Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Trusted identities on the Internet .. #NSTIC

On a White house blog the NSTIC or National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace is announced. As I understand it, it is to help people manage their identities on the Internet. This first draft of NSTIC was developed in collaboration with key government agencies, business leaders and privacy advocates.

The need to manage your identities starts with being able to manage your password and being the owner of data about you. For me this means that I am the one who decides what information is given to whom.

Even though the need is obvious, I do not want to make Google, Facebook or any business leader the host of my data. At that I prefer for instance the Wikimedia Foundation.

The WMF hosts many international communities, it has policies that aim to protect its users. In many discussions there is talk of a Wiki movement, this is the time to quickly take the initiative and provide a socially acceptable service to manage our identities.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

17 June has come and gone

I knew that Naoko was going to leave us, it said so in an announcement by Erik Moeller. I thought it would be the end of this month as this would be when the last projects were to be converted and share the benefits of the usability initiative.

Naoko left on the 17th. I admired her for her work and involvement as a project manager. I am sad that she left, and I am sorry that I missed the moment.

143 languages are getting ready for the #Usability upgrade

There is a #Wikipedia in over 270 languages and of these 143 have some messages of the Usability Initiative software localised. This came to light when Shiju Alex asked why Tamil was not in the list. The answer is that it is rather depressing when it shows the many many languages that still have made no preparations at all.

There are some 378 messages to translate and, they will be "in your face"; they are likely to replace many of the current  "most used" messages. The software of the Usability Initiative will be rolled out to all projects.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Chapter meeting of #Wikimedia Nederland

Given the size of the Netherlands and the many people interested / involved in Wikimedia projects, it is no wonder we have three member meetings each year. Going to such meeting means meeting friends, talking shop and learning what is going on.

This meeting we had a presentation in addition to the numbers of and the feedback on chapter activities. RonaldB gave a presentation of statistics that indicate problems ahead for Wikipedia. The issue he highlighted was that we do not retain our editors. Particular new editors leave us in droves. As Erik Zachte was also present, a nice discussion evolved comparing methodology and interpretation.

One observation was that in our beginning social software did not exist and, the Wiki community very much filled a social need.

Quite special was the presence of Blueknight and Bibi. Blueknight's mother tongue is the Dutch Sign Language and he brought an interpretor in order to follow the meeting. This was fun; it meant that only one person could talk at a time, we had to pronounce well and every now and then we were asked to speak not that fast. The effect was that the meeting went really smoothly.

The most relevant parts of the meeting was the problem with key people becoming a show stopper and, the wish to make the chapter more professional. This is necessary because it allows us to follow up on the many requests from Dutch society for our cooperation.

#BBC this should not be on your news website

Sure it is sad. But it is not news. People of all ages die as the result of a traffic accident. It would be news if the Queen or Lady Gaga were to expire in this way. That would be news for the same reason that the demise of Lady Diana in a traffic accident was news.

BBC with such "news" you lose your relevance.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

#ASCAP undermines its own foundation

ASCAP advertises itself as the "worldwide leader in performance royalties, service and advocacy for songwriters, composers and music publishers". Fine. The basis of performance royalties is copyright. In order to legally extract payment there is a need for a license that insists on this. There is a quid pro quo; you sell a license to me and I pay you money.

To grant a license is the prerogative of a copyright holder. ASCAP is an organisation that is owned and run by "songwriters, composers and music publishers" and as such they have a monopoly by their own admission. Recent publications indicate that ASCAP is raising funds to fight organisations like Creative Commons.

What they seem to forget is that it is the copyright holder that decides what license to give to its work. When this connection is lost, when ASCAP takes the position that music must mean royalties and royalties to be paid to ASCAP, they clearly behave like a monopolist.

The record of organisation like ASCAP is less then stellar. There have been frequent law suits intended to get major amounts of royalties paid to the rights holder.

PS it is odd for a music related website where no music is to be heard.

Friday, June 25, 2010

#Wikimedia Foundation wants us to support #Burmese

When you get mail from the "Head of Partnerships and Foundation Relations" introducing someone from the Burmese Wikipedia community seeking support for its language it pays to do some reading on the subject. An obvious place is Wikipedia another is the Burmese Wikipedia itself.

When you read the available information, there are clearly font issues. People use Zawgyi which is currently the most widely used solution for input in Myanmar-language websites. It is however not Unicode compliant and this is what MediaWiki relies on.

