Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blame the foreigner, blame the victim

Like many other countries, the Netherlands is governed by a religious and right wing government. In the Netherlands traditionally there is no party in overall control. The current government is in power because a xenophobic party will not vote the existing minority home.

The Christian party, nominally a party entertaining Christian values let it be known that it understands the fear of the foreigner and, that this sentiment should not be left only to the populist parties... By declaring their solidarity against Islam, they destroy their reason for being; the existence of special rights for religious practice, for their religious practice.

Yesterday we learned about this Christian message, it was probably meant to counteract the growing sense of unease in the practice of Christian values. Today there are massive demonstrations against the cuts in the psychiatric care. Such care is often needed to treat the refugees who fled their country for the abuse they suffered. Such care rehabilitates people and these people in turn take their place among the best and the brightest in the Netherlands.

Providing care to those who need it is a value that is part of any religion. By providing care to those who need it a good man distinguishes himself, never mind if he is religious. But when you claim to be religious, it must be problematic that the ultimate reckoning is not in this life.

#Plural for the #Toolserver

We are used to the support for the plural form in #MediaWiki. Without plural support the localisers at do ask questions.

Learning that Jan Luca has written plural functionality for the Toolserver I18N-framework is therefore very welcome news. It is not yet in production because he wants a second pair of eyes. Krinkle has given the code a first glance over and he promised to have a good look this weekend.

With better internationalisation support, it becomes increasingly worthwhile to make Toolserver tools ready for the international audience that is our Wikimedia community.

In defence of social networks II

The majority of our #Wikimedia contributors contribute in more then one language and on more then one project. The approach to our projects however is isolationist. Every project is separate and there is not much that helps the cooperation between projects. There is no way that you can reliably get the attention of a wikimedian.

At this stage I have 491 users on 491 projects consequently I have to state 491 times that I am male, what my time zone is, my preferences for editing ... There are 491 user pages for me and having something sensible on them, something that is of interest is just too much effort.

Now consider that in stead of 491 user pages, there is only one user page. It has pertinent information about me that may be relevant to the communities of all the 491 projects. Something like my information on

Now consider that an e-mail is to be send to all the localisers who localise MediaWiki from English into Dutch ... Or how about an invitation to all the people who speak Lingala to participate in an interview about their issues with editing Wikipedia.

At this time we cannot because our perspective is very much the perspective of the single project. We just found out that the majority of us is multilingual and edits in multiple languages. The social reality is that our editors can be found everywhere. We do not make it easy for them to coordinate things.

We need social network functionality because we need the social coherence that goes with a community that is all over the place.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

In defence of social networks

A social network is not defined by #Facebook, #IRC or #Twitter. At best these are quite diverse examples of social networks. When you consider these examples, they have attributes that are functional to the extend that they are all widely used by Wikimedians.

When people then say that social networks have nothing to contribute to the daily practice of working on one of the Wikimedia projects they are absolutely wrong. They do not know the facts or their idea of what we do and how we do it is severely flawed.

Wikipedia is a crowd sourced encyclopaedia. All the time new websites and wikis pop up in order to provide visibility to a project; to crowd source something new. There is a website like because the Wikimedia Foundation does not offer social network functionality. And yes, they reach out to Facebook and Twitter as well.

The arguments used against social network functionality for Wikimedia are missing the point. We are doing badly as a social entity because we do not support the groups who are active working together ourselves.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Bulaq #typeface

When you print an #Arabic text, there are considerations that go beyond does it have all the required characters. It may have to look good, respectful, pretty... Such considerations become practical in the layout of a page and the use of a typeface.

The reduced Bulaq typeface, casted in 1950 to simplify the original, 1910, typeface, cuts it from 470 to 238 glyphs (not counting vowel marks).

The first of the Bulaq typefaces was developed in Italy and was not met with universal approval. It took considerable time and effort to come to something that met general approval. The aim was to achieve maximum readability and to simplify the number and composing rules while retaining the beauty of Arabic calligraphy.

What this history teaches us that just having a typeface or a font allows printing or displaying a text. It does not mean that it will do a  script justice, for that you need research and someone who has mastered the art of font design.
      GerardM does #Semantic #MediaWiki

When you look at the bottom of any page of, it says "Powered by Semantic MediaWiki". It means that not only is where you can localise Semantic MediaWiki, it is also a place where semantic web approaches can be used in earnest.

