Monday, November 26, 2007

Wiktionary upset

When I look at the Wiktionary website at the moment, it does not show yet that the French language Wiktionary has more articles then the English language Wiktionary. I think it is absolutely wonderful because if anything it shows that you should not take things for granted in Wikis.

Not taking things for granted is a healthy attitude. There is an inherent bias against the French language Wiktionary in the Alexa numbers. However, I am impressed by the numbers quoted.

All the bigger Wiktionary projects have used bots to build up their content. I can imagine that a healthy rivalry will make the numbers go even higher, this would benefit the users of Wiktionary because I trust the Wiktionary communities to watch the quality of the content :)


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pride in a language

Many people feel strongly about their culture, their language. What I find special are the people that go the extra mile to promote their language. It is therefore that I am grateful when I notice languages like Spanish, Georgian, Breton and now Eastern Yiddish having a champion that make a difference.

It is especially interesting to see how with an ever increasing amount of terminology, the information becomes rich. Rich both for the people who are interesting in learning the language and also for the people that want to learn other languages starting from these languages.

I am grateful when people find in OmegaWiki a tool that helps to document and service their language. It is an imperfect tool but its redeeming quality is that it is getting better as we go along.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thank you Mycom

Today started horribly; my Skype was not working and my headset was to blame. I could not call using skype so I had to use my plain old telephone to call abroad :( I then tested my system and it was indicated that my microphone was not working. I went to my computer supplier and, I was told that my headset came with a two year warranty !!

I got home and it was still not working. So I played with my configuration and I could not get it to work. So I went again to my computer supplier Mycom and we fiddled with all kinds of values. For whatever reason we got it to work but we were not able to pinpoint what the issue was. I think that it may have to do with an upgrade of the Skype software that I did the other day but I am not sure. In the end, the friendly service I got was the highlight of the day :)


Friday, November 16, 2007

69 page document in SignWriting

I received an e-mail that mentions a 69 page document is SignWriting. At this moment a document in SignWriting is still considered to be exceptionally large. It does prove that people are able to write documents in their sign language that are this big. As more texts are written it will be not be special much longer.

The reason for me to mention it is that it indicates that SignWriting is stepping over a threshold. It is enabling American Sign Language to be a literary language. This is another step closer to the realisation of a Wikipedia for ASL.



Tuvin is a language spoken in Russia, China and Mongolia. There is a wikipedia project on the Incubator that is dormant. What is exciting is that there is activity to localise MediaWiki in the Tuvin language.

On the Tyawiki there is a MediaWiki installation that aims to create a repository about Tyva. Withthe localisation of Tuvin in MediaWiki, they will be able to do a much better job.

I welcome this first localisation effort I am aware of that is driven from outside the Wikimedia Foundation. It demonstrates how MediaWiki is getting recognition for the outstanding software it is.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Flags for languages

I got into a discussion about what flag should be shown for a particular language. There were two groups of people one side was in favour of a historical faction and the other was in favour of another historical faction. The argument was quite heated. At some stage I asked what the flag for English should be ...

Languages are spoken on both sides of a border. Languages are spoken by people who do not recognise countries or flags. Languages are separate from nationhood. Consequently it is in my honest opinion wrong to associate languages with flags. There are no obvious symbols for languages and for many languages they would share the same flag. OmegaWiki is not likely to ever associate a language with a flag.



On Alexa, OmegaWiki has for the first time gone through the 100.000 traffic rank. This number gives in Alexa better graphics so it is really welcome news. The daily rank of 99.813 is extraordinarily compared with our three monthly rank of 485.925. It however indicates that something is working in our favour or maybe we are doing something right.

When you compare the OmegaWiki statistics with the Wiktionary stats they are doing really great. With a daily rank of 1.601 it is time for the Wikimedia Foundation to demonstrate that they have a valuable resource in Wiktionary :)


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Political science

With some dismay I read this article on the BBC-website. It is about science and the cost of science. It is said that there should be better planning so that ahead of time it is clear how much a given project will cost. This should mean that "the wider scientific community and industry should contribute to the decision-making process".

