and vaguely humiliating games. Before long, Tym has got everyone under his thumb and created his own comedic dictatorship.

To be followed:

February 23 (Ogniem i Mieczem, Part 1 of 2) (1999)

March 16 (Ogniem i Mieczem, Part 2 of 2) (1999)

Room opens at 7:00 p.m, so if you want to practice your Polish, feel free to arrive early and talk with us!


Singularity update

From epaper to hibernation, new breakthroughs are paving the way towards the Singularity. This amusing piece about Google future may not be that far from reality, actually...


Jan 30, 2006

Wikipedia vs US Congress

Wikipedia does not tolerante 'vandalism' or 'POV pushing', no matter where it comes from. Apparently, some people with IP address tracing back to US Congress have been engaging in just that - and it has gotten serious enough for Wikipedia community to implement one of the middle steps of the dispute resolution process, known as the Request for Comments. Earlier steps include normal taking and mediation, and the only step left after failed RfC (which is not binding) is the binding ruling by Wikipedia Arbitrators (during the process known as Request for Arbitration).

From Wikipedia page:
I am opening this RFC in order to centralise discussion concerning actions to be taken against US Congressional staffers who repeatedly engage in revert wars, blank content, engage in libelous behaviour or violate WP:NPOV, WP:CIV. The editors from these IP ranges are rude and abrasive, immature, and show no understanding of Wikipedia policy. The editors also frequently try to whitewash the actions of certain politicians. They treat Wikipedia articles about politicians as though they own the articles, replacing community articles with their own sanctioned biographies and engaging in revert wars when other users dispute this sudden change. They also violate Wikipedia:Verifiability, by deleting verified reports, while adding flattering things about members of Congress that are unverified.

The editors are currently blocked, but only for a week, so I feel this RFC is needed for the community to comment. I feel that a 1 week block is not enough.

It will be interesting to see if mainstream media picks that up.

Update: It did. Most of the Google News: Wikipedia stories are about this (note: link relevancy subject to change in few days).
See also this Wikinews story.

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Jan 20, 2006

Wiki news: the Tron chapter

It figures. I get a little bit behind on current happenings, and an interesting story has to pass me by :)

German Wikipedia was shut down for a few days by German court: big thumbs down for Germany, apparently joining China in an attempt to silence the reality (if only for a three days). Although it's nice to see that the judges had enough wit to lift the shut down orders, it should have never been issued in the first place. Let's hope this never again happens: imagine if just suing about some detail could couse a Wiki to be shut down.

If the parents of the deceased hacker 'Tron' wanted to keep the low-down status, they should've known better then to go against Wikipedia. The English wiki was never affected, as it is not a subject to any German verdict anyway, and the news buzz (and blog buzz) generated by their actions surely will have an opposite effect to what they wanted. For other interesting indicators, note that the page did not even exist on en-wiki before the shut down of de-wiki.

Wikipedia Signpost has it's own story on that, of course. Note it already has cost us at least 500 euro to deal with this... well, legal vandlism, I guess. It's really annoying to see that money donated by people of good will around the world has to be spent on such trivial issues. Update: as has been pointed out in the comments (tnx!), the 500 euro is a bail amount, thus refundable. Other costs are presently unknown AFAICT.

Conclusion: if you want to gain fame, try to be anonymous by acting as the elephant in the porcelain shop (that's a Polish proverb, btw).

On a related note, I wish I could read German.

Also, Wikipedia Signpost has an interestign article on constructive reactions to being slandered on Wiki.

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Wikibook special: the Lessig edition

I've learned recently that Lawrence Lessig, the Creative Commons champion, is engaging in yet another experiment: he is working on an update of his book (Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace), but instead of doing it alone - he has created a wiki (Code V.2) to recruit helpers.

A great idea, if anybody wants my opinion :)

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Movie advert

Polish Student Alliance
in Pittsburgh, PA

invites you to the
Movie of the week
: Seksmisja

When? January 26th 7:30PM-9:30PM

Where? 4130 Posvar Hall

Movie genre: Sci-fi, comedy

Year: 1984 Duration: 2 hours, 0 minutes Other: Color, Polish with English subtitles
Directed by Juliusz Machulski Starring Jerzy Stuhr, Olgierd Łukaszewicz, Beata Tyszkiewicz

A cult Polish production
The two main characters, Maks and Albert, played by Jerzy Stuhr and Olgierd Łukasiewicz, respectively, submit themselves to the first human hibernation experiment. Instead of being awakened after a few years, they wake up in the 21st century, in a post-nuclear world, where all humans have retreated to underground living facilities, and, what's most important, where men had died out as a result of subjection to a specific kind of radiation.

To be followed:

February 9 Rejs (1970)
February 23 (Ogniem i Mieczem, Part 1 of 2) (1999)

March 16 (Ogniem i Mieczem, Part 2 of 2) (1999)

Room opens at 7:00 p.m, so if you want to practice your Polish, feel free to arrive early and talk with us!


Jan 19, 2006

Jan 17, 2006

The AMV War

According to Lessig, the copyright hounds may be preparing for a new war, and their target are AMV (anime music videos). Lessig is optimistic that we will win - I hope so. Kudos to the AMV community, and to their defenders!

And if you haven't seen some, what are you still waiting for?

On a related note, reading Lessig's article on AMVs in FT I found this staggering sstatistic: According to a recent Pew study, almost 60 per cent of US teenagers have created and shared content on the internet. Now, in an excellent class I attended last term (Digital Governance, University of Pittsburgh, dr Stuart Shulman) I learned that only 4% of net users actually contribute the content. But if 60% of the new generation do it... can you imagine the consequences?

It will be BIG. And my mood just got much better :)

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