As is a production environment, I do not feel comfortable to start experimenting wildly. It is however one of the more visible and strategic places for Semantic MediaWiki to pop up.

It is the closest you get to the real thing; implementation on Wikipedia itself. So my obvious question is: what should we do semantically on translatewiki. Who will provide us with the ideas that will show off the brilliant functionality that has now become a possibility?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Promoting #Malaysia on #Wikipedia

A story at #Slashdot has it that for six #Facebook pages an astounding $600,000.- was spend by the government of Malaysia. Only six pages... and it will be interesting to learn how they will get sufficient interest for what they have to say on only six pages.

Spending a similar amount of money wisely to promote Malaysia on Wikipedia will not only have a measurable impact the impact will be sustained over a long time.

I am sure the Malaysian government already has a wealth of pictures about Malaysia, not only the pictures that may draw tourists to Malaysia but also the historic pictures, the film footage and material from archives and museums. All this can be made available without spending much money.

When Malaysia would be determined to spend $600K, it could have a photo competition about its land marks, its nature, its monuments. At the same time it could have a competition having people write Wikipedia articles in its many languages.

It would work and we can provide the statistics that prove it.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

#Kiwix is preparing for

At the Berlin hackathon,we talked with the Kiwix developer and he indicated that making Kiwix ready for localisation at is one of his priorities.

As it one of those jobs that just does not go away, it is at some stage easier to give it a whirl. The good news is that a first iteration has found its way to translatewiki.

It is now a matter of making sure that new messages and localisations can find its way to and from Kiwix before the translatewiki community can work its magic.

More news when we have it :)

Moving collections on #Flickr to #Commons

The Museum of Photographic Arts is bringing much of its collections to Flickr. As this collection consists of material that is in the public domain, this news resulted in a flurry of mails asking for bots to get into action.

When the bots get into action, they can move all this material to Commons. This has been done before and, it is one of the better examples of how material that should be freely available finds its way into general use.

Moving this material to Commons, making yet another GLAM project page is one way of demonstrating the added value of our projects. Not only this, it is a perfect way of introducing ourselves to what hopefully becomes a new GLAM partner. MOPA is after all not about photographs..

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Non-Roman character set localization

From a localisation point of view, the least of our worries are the character sets. The person who works on the localisation of software has the ability to read and write his language and consequently the associated character set. The problem with character sets are the readers and writers who have problems with displaying the characters we present to them.

To make this situation even more poignant, character set problems exist for the Roman character set as well. On this blog you may have read about problems with languages like Romanian and Lingala. These languages are written in the Roman character set.

As the Wikimedia Foundation has it on its Non-Roman character set localization page, there is a need for a toolset that supports character sets, fonts and input methods. We are really fortunate that such a toolset exists.

These tools are not created for the Roman character set, but they will be equally effective. They are Narayam. a tool that provides input methods and WebFonts a tool that provides fonts on those devices that are smart enough.

These tools provide functionality in their current incarnation that is basic and essential. Both tools can be improved upon as they can be perfected with increased usability and functionality. However, perfection is the enemy of the good when we are to wait for this. With this basic functionality in place, we can build a vast array of input methods for many languages, we can work to complete or create freely licensed fonts. We will even make a visual and obvious case to the manufacturers of devices that they need to provide web fonts when they are to sell in markets where fonts are an issue.

Why libraries

A #library is not only the place where you can borrow a book to read at your leisure. It is also a place where many children work on their homework, where people come to read their newspaper, a place where you can read the sources of interesting Wikipedia articles.

A library is also a place where parents bring their children to look for their next bedtime reading stories. It is where the love for language, for the written word is formed. When kids have free access to everything that makes a library, it is a place where kids will frequent during their formative years and where they will bring their kids for their bedtime reading stories as well.

For this to work, you need the libraries. The buildings where a friendly librarian helps people find their way to relevant information. In this day and age where e-books are increasingly popular, the rationale for a library as the place for books seems obsolete. However, all these other aspects of libraries are the real reason for libraries.

Let us hope that the library will be allowed to morph and remain the place where the love for the written word can be found by our future generations.

Monday, June 13, 2011

#SignWriting goes #Unicode

One handicap for the many, many sign languages is that the symbols are not defined in Unicode. This effectively precludes all the sign languages in the world from having their Wikipedia. As a consequence all the modern software will not be able to be used for text in SignWriting, the only script that makes it practical to write a sign language.

