Friday, July 30, 2010

#Unicode on sorting French topic lists

A list extracted from the French #Wikipedia is used for "Unicode Technical Note #34". This document presents a case study of collation issues, using data from a French language topic list to illustrate alternative orders and how to obtain them. It also discusses implementation issues for ordering lists of this type.

Even though the document is quite interesting, I would have been thrilled when collation for a language like Hindi, Kannada or Burmese was chosen.

A story to tell

The Indonesia Wayang is a well known theatrical tradition. To remain relevant, it is important that it keeps its relevance. UNESCO designated Wayang Kulit a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.

With a history that goes back many, many centuries Wayang kept its history and it maintained its relevance by including contemporary references and story lines. It may be not that hard to guess what kind of story is told with this Wayang puppet..

We just received this magnificent treasure from the Tropenmuseum and it shows how Wayang kept its relevancy. What makes the Tropenmuseum more then just a museum is that they give attention to the modern expressions. An expression that presented the theatre world of Ki Enthus Susmono earlier this year. A world where Batman, George Bush, Osama Bin Laden and the Tsunami have found their place.

When traditions like Wayang constantly renew themselves, the Wikipedia need to reflect this, Commons needs to illustrate this. I hope that we will gain the freely licensed pictures that show the vibrancy of this magnificent art.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

#Tropenmuseum brings us "stock-puppets" and more

The collections that we were happy to receive in #Commons were typically old photographs or pictures of all kinds. This time the Tropenmuseum brings us something new: pictures of objects. Objects like these amazing wayang puppets.

screenshot from the Commons category

There are manuscripts in many languages on many materials, statues, Korans, jewellery, weapons, miniatures, musical instruments, textiles, pottery, proclamations, designs for silver jewellery ... the list goes on.

A paddy field fisherman with a fishing rod.

This new collection is vast. Multichil started to upload the new pictures and really, there is so much that it will take real effort to grasp what it is that we received from the Tropenmuseum.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Failing #statistics (finally)

Now that Erik Zachte announced issues with the statistics as published, it is a good moment to reflect. It is the aim of the Wikimedia Foundation to double its reach in five years time, doubling our traffic. The expected result is expressed numerically and consequently we require hard numbers.

There are numbers of Wikimedia's traffic by the likes of Alexa and comScore, so there are alternative numbers providing us with a second opinion. Their numbers while good are no alternative for the numbers needed for our own purposes.

The numbers are used in many ways and for many audiences. They are important for the GLAM's that contributed material to us. These same numbers provide the arguments to other GLAMs to work with us. They are used to learn how a competition is doing. They provide background numbers when we talk to the press on many subjects.

Our statistics are vital. When I asked for a slot for a panel discussion at Wikimania about statistics, the numbers ended up being quite different. I am now at a loss how to appreciate the numbers we have. I understand that some statistics will be approximated to what they should have been. Other numbers will not receive such royal treatment.

This mishap is painful and I really hope it is felt that way. As we have several people working professionally on statistics, as many studies are done based on the numbers we provide, as the Toolserver is another resource that relies heavily on us accruing the right numbers, it is fair to call statistics one of our primary processes.

For our other databases we have redundancies, I hope that we will learn from those responsible for the accumulation of data that our statistics are based upon how our data collection will be made more robust in the future.

A skin for a vertical script

The continued work that is done to enable #SignWriting is awesome. The SignWriting script is written top down and, this needs to be reflected in the user interface, the skin. I love the design..

I wonder what a Wikipedia logo would look like :)

Anyway, here is also the video that goes with the blog post. It is in ASL and, the actual blog post does not feature the new skin yet... :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New languages available in #MediaWiki

When people request a #Wikipedia in a language new to MediaWiki, there is a requirement to localise the "most used" messages. Currently 469 messages make up these vital messages. As long as these messages are not completely localised, the language committee will not take any action. is where this work is done and it is for the developers at translatewiki to decide when languages are made available in the MediaWiki interface.

Today in revision 70029, five new localisations were added to MediaWiki, they are:
  • Moroccan Spoken Arabic (ary)
  • Banjar (bjn)
  • Kabardian (kdb)
  • Kabardian (Cyrillic) (kbd-cyrl)
  • Dutch (informal) (nl-informal)
I have learned from the developers that they stopped adding the language once the first localisation was added because the localisation stopped with the "most used" messages incomplete.

The rules of the language committee ask for the completion of the "most used" messages but we hope that the messages of the Usability Initiative will also be done because they will have a similar impact.

Translating an historic text in #Batak

Sisingamangaraja XII is an official hero of #Indonesia. So much so that his face adorns the 1000 rupia bill. Original documents relevant to the struggle of the Batak at the beginning of the twentieth century are important and of historic relevance.

