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The Internet

The Role of Experts In Wikipedia 266

Hugh Pickens writes "Episteme, a magazine about the social dimensions of knowledge, has a special issue on the epistemology of mass collaboration, with many of the articles focusing on Wikipedia. One of the most interesting articles is by Lawrence M. Sanger on the special role of experts in the age of Wikipedia. Sanger says the main reason that Wikipedia's articles are as good as they are is that they are edited by knowledgeable people to whom deference is paid, although voluntarily, but that some articles suffer precisely because there are so many aggressive people who 'guard' articles and drive off others (PDF), including people more expert than they are. 'Without granting experts any authority to overrule such people, there is no reason to think that Wikipedia'a articles are on a vector toward continual improvement,' writes Sanger. Wikipedia's success cannot be explained by its radical egalitarianism or its rejection of expert involvement, but instead by its freedom, openness, and bottom-up management and there is no doubt that many experts would, if left to their own devices, dismantle the openness that drives the success of Wikipedia. 'But the failure to take seriously the suggestion of any role of experts can only be considered a failure of imagination,' writes Sanger. 'One need only ask what an open, bottom-up system with a role for expert decision-making would be like.' The rest of the articles on the epistemology of mass collaboration are available online, free for now." Sanger was one of the founders of Wikipedia, and of its failed predecessor Nupedia, who left the fold because of differences over the question of the proper role of experts. Sanger forked Wikipedia to found Citizendium, which we have discussed on several occasions. After 2-1/2 years, Citizendium has a few tenths of a percent as many articles as Wikipedia.
Image

Giant Shoe Honors Journalist Who Targeted Bush Screenshot-sm 60

A town in Iraq has unveiled a giant monument in honor of the journalist who threw his shoe at former US President George W. Bush. The statue, unveiled in former dictator Saddam Hussein's home town of Tikrit, depicts a bronze-colored shoe, filled with a plastic shrub. Fatin Abdul Qader, head of an orphanage and children's organization in the town, said the one-and-a-half-ton monument by artist Laith al-Amiri was titled "statue of glory and generosity." This statue is the least expression of our appreciation for Muntazer al-Zaidi, because Iraqi hearts were comforted by his throw." Mission accomplished.
Security

Building a Better CAPTCHA 197

jcatcw writes "Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols reports that CAPTCHA cracking isn't that difficult these days. It has even become a business. For example, DeCaptcher.com will solve CAPTCHAs for your spamming needs at a rate of $2 per 1,000 successfully cracked CAPTCHAs. In response, newer systems are in development. Both Carnegie Mellon and Penn State (is there something about the water in PA?) are working on image-based systems. ESP-PIX and SQ-PIX both require the viewer to interpret pictures. Imagination CAPTCHA from Penn has the user find the center of an image. The idea is that humans are better at image recognition that computers, but humans can legitimately disagree on their interpretations and some humans are color blind. Problems remain. For now, sites would be well advised to look at reCAPTCHA — the system that works with Google Books and the Internet Archive to digitize printed texts — which comes with a wide variety of application and programming plug-ins and an open API."
Communications

Obama Staffers Followed Palin's Email Lead On Inauguration Day 407

theodp writes "Using Yahoo's free e-mail service to conduct government business was good enough for Sarah Palin. And now the Washington Times reports that Obama staffers turned to Gmail on Inauguration Day to conduct their business. Those wishing to contact members of the incoming Obama administration were instructed to contact staffers at wh.LASTNAME@gmail.com until official White House e-mail addresses became available."
Government

Barack Obama Sworn In As 44th President of the US 1656

Just before noon today, Eastern time, Barack Obama was sworn in before the US Capitol building as the 44th President of the United States (Whitehouse.gov has already been updated to reflect the new President), and offered an inaugural address which outlined some of the challenges that the country currently faces, both within the country's borders and abroad. Obama's election has been called "a civil rights triumph," and his candidacy has inspired perhaps the most visible political involvement of young voters of any candidate since John Kennedy. Here's your chance to discuss the newest occupant of the White House and what you'd like to see happen over the course of his presidency.
Books