Michael Everson has produced a proposal for the inclusion of SignWriting in Unicode. Have a read and, you will learn the complexity that comes with a proposal for the inclusion of a script like SignWriting in Unicode.

You will also read that this project was financed by the Center For Sutton Movement Writing.. that is to say by Valerie Sutton herself. If any of the chapters are looking for deserving projects they can fund this is one. This will benefit all the sign languages in the world. The list in the PDF of sign languages that are already written in SignWriting is impressively long.

The story of the #Netherlands

The Netherlands has a rich cultural heritage, there are many buildings, museums, archives that show how the Netherlands changed over time. Buildings, waterworks, the documents, the paintings they represent the stories, the history of the Netherlands.

These stories need to be told and, told again. This is how an cultural awareness evolves. In this day and age, the Internet is the medium for telling stories. "Erfgoed Nederland" or Dutch Heritage has been the organisation who helped the Dutch GLAM get their message out.

As the global economy and the Dutch economy is making a turn for the worst, it has been announced that there will be no more money for telling our stories from 2013. This will isolate the Dutch museums, archives and libraries, it will become even harder to tell our story. The benefit of shared resources will disappear. Our cultural heritage will be marginalised and in this way becomes a target for further cutbacks.

The Dutch chapter has been really happy with its cooperation with Erfgoed Nederland. It will want to come up with a plan to make sure that the stories will still be told.

#WMFboard; the election is done

The #Wikimedia board election is done and, we have something of a scandal. In essence it is about politics. When our politics was about constituencies, it would have been fine. When our politics is about particular points of view it would be fine.

It is something of a surprise as our projects are embodied by our "Neutral Point of View" that the notions of a need for a "Catalan Point of View" even makes the rounds.

From "My Point of View", the Catalan Wikipedia is doing fine. Its localisation is under control, it gets a fair amount of traffic with an annual growth of 53%. It operates on a level playing field with English. There is not much special that needs to be done for the Catalan language to prosper in our projects.

When you compare this with languages without a level playing field, then it should be obvious where our attention should go. Where our attention will have a serious impact. Our attention is much better served in India, where attention for fonts and input methods will unlock our projects to languages like Hindi, Oriya. When we do the same for the Myanmar language we will make a difference that goes way beyond our projects.

I was amazed and saddened by the Catalan hoopla, it is not necessary and it is not the kind of politics that are appropriate; when elected you become a trustee. As a trustee you are responsible for all projects, all languages. The trustees are entrusted with the well being and the future of all our communities.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A #Wikisource CD in #Malayalam

It is now reasonably well known that the Malayalam Wikisource community has produced a CD with a rich source of text in Malayalam. It is not only the richest source so far, it is a rich resource for a population where the majority does not have constant on Internet. 

One thing that did not get the attention it deserves, is the artwork for the CD. It is beautiful. A nice cover and a sticker for on the CD.

When you are interested to look at the content of the CD, you can look here for an impression of the CD.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

#WMFboard; interview with GerardM

Milos wanted a debate and in stead he got ten questions. I was very pleased with the answers he provided and I am positively delighted with the questions he put in front of me. I hope you like my answers as well.

You are known as a person who cares about languages. You are a member of Language committee. If elected, what would you do in relation to them?
I will continue to care for languages and I will remain a member of the Language Committee. At most I will refrain from voting when LC issues are considered at the board.

What should be the priorities of Wikimedia Foundation by your opinion?
The primary goal is to work toward the realisation of its aim; bringing the sum of all knowledge to the people of the world. To realise this, we will need to continually find people who are willing to share our dream.

What is your position toward strategic focus on developing countries?
Look at the effect our existing attention has on India, it strengthens the Indian communities that are already vibrant in places. Focussing on what is already there, strengthening it with focussed attention will work wonders. 

What should WMF do in relation to underdeveloped countries, where Internet access and even electricity are significant problems?
It is a fallacy to think that in underdeveloped countries everybody is suffering. As the situation in many countries is improving markedly anyway, we should concentrate on the people who do have Internet access; they will write the articles in the languages that matter in their country. From their work it becomes possible for them to produce books, CD-s for the people who lack the access we wish them to have.