There are tools to convert Zawqyi texts to Unicode, there are even tools to convert what you type in Zawgyi to Unicode (5.1). We can suggest that input methods become available in MediaWiki for Burmese but in the end, from a point of view there is only so much we can do. is about internationalisation and localisation. We are looking for more developer support to do just that. We are looking for Burmese localisers to improve the quality of its localisation. For the technical support of scripts, for improvements of the usability of MediaWiki for scripts and languages we rely on the MediaWiki developers, we rely on the Wikimedia Foundation to give this its priority.

NB Yes, we will talk in Gdansk

#Linux provides input methods for the languages from #India

In the #Ubuntu Software Centre, there is a piece of software called the Indic Onscreen Keyboard. The software provides a virtual keyboard for many of the languages from India; Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Malayalam, Punjabi, Oriya, Sindhi, Tamil and Telugu.

The Ubuntu software provides you with a drop down menu from which you can select one of these languages. Given that the software is Open Source, I would love to see it find its place on all the phones, computers where it makes a difference for the people from India.

Having such input methods may help to provide a level playing field for these languages on the Internet. I cannot really recommend this software as I can not properly test it. I am happy to post a review by a guest blogger though :)

#translatewiki news

As the translatewiki staff work really hard on making such a success, it is easy for them to forget to communicate what is happening. As one problem gets fixed only to be replaced by the next "opportunity", it is easy to forget how much got done.

Siebrand updated the Project:News and there is a lot that has been done. Finding it listed like this is awe inspiring. New applications, new extensions, new functionality, improved functionality it is all there.
It makes you feel good to belong to such an energetic community. This is what the staff, the 2000 something localisers have achieved.

There are still plenty ambitions;
When such wishes are granted, there will be more updates that bring you the news from translatewiki that informs you how its community makes a difference for you.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The proof of the pudding

If ever there is a contest where the biggest prize is won by a community, it is the Bebaskan Pengetahuan 2010 competition. Consider what it would take to double the number of regular editors, what it would take to have 60% of them to be female? What it would take to challenge any Wikipedia for the quality of the new articles that were written?

I think the Indonesian chapter has proven itself with a carefully organised and flawlessly executed competition. They have set the standard for involving universities in an effective and also cost effective way. Impressive is the scoring methodology; the criteria were published in advance, each jury member scored independently but at the same time the results could be challenged. This competition proves that projects like this can be run anywhere.

On the foundation-l there is again a lot of talk about getting women involved in our projects. This competition makes the Indonesian Wikipedia shine. Consider; the contest was organised by a woman, it was won by a woman but more importantly 60% of the new editors are women!!

I sincerely hope that the innovative approaches taken with the Bebaskan Pengetahuan 2010 competition will find many encores.

#Shapado, the free Q&A Software from South America

Hi all,

Gerard gently asked me to write a post about Shapado and so I obliged today.
We're a bunch of developers who live in South America, David and Jorge Cuadrado live in Colombia, the awesome country where they build castles on bridges because they're bad ass and I, truly yours, live in Peru where people enjoy cutting rain drops with scissors just because they can.

We all work on  Shapado which is a (buzz word alert!) free, useful, social, ajaxy, wikiy, HTML5y, reputationy, reddiggy Q&A forum.

What does that mean exactly? Well, Q&A means people can ask questions and answer them. Reddiggy means people can vote on the best questions and best answers. Useful means you don't have to read 10 answers before finding the best answer to a question, because the most voted answers get to the top of the page. Reputation means users can be trusted because when they give nice answers that get tons of votes, their reputation gets up, which is a sign of trust. HTMLl5 means that when your browser or computer gets a nasty crash, all is not lost thanks to local storage. Wiki means answers that suck can be edited, improved or just deleted. Ajax means you don't have to refresh the whole page every time you need to do something but it still work for noscript addicts. Social because you can login with your OpenID or even twitter and facebook and link your accounts together. Free means it's free as in freedom so you can hack it anyway you want, but if you just want to give it a try, there's a hosted version that enables you to create your forum in a couple of seconds.

Anyway, you get the idea. We also have a great moderation/admin interface and customizable UI with themes, JavaScript, ads, analytics and whatnot. Last but not least, thanks to the awesome project, we're available in a gazillion language now so don't hesitate to help on that front or on the code.

We're also pretty edgy when it comes to our stack, the whole thing runs on Rails with MongoDB as the database through the MongoMapper ORM, which is pretty rad too. Anyway, I hope you find it interesting and, have fun giving it a try.
       Patrick Aljord

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

#Wikipedia statistics are not good but not that bad

Improving the reach of Wikipedia is considered to be a strategic goal for the Wikimedia Foundation. When the traffic numbers fall to their lowest since August 2008, things are seriously wrong.

The good news is, the traffic numbers are seriously wrong; the page view aggregators were broken for a few days and this explains a lot.

