Apr 28, 2009

Google Library and Commons

I've just discovered that Google now allows you to save public domain books into your library. What good are public domain books for Commons, you may ask? Well, in addition to being interesting historical documents, public domain books, by default, are full of public domain images. In other words: Google Books project does not only collect text, but alongside, quietly, it is collecting a vast amount of old illustrations, photos, maps and such. Examples:

[Please note, those images may not be available in full view to users outside of the United States - reason] (PS. And indeed now that I am in Poland I am seeing junk...)

I've saved a few dozens old Polish books into my library, most of them have at least several old illustrations, photos, or maps. I have no idea when I'll have time to move them to Commons, but I wonder if we should create a dedicated project that would catalogue useful books (those that have media) and report on the progress of their assimilation?

It appears Google have scanned lot of duplicates of the same book; they don't seem to have any mechanism on reporting duplicates, and their reports on damaged pages seem somewhat buggy, too. Still, for a free service, it's a great tool!

Some useful tips for working with images from Google Print:
* you can switch to html mode while browsing a public domain book (small link somewhere to the right and middle of a page) and save the resulting image as a jpeg

PS. Surfing the web, I discovered this excellent blog ("Inside Google Book Search") devoted to Google Book Search; note the use of images from Google Book public domain books.

Apr 20, 2009

Some interesting studies on Wikipedia

Wikipedia's coverage and conflicts quantified: this important study tells us which topics are best covered in Wikipedia, and also, which topics generate most conflict.

What's really interesting is the that "philosophy" and "religion" have generated 28% of the conflicts each. This is despite the fact that they were only 1% and 2%.

Preliminary results from the UNU merit survey: Preliminary results from the General User Survey of 2008 are available.

What I found quite interesting, in addition to the (expected but still not fully understood) the great disproportion in terms of gender among contributors, was the low rate of responders from Poland (around ~15 place, and only tenth as much as those from Germany) when compared to the fact that Polish Wikipedia is the 4th largest. The researchers are somewhat surprised at the rates of response from various countries; they have for example excluded the responses from Russian Wikipedia, which were the second most numerous group (Russian Wikipeda is the 10th most largest).
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Voice of the Prokonsul by Piotr Konieczny is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.