By your opinion, what should be the path of MediaWiki development?
Cooperation is what drives our activities, including social functionality that helps drive cooperation is important. The current drive towards WYSIWYG editing will make MediaWiki more like what people are used to. Many aspects of social software we already have in IRC, and in communities in LinkedIn or Facebook. When such functionality becomes part of MediaWiki, cooperation is made more easy and obvious.

How can we preserve knowledge gathered on Wikimedia projects for the future generations?
The basics are already done at the Internet Archive. Making sure that we will be there next year is the second layer of defence, this is why we have our annual fundraiser.

What we accumulate in our projects is information; when people read it and understand it it becomes knowledge. It is for this reason that clear, uncluttered language is essential to attract future generations to what is already on offer in our projects.

You are against politics in Wikimedia. May you define your position better? I suppose that you are not against "a process by which groups of people make collective decisions", which the the main definition of politics.
Politics, as in the public and private practice of politicians, shows a disconnect between what is said and what is done. It is a posturing by some on first principles and at the same time a total lack of room given for compromise and accompanied by a lack of personal involvement and an imposition on the others who are to do the actual work.

May you define bureaucratic tendencies inside of Wikimedia community, according to your opinion?
The Language Committee offers a great example; our rules gives us the room to come up with exceptions. We made an exception for the Sanskrit Wikisource, we made this exception because of the special role Sanskrit plays for many languages and cultures in India. Changing our rules as a consequence limits and changes the wriggling room the LC has. It is not necessary and it is a disservice to the competency that can be found in the wonderful members of the LC.

What would you change in Wikimedia Foundation if elected?
When I get elected, I will be a trustee. This gives me a responsibility for the whole of the Foundation. The consequence is that I have to tread lightly and first have to learn even more details of the functioning of what makes up the total of our Foundation. I am known for my enthusiasm for certain subjects, I will not hide that but I will seek its place in order for it to fit in properly. 

What would you change in Wikimedia movement?
The Wikimedia movement is for me not synonymous to the Wikimedia Foundation. In what is effectively an ecosystem, actions by the WMF have an effect that can have a huge effect outside of the WMF. As a 800 pound gorilla in the multi-lingual information world, it is in a position to positively influence the position of languages and scripts on the Internet and beyond.

The synergy with Silpa is one of the best examples of how the total of our movement changes our world for the better. What is especially valuable is that Silpa ensures solutions that benefit the whole software stack and thereby the whole Internet.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

#IPv6, the future is made today

The #Wikimedia Foundation hosts some of the biggest websites in the world and the world is running out of IP-addresses. As we reach our readers and editors using the IP protocol, it becomes increasingly important that we have the technology to do so.

The WMF has started with the implementation of IPv6; Ryan Lane, Peter Youngmeister and Mark Bergsma have started working on HTTPS and IPv6 support for the wiki platforms. A new test cluster has been set up to serve these protocols, and limited testing on a subset of wikis has commenced.

Now that there is limited testing, it will be interesting to learn how traffic for IPv6 will grow. When it grows like mobile access does, it will become relevant quite quickly.

No #Wikisource in #Hindi

"There is no Hindi Wikisource" I was told. "How is that possible?" It may seem strange now but the way new Wikis were created in the past was not the same. When a new language was added, all the possible Wikis were created at the same time. Nowadays there is a policy for the creation of new Wikis and it means that among other things, the localisation of MediaWiki for Hindi has to be improved quite a lot.

Not having a Hindi Wikisource is strange, it would be appropriate for the Hindi community to step up to the plate. There is plenty of Hindi material that can find its way to Wikisource.

#Women orient themselves on the #society

A long time ago, Dutch feminist organisations developed a course that was aimed to emancipate housewives; stay at home mums.
It taught them how Dutch society was organised, how they could involve themselves. It included basis skills like how to read a newspaper and informed about the social issues of the day.

Some thirty, forty years later, the material is still used by women who taught it at the time. The organisations who held the copyright are thought to no longer exist.

The original public of Dutch housewives has been largely replaced by immigrant housewives. Many of them are reasonably proficient in their Dutch, many of them are eager to move on, out of their house and into society.

With the "VOS course" in a digital format, there is a need for a place to store it. There is a need for a place to modernise it, there is a need to share it with whoever is looking for training material.