When you look at the statistics, you will find that the last two months were not as good as the same months in 2009. This is however not the steep decline that is expected by the current trend in the monthly statistics. I hope and expect that the numbers will be corrected so that the anomaly of malfunctioning aggregators will not affect future comparisons.

Reintroduce what became extinct

Every year the Summer news brings the message about the Oak Processionary. Every year a lot of money is spend on flaming, sucking many caterpillars to provide local relief.

The Forest Caterpillar Hunter is extinct in the Netherlands, it is widely used in the USA to keep the Gypsy Moth under control. It would be cheap and natural to bring this little beastie home.

Every year I try to get people to appreciate the notion that natural predation is to be preferred. This time I called the Dutch Ministery and Staatsbosbeheer. I send e-mails to both and I will report when I get a reply that is more meaningful then "we will study your suggestion".

#iPhone iOS 4 has superior #Unicode support

There are many publications singing the praises of the latest version of the iPhone operating system. Buried in all the attention for stuff like multi tasking, folders and other improvements for the iPhone is the first aspect of what makes the iPhone a preferred phone in India.

Its support for the Malayalam script is much improved. The Unicode characters show perfectly, it is only the old chillu characters that are an issue.

Life would be perfect when there was a way to actually enter the Malayalam characters.. Please Apple, what about an input method ?

Formal and informal #localisation support for #MediaWiki

Both the German and the Dutch language allow you to address people in a formal and in an informal way.

When you localise software like we do at, it is important to be consistent; either formal or informal for the default. For MediaWiki the default is informal for German and formal for Dutch. This does not fit always well; we have supported formal German for quite some time and as we now support the Wikia extensions, we learned that its default for Dutch used to be informal.

Given that the formal Dutch localisation is complete, it is what informal Dutch falls back to. This has the added advantage that only those messages where there is a difference needs to be localised.

With Wikia localising at, we gained many localisers and consequently the quality and quantity improved. As the same is true for Wikia, it becomes clear that translatewiki's policy to grow the number of applications it supports is a winner.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Congratulations on your weddingday

When two people marry, it is an occasion celebrated by family and friends. Many people will come to congratulate and others not able to come congratulate by sending a card.

When this blog post is published, my nephew Jan will marry his wife Marion. I am grateful to Stefan, Valerie and Charles with these beautiful marriage cards.

These cards are in American and in German Sign Language, for me they show that SignWriting is indeed a script that is used for normal and special occasions. There might have been a card in Vulcan Sign Language, with a text like "Live long and prosper".

#Soccer madness; the case for the #Bavaria dress II

Thanks to #Fifa and the SA government, the Dutchy dress is a success. Their ham fisted response shows them to be the money grubbers that they are. With a little bit of ingenuity they could have responded like Grolsch did.

By throwing some of Netherlands finest in jail, they demonstrate that soccer is  not the party it is supposed to be. It became sadly serious.

ANP Olaf Kraak

There is one misconception about the Dutch dress though; there is an English dress, an Italian, a Spanish and a French dress. There is no German dress; they do not drink Bavaria :)

It will be interested to learn what FIFA does when Dutch WAGs will be wearing the Dutchy Dress..

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Objects from the #Tropenmuseum for #Wikipedia

A CD is on its way with 6056 photos of objects for uploading to #Commons. These photos complete the Indonesian collection of material that is shared with us by the Tropenmuseum.

So far we have had many scans from photos. This is the first collection of pictures of objects with the relevant meta data from a GLAM.

Multichill hopes that he will find the time to upload this material the coming weekend. This and finishing the work on Indonesian geography would make it two mile stones that are completed.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bug 23258 - Enable PagedTiffHandler on all wikis, to allow display of TIFF files

Some bugs are happy bugs.. Bug 23258 is one such. It is the news that the software is ready to support TIFF files in MediaWiki.

This is a happy announcement, and it will be a happy day when the software has gone live.

#Soccer madness; the case for the #Bavaria dress

The prize for the best advert goes to Bavaria. They have created a nice sexy orange dress for the world champions. To make these dresses even more exciting, the news is that South African police picked up some of Netherlands finest.

The advert that introduced the "Dutch dress" is one of the best soccer adverts ever. When you know that these dresses do not sport a logo it is clear that the heavy handed attitude of the official sponsors only results in ridicule.

I hope we will see a sea of "Dutch dresses" in the final and for your information, Budweiser, the original, is an European beer.

Part II

Monday, June 14, 2010

Improve communication

On the Malayalam #Wikipedia there is the idea to write articles based on what people want to read. Shiju Alex posted the idea on Foundation-l.