Tech Publisher O'Reilly Slashes Jobs 207

An anonymous reader writes "According to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, geeky tech publisher O'Reilly Media has slashed 14% of its workforce, or 31 people. Founder and tech pundit Tim O'Reilly comments on the layoffs by exhorting people to 'get more with less.' According to the article, 'Just this week... both tech giant Google and book retailer Barnes & Noble announced their first layoffs ever. Other publishing houses, including HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Random House, and Simon & Schuster have frozen salaries or cut jobs, or both.'"
Media

Windows 7's Media Hype Having the Opposite Effect As Vista's 864

Death Metal Maniac tips an Ars Technica piece suggesting that the media's coverage of Vista's flaws portrayed the operating system as worse than it was, and, if early reports on Windows 7 are any indication, positive hype will create the opposite reaction this time around. Quoting: "... the problem is exaggeration; ... bloggers and journalists alike use their personal experiences to prove their point in their writing. The blame doesn't solely lie with us, as Vista was by no means perfect, but we did manage to amplify the problems beyond reason. And if the beta is anything to go by, Windows 7 is going to fly. This is, by far, the best beta operating system the software giant has ever released. The media has locked on to this, and is using exaggeration already, before Windows 7 is even ready for prime time." Apparently a decent beta can succeed where $300 million and Jerry Seinfeld failed.
Bug

Ubuntu's Laptop Killing Bug Fixed 271

jeevesbond writes "Back in October of 2007 we discussed a bug that would dramatically shorten the life of laptops using Ubuntu. Ubuntu users will be glad to know that a fix has finally been released for Ubuntu versions 9.04, 8.10 and 8.04 (LTS). However, as this fix is not yet in the update repositories, anyone wishing to test it should follow these instructions for enabling the 'proposed' repository. Report your results on the original bug report. Happy testing!"
Bug

Hope For Fixing Longstanding Linux I/O Wait Bug 180

DaGoodBoy writes "There has been a long standing performance bug in Linux since 2.6.18 that has been responsible for lagging interactivity and poor system performance across all architectures. It has been notoriously difficult to qualify and isolate, but in the last few days someone has finally gotten a repeatable test case! Turns out the problem may not even be disk related, since the test case triggers the bug only by transferring data either between two processes or threads. The test results are very revealing. The developer ran regressions all the way back to version 2.6.15 that demonstrate this bug has more than doubled the time to run the test in 2.6.28. Many, many people working at improving the desktop performance of Linux will be very happy to see this bug die. I know that I, personally, will find a way to send the guy that found this test case his beverage of choice in thanks. Please spread the word and bring some attention to this issue so we can get it fixed!"
Sci-Fi

Ricardo Montalban Dead At 88 280

DesScorp writes "Ricardo Montalban, immortalized as Khan in the Star Trek franchise, is dead at age 88, passing at his Los Angeles home. Montalban had a long and successful career on television and film. The voice of Rich Corinthian Leather is silenced, but we still have the memories."
Debian

Ubuntu 9.04 Daily Build Boots In 21.4 Seconds 654

Pizzutz writes "Softpedia reports that Ubuntu 9.04 Boots in 21.4 Seconds using the current daily build and the newly supported EXT4 file system. From the article: 'There are only two days left until the third Alpha version of the upcoming Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope) will be available (for testing), and... we couldn't resist the temptation to take the current daily build for a test drive, before our usual screenshot tour, and taste the "sweetness" of that evolutionary EXT4 Linux filesystem. Announced on Christmas Eve, the EXT4 filesystem is now declared stable and it is distributed with version 2.6.28 of the Linux kernel and later. However, the good news is that the EXT4 filesystem was implemented in the upcoming Ubuntu 9.04 Alpha 3 a couple of days ago and it will be available in the Ubuntu Installer, if you choose manual partitioning.' I guess it's finally time to reformat my /home partition..."
Government

US Senate & House Create YouTube Channels 199

eldavojohn writes "Following an election in which online videos played an important role, the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate have opened YouTube channels (or 'hubs') advertised to be a 'backstage pass to your government.' Ideally this will bring transparency to citizens and inform them of their senators' & representatives' positions and ideas."
Medicine

3 Cups of Coffee Increases Hallucinations 628

PearsSoap writes "The Telegraph and other sources are pointing out a study on 200 students which has found that a high caffeine intake can cause visual and auditory hallucinations, and can make people think that others are 'out to get them.' The abstract (and full version if you have access) is available. 'The volunteers were questioned about their caffeine intake from products including coffee, tea, energy drinks, chocolate bars and caffeine tablets.'"

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