Wikisource is considered as a place. A promise has been made to seek out if there are people or organisations who can claim copyright. In the mean time women with a big investment in this material consider the Wikimedia Foundation as a place where they could fit in.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

#Wikimedia news from #India

The many events organised in India, the many projects in the languages of India produce so much news, that the need for a newsletter is felt. WikiPatrica is that newsletter and, its first issue has just been published.

This month: hear what's happening from Wikimedians in Bengali, English, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Odia , Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu
Meetups in Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad and Mumbai
As usual, a flood of articles; check in to see where Wikimedia is covered and how
Copyright law changes, government initiatives, and the latest in licensing
Google Summer of Code, India and Mediawiki. Plus Berlin Hackathon, Wikimedia Commons and UploadWizard
Chapter membership opens!
Campus ambassadors hit Pune: find out all about it.

Monday, June 06, 2011

#WMFboard; an interview with Milos

Milos is another candidate for the board of trustees. We are friends and we have been at opposite ends on many an argument. Milos wants a debate and I am not that interested in one. In stead he got these ten questions to answer. His answers are as I received them and I clarified the questions when they were not clear.

I have offered to answer ten of his questions ...

If anything, the board provides gentle oversight have you ever noticed its politics as being overly intrusive ?
As a group -- no. However, some members of the Board have shown disrespect toward decisions of the communities (cf. Jimmy's actions of May 2010), as well as I am worried about Ting's authoritarian tendencies.

Anyone can be a candidate for the board through both the chapter elections and through the community elections. Are the issues different once elected ?

In the strict formal sense, there are no differences after the election. In other words, no candidate is legally responsible to those who elected her or him.

However, in the sense of political responsibility, if Board member elected by chapters is willing to be reelected, then such candidate has to reasonably represent chapters' needs. Similar issue is with
community-elected Board members: if such candidate is willing to be reelected, she or he has to think about community's needs.

As a board member of a chapter, would it not be more obvious for you to stand in the chapter elections ?
My Wikimedian work is more connected to the community and less to the chapters. Two of my main Wikimedian responsibilities are stewardship and membership in Language committee. Both of them are more connected to the community and less to the chapters.

Thus, I think that it is more logical to me to stand in the community elections.

We often do not agree in the language committee on procedures. I am dead against more bureaucracy and policies you are invariably in favour. Why do you think I have it wrong ?
There are three main meanings of the word "bureaucracy". One is descriptive, two are pejorative.

The first meaning is "Structure and regulations in place to control activity. Usually in large organizations and government operations."  The second meaning, derived from Kafka's works (especially The Trial) and usually used in Europe, is about rigid, estranged and unreasonable administration which makes life of ordinary people hard.

The third meaning, usually used in US, is about people in public administration who are using their knowledge of rules for personal gain, corruption.

You are not using the term in any of those senses, but in the sense of codifying the rules, which is completely different issue.

In relation to the first and basic meaning, Wikimedia -- as any growing organization -- needs administration (or bureaucracy) and that administration is mostly consisted of volunteers. Members of that administration are sysops, bureaucrats, checkusers, stewards, members of various committees etc.

In relation to the second meaning, I actually care a lot about such things and I am pointing to the members of Wikimedia administration how their actions could look like to newcomers. Exactly because of such
problems I wrote a satire few years ago.

To be precise, intentionally or not, you are a bureaucrat of this type. One of the widely obvious issues is related to your sticking to ISO 639-3 codes. Although it is obvious that SIL is making mistakes (from time to time they fix some of them), you are willing to deny existence of some project, if it doesn't have ISO 639-3 code. Your standard answer is that those people should ask for ISO 639-3 code. However, process of defining new ISO 639-3 code could last for years. In the mean time, instead of living project, we would have disappointed people in two years who are not willing to contribute to Wikimedia projects any more.

Your behavior is even more absurd: You were arguing that Wikimedia projects in Persian and Albanian should lose their ISO 639-1 codes "fa" and "sq" in favor of ISO 639-3, as, by your opinion their ISO 639-1 codes are referring to "macrolanguages" (which is, BTW, an obscure and very problematic term in linguistics; but you are extensively using it because it is defined in ISO 639-3 standard). That's exactly the type of "rigid, estranged and unreasonable administration".

I think that Wikimedia movement is still too young to have large scale problems of the term's third meaning. It could be the problem in the future, but we are fine now.