The idea is to have a list of searches that failed to provide a result. Sprinkle some statistical magic on it, and it will be a tool that makes a difference in generating traffic for our projects.

The thread is positive about the idea. It is considered not hard to implement and this thread provides a fine moment for the Wikimedia organisation to reward positive ideas.

It has been said all too often that communication between the community and the organisation has broken down. It has broken down because it is only announcements that reach the mailing lists from the organisation. As a consequence the function of the WMF mailing lists has deteriorated.

When the WMF is to consist of two separate unconnected parts; an organisation and a community this would be acceptable but in my opinion that is not what any of us want. It would be good when positive threads, contributions are at least acknowledged. It would be good when every now and then positive threads, contributions are rewarded.

This is an idea that deserves rewarding.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

If you would go to Wikimania, you'd have one task :)

I received an e-mail from Milos Rancic.. The title is this title and, this is the body of his message
To convince Sue and members of the Board to find a way how to pay
Michael Everson. We should talk about it these days via Skype.
As I have made that point on this blog before, on the strategy wiki on IRC and to everybody who wants to hear; Michael can help us give languages a more level playing field. He is the acknowledged world expert on this.

What else to say.. that he is Irish, that he is cuddly, that he spends too much of his time on charitable causes as it is?

The best and only reason that counts is that this level playing field will make many of our Wikipedias take off. It will grow our appeal not only in countries like India, it will gain us a lot of positive attention..

Saturday, June 12, 2010

#Wikia functionality wanted for #Wikipedia

As the Wikimedia Foundation worked on its usability project (UX), Wikia did not stop improving its offering of MediaWiki as well. The illustration shows a MediaWiki blog by Avatar announcing slide shows.

My blogging is hosted at Blogger. I am happy with and used to its functionality, but I would consider blogging on a blog at Meta for instance. As the WMF in its strategy wants to improve participation, it is something to consider.

Avatar announces slide show functionality.. When you consider the many, many wonderful illustrations we have at Commons for so many subjects, it seems an obvious and welcome addition to our functionality. It is things like this what makes editing at Wikia so appealing.

When it is considered, remember that the Wikia software is open source, that it is localised at and, it has been tested on a website with a lot of traffic.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Open Standards and the European Union

When Neelie Kroes was the commissioner for competition of the EU, it was an expensive experience for Microsoft. Now that she is the commissioner for digital agenda of the EU it may even become a devastating experience. When you read this speech of her, it is clear that the days of the dominance of proprietary standards in the EU government are coming to an end.

When businesses are to communicate with the EU they will have to conform to open standards. When Microsoft products do not provide such compliance, businesses will have no choice but to look for software that does.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Whether #twitter or

I learned that #Twitterfeed allows me to post to I  post all the tweets that I type in on my account and have them forward to Twitter. As the software is localised at, it is easy to understand why is my first choice.

Both Twitter and even more so Facebook want to determine what privacy and freedom I have and want to bombard me with things I have no interest in.

If everything works out well, Twitterfeed will generate a message to This will be forwarded to Twitter so in a way it is business as usual. When Twitter makes this impossible they will lose custom.

New in #GMAIL

Some companies require big conferences that dominate the news to announce what is hardly news for their fanboys while others quietly roll out new functionality as and when it becomes available.

Given that Google is Internet centred, it is obvious for them to roll out in an incremental way. Then again their conference Google-i/o is still as easily filled of relevant news that is new.

Today I found that I can add other people to the GMAIL chat function. It is intuitive so what more needs to be said?

Ideatorrent for #MediaWiki ideas

Early on in the #strategy project, there was the idea to make use of an ideatorrent. There were all kinds of reasons why this did not happen at the time including the fact that it did not make use of our SUL. It still does not but it does make use of OpenID a very welcome idea.

I have tried it, I have submitted an idea that is now waiting for moderator approval.

Maybe you want to give it a spin as well. It would be cool because there must be so many ideas that are worth considering.

Monday, June 07, 2010

#Shapado supported at

Shapado, is new as an application that is supported at When you want to ask or answer questions, Shapado is there for you. It even allows you to host your own Q&A site.

The Shapado software is available under the GNU Affero General Public License and the content under CC-by. The messages of Shapado are already available for localisation but the project page is still under construction.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Ordnance Survey data for #Wikimedia Commons III

With Multichill progress can be rapid. Earlier today I posted a template, this is the same template. It starts to come together :)


Ordnance Survey data for #Wikimedia Commons II

The Ordnance Survey 1:250 000 Scale Colour Raster map is being prepared. The skeleton for all the good stuff is being build. It looks like this and as it is, it is good for nothing..