Effectively the right honourable gentlemen is looking for a reduction in the cost of science by increasing the involvement of even more people to select and manage scientific projects. Effectively this will lead to less money for doing science. Effectively it will not be the scientists who select the projects that are considered to be of scientific value.

The dismay I feel is because it is likely to lead to more yet "politically correct" science. Science that has more to do with what the expedient results should be and not with scientifically relevance. When you consider the huge amounts of administrative and other overhead it is a wonder that scientific research is still practised.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

When is a project alive

A month ago I blogged about dbpedia. Dbpedia is very much alive. I have had a look at it and like what they do. I subscribed to their mailing list and again, dbpedia is very much an active project. As always there are things I do not like; their ideas on copyright and licenses are defensive and as a consequence overly restrictive. It prevents cooperation in stead of fostering cooperation.

Today, an anonymous person replied to this blog entry. The suggestion is made to cooperate with the SWAD Europe group. They have a website, a blog but it all stopped in 2004. So I am wondering about all these projects, all this effort that just stops. Projects that may be valuable and given that people promote it in 2007, may still be alive. For me there is no way of knowing.

I have an idea how I would use semantic data in OmegaWiki. What I am not so sure about is how semantic web applications would use OmegaWiki data. In essence OmegaWiki is multi-lingual and exporting it in anything but a machine readable version only, would strip what I think is valuable in OmegaWiki.

Collaborating with for instance a SWAD Europe group makes sense. People can suggest cooperation, it should however be a two way street. Just pointing that there are others does not help me much.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Congratulations OLPC

I was happy to read this..

The World Language Documentation blog

It is with pleasure that I inform you that the World language Documentation Centre has a blog. As the WLDC is ambitious in what it wants to achieve, and as many of these objectives will take time, it is great that there is a blog where the board members of the WLDC can publish about they find of relevance.

I hope that the many members of the WLDC board will find the time to blog because this will help you appreciate the amazing qualities that you find in these people. As I have the privilege to be on this board as well, some of the subjects that I have written about in the past will now be covered on the WLDC blog ..

I hope you will find the WLDC blog of interest to follow it in your RSS reader.. :)


Sunday, November 04, 2007


"A speech disorder in which the flow of speech is disrupted by involuntary repetitions and prolongations of sounds, syllables, words or phrases, and involuntary silent pauses or blocks in which the stutterer is unable to produce sounds". This is as I have always understood stuttering or stammering as the Brits have it.

With great surprise I learned that stuttering also occurs in sign languages. I learned this from a mailing list that deals with sign languages and SignWriting. The implications are quite profound. It means that stuttering is not necessarily a speech disorder and consequently when it is not, speech therapy does not work.

This similarity in the problems between signed and spoken languages indicate that the format of communication is incidental. The same mechanisms are at play and therefore one is as good as the other. To me this seems obvious many people rate their own method of communication as superior. The spoken language is superior for when communication with me as I am dumb when it comes to signed languages...


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Who is Frank Thompson, and why include them in Wikipedia

Frank Thompson features on the "List of mayors of Yarra". He is "blue linked" so there must be an article on him right? Clicking on the link gets me Frank Thompson who was a member of the house of Representatives. It is more or less easy to fix and I am sure that someone will.

For me it is interesting to see how Wikipedia deals with what is considered relevant. To me these people are irrelevant, both misters Thompson are no longer in office. But they are deemed to be noteworthy enough to link to where might be an article.

In a similar way there are articles about pop stars who had a single hit in 1962, there are articles about wide receivers that only played one season.. There is a lot of information that is of no importance and that is fine.

What astounds me is that when an article is written in the German and the English Wikipedia about Kotava, a constructed language, it is speedily deleted. When it is then indicated that this language is on route to be recognised in the ISO-639-3 code, the comment is speedy deleted. The article that was deleted was more then a stub, it cited sources and I did not write it.

I would love to understand why a mayor of Yarra, a 1962 pop star or a 1956 wide receiver are "relevant" and a language like Kotava is not.