In relation to your interpretation of the term "bureaucracy", I have to say that one of the most abused excuses for the third meaning of the word "bureaucracy" is exactly insisting on less rules, so bureaucrats could use their deeper knowledge of the rules and loopholes for personal gain. I am sure that it is not your motivation.

Our last rules-not-rules conflict was related to the part of Language proposal policy. For the last couple of months we've agreed that we would accept Wikisource and Wikiquote editions in ancient languages. However, inside of the policy just Wikisource is mentioned ("Only Wikisource wikis in ancient or historical languages are accepted...").

I suggested to add Wikiquote into the policy and you opposed on the grounds of "bureaucracy". In other words, "bureaucracy" is your excuse for not letting Wikimedians know what they could expect when asking for new project. I think that that your position is abusing the word "bureaucracy" for making the point, as well as I think that it is very harmful for the Wikimedia movement.

The board is the top organisational level of the WMF. Still some people object for it to set policies, what is your opinion on this ?
Board is the top organizational level of the Wikimedia Foundation. Board is not the top editorial level of the Wikimedia editor community. Those two things are very different. Board's responsibility is to make directions how resources should be spent and to keep integrity of the projects. Board's responsibility is not to make editorial policies. That's community job.

The main task of the Board is to keep integrity of the projects. If it is necessary to do some unpopular moves to keep the integrity, that's Board's responsibility. However, I don't remember that Board ever had to do such thing in opposition to the community.

The second task of the Board in relation to gently point to the community about some important issues. Resolution related to the biographies of living people is exactly the way how Board should deal with it. Board didn't order to the communities what to do, but urged to take care about one noble cause: not harming people by adding bad faith non sourced data into their biographies.

* What is it the board vote needs; attention or politics ?
* What is it the board needs; attention or politics ?

According to the English Wikipedia article "Politics", it is defined as: "Politics (from Greek πολιτικός, "of, for, or relating to citizens"), is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs. It also refers to behavior within civil governments. However, politics can be observed in other group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious institutions. It consists of "social relations involving authority or power" and refers to the regulation of public affairs within a political unit, and to the methods and tactics used to formulate and apply policy."

The main meaning is "a process by which groups of people make collective decisions". I see that the inherent part of any Wikimedian group is exactly that.

As someone who was living in one semi-authoritarian bureaucratic (third sense) country -- Socialist Yugoslavia -- I can say that statements like "we don't need politics; politics is harmful" are exactly excuses for making personal gain based on people's abstention from decision-making processes.

And your contrast between "attention" and "politics" is saying that you treat "a process by which groups of people make collective decisions" as something bad.

The Dutch Wikipedia is again the tenth largest Wikipedia. Are you happy about that ?
I am happy to see that Wikimedia projects are flourishing. I am not happy to see competition between them.

Nowadays the board influences the Office through its direction ... any comments

Isn't it a regular relation between a board and employees of some organization?

If there is one thing you could effectively change in our priorities, what would it be ?
We need younger generations badly to survive next 10 years. I see no mention of it in our strategy. So, that one thing would be to make Wikimedia projects more attractive and exciting to them.

#CTM11 #Wikipedia invited to "The Museum and You"

As our #GLAM outreach is gaining its impact, the Museum world is increasingly interested what it is that makes collaboration in Wikipedia and Commons so attractive. Several of our best and brightest will come to "The Museum and You"  conference in Düsseldorf.

At the event there will be a Wikimedia lounge where people will be able to find us. One of the keynote presentations will be given by Matthew Cock who was Liam's supervisor at the British Museum.

When you look at the list of participants, they are from all over Europe, some from countries with and others without Wikimedia chapters but all of them representing our cultural heritage.

It will be great fun, not only because such conferences provide wonderful opportunities to learn and meet people but also because you never know with whom we will be making a difference.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Selected blog posts at

Philippe of wrote to me asking if I was happy for him to copy selected posts on his blog. He does and, it is an interesting happy selection. 

How can I not be happy when it is done like this?

#EOL can now be localised at

The Encyclopedia of Life became available at as its latest project. At this moment, people have started the localisation process and for Dutch, Macedonian and Malay,  the current crop of messages is already done.

We can expect translations in Arabic that we will need to import. The expectation is that existing localisers for EOL will discover the advantages of working at translatewiki.

Megaloprepus caerulatus (Drury, 1782)

It will be interesting to see how a site that effectively mashes information from other websites will evolve when its interface becomes increasingly multi-lingual.

#WMFboard; politics - business is not as usual

To me #politics is a dirty word. For the #Wikimedia board of trustees, the last thing we need are politicians.

When you are interested, you know what I stand for. When you are interested, you will find interviews with other candidates on my blog. They are people I know, respect. They are people I want you to consider.

Not every body who I send 10 questions has answered them. It is one regret I have because the questions I send were my questions for them. Personal questions. Some candidates will not receive my questions as I do not know them. Some of them do not get questions for different reasons including that I have been otherwise preoccupied in the last week.

As a Wikimedian I am known as an advocate for several issues. I cannot and will not promise that I will be able to deliver anything. What you can be sure off is that I will be heard on these issues. The most important thing is that you can trust me to do well and mean well for this wonderful organisation that is so dear to me.

Friday, June 03, 2011

CÀqudJ is the same as ഇന്ദുലേഖ

Indulekha is a Malayalam novel about a beautiful, well educated lady of a Nair tharavadu by Chandu Menon. This book was published in 1889 and is one of the earliest books written in Malayalam.

Obviously it is in the public domain, and as there are digital versions of the book, it should be easy to include it in Wikisource. It would be if the book was available in Unicode. It is not.

What is needed is a tool that converts the tricked out ASCII text into proper Unicode. This is what the Payyans tool is for. What it does is make the text free in the way we understand freedom.

Once a text is converted into Unicode, it needs proof reading and, it takes social media to crowd source such an endeavour. The proof reading of this text is almost done, but would it not be wonderful when our environment is capable of building and holding the necessary communities, of making people feel at home, involved and as a consequence get more done..

Thursday, June 02, 2011

#Wikimedia, get the #GLAM statistics in order

The news letter of the Dutch chapter, has a nice item about the effectiveness of Wikipedia when a GLAM wants to have its material be seen by the world.

The numbers are impressive; the Dutch National Archive let it be known that we are 500 times more effective. The numbers were crunched by Kennisland, a "Dutch think tank seeking social innovation to improve the knowledge society", they produced a report in Dutch that is referred to in the news letter.

The report is quite damning on our statistics. I quote in translation: 
At Wikipedia there is a lack of integrated statistics:
Structural cooperation between Wikimedia and the heritage sector occur with increased frequency. Some small tools have been developed to maintain statistics for specific collections on Wikimedia Commons. What is lacking are running statistics on the Wikimedia servers. This makes it labour intensive to gather data and consequently it is less interesting for cultural heritage institutions to contribute to Wikimedia.
There is more but this is not only a known issue, it is not only an actionable issue, many chapters and the Foundation have enough money; the existing code on the Toolserver did not get reviewed so we do not even have to wait for review. All we need is a developer who is willing and able to do the work.

I have asked a friend with extensive MediaWiki experience for a quote. He promised me a quote by Wednesday. If other developers come up with a plan on how to improve the GLAM statistics, I am happy to learn from them.

When I have a quote, I will be looking for a chapter or somebody to pay for it. That will be next week.

The "Communist Manifesto" does #Wikisource

It is in the news in India that the #Communist Manifesto has its place in Wikipedia. They are right. Not only are there sixty nine articles, the Communist Manifesto itself can be found in Wikisource.

It is a good thing; when you want to learn about communism, you will find that good quality information is available to you. Making good unbiased information available to you is what we do at the Wikimedia Foundation.

The reason why this is in the news in India, is because recently a lot of work has gone into making the Communist Manifesto in Malayalam digitally available in Wikisource. Finishing touches are going into this work and, you know what? There is much more that can be done and will be done to bring the sum of all knowledge to the people of our world.

The #Odiya #Wikipedia has 1000 articles

It is a happy occasion when one of our older wikis finally has 1000 articles. It is a happy occasion because the Odiya language is one of the fifty biggest languages of the world. It is a story that is developing happily because it coincides with a growth in community and a continuing effort for its localisation.

There was a rally to write articles, real articles, good articles. Articles that are no stub. The rally succeeded in producing 230 articles in eight days.

It is quite astonishing to think that a fifth event is in the planning and a third workshop. With so much potential and with such dedication, it will not take as long to reach the 10.000 articles mark as it did for the to reach their 100th milestone.