When I asked the Tropenmuseum for a text in the Batak script, it was our good luck that I received a really relevant document. The text is only two pages and it is adorned with the seal of the Raja on the first page.

In the document Sisingamangaraja insists that the Dutch colonial troops keep the peace in accordance to a letter of peace. From my perspective, using the official seal is a way of giving the letter gravitas. Having the text translated in Indonesian, Dutch or English without knowing the existence of the seal prevents a full appreciation of the document.

Top of the first page

When you look at the scan of the first page, you find an annotation in Dutch saying: "Inappropriate use of the seal". This I do not understand. Another thing I do not understand is why they gave Sisingamangaraja XII a beard; in the many photos of Bataks I have seen there was no male with a beard.

Kartika Henry asked me in if I could translate the Dutch translation into English. I have done my best but I am sure that it can be improved upon.

Translation of the letter by Si Singa Mangaradja
                 in the Royal Institute of the Tropics                                                                                          No. 687/73.

This is a letter of (our lord) Si Singa Mangaradja, who rules over the blackeyes (the Bataks), addressed to the "highest general", leader of the war for the Kompenie. The reason for this letter to be addressed to the "highest general" is this; I have heard, that you are warring at Sibagindar (?) and that you have taken my subjects prisoner, that is Si Rompis and Guru Mangabat it is said.
But I have received words of peace from the great lord of Medan and the great lord resident of Tapanuli and from the controller of Barus that the Kompenie will not wage war against me and those I rule.
I have also given this letter to the great lord resident of Medan and the great lord resident of Tapanuli and the controller of Barus, there is peace and that I will not war on the Kompenie awaiting the result of the meeting of the ambassadors of the Lord of Barus and the radja Hatorusan and the lord of Tunga, that the Kompenie me and those I govern will not engage in war, that the Kompenie will not trespass (what is not desired?) and now I say to the "highest general": Return, do not continue to wage war on me and those I rule, because in accordance with my letter to the great lord resident of Tapanuli and the controllers of Barus it is not permitted to the Kompenie to bother me and those I rule (with what is not wanted?)
Therefore: when the "highest general¨ and his troops do not return, the Kompenie is in breach of the words of peace and the agreement made by the great lord resident of Medan and the great lord resident of Tapanuli and the lord controler of Barus. This is why I say finally; when there are complaints about my subjects at Boang by you Kompenie, send your letter to me in Pakpak so that I can order an investigation and ensure that my subjects have no problems, therefore go away from here. If you do not leave, you will be in violation of the letter of peace who was given by the great lord resident of Tapanuli and the great lord resident of Medan and the lord controller of Barus. So be it.
        the month November 3th day - 1904

Monday, July 26, 2010

Innovation at #Wikimania

Wikimania is such an intensive event, that I spend all my time on the people, the talks and the events themselves. This years Wikimania in Gdansk was no exception; as always it was a magnificent event and there were several new things to be welcomed.

My plan is to mention the highlights when the videos get on-line. However, one new thing is the creation of a multi lingual content project, a book with 104 Wikipedia articles about Lech Wałęsa.

I am happy that I may use the announcement as a "guest blog".

Hi all,

I'm pleased to announce that the book about Lech Wałęsa, which was
prepared for Wikimania 2010 in Gdańsk, has been published at Wikimedia Commons.

The book contains biographies of Lech Wałęsa[1] in 104 languages of
the world. Every biography comes from a different language version of Wikipedia. All the text was retrieved at the same moment - On the 1st of March, 2010. The book was prepared by volunteers from the Polish Wikipedia community and the whole book, including the cover, is available under CC-BY-SA 3.0. All the authors are listed on the book's last pages.

During the closing ceremony of Wikimania 2010 the book was shown for the first time in public. And a few days after Wikimania, the
President of Gdańsk, Wikimania organizers and Polish Wikipedians gave Lech Wałęsa the first copy of the book.

The book is available in PDF format on Wikimedia Commons:


Learn to write British Sign Language

If you sign in the British Sign Language and want to learn how to write in your language, you can come to Southport for the first workshop in the United Kingdom.

As we want to spread the word of SignWriting and as a friend of mine worked hard but in vain to organise one such event earlier, I am really happy to bring the flyer of the event under your attention.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A request for a Balinese #Wikipedia

A request was made for a Balinese Wikipedia. When such a request is made, all kinds of checks are made. The language is recognised; its code is ban. Nowadays the Latin script is used, there are no native speakers involved and the localisation at has not started yet.

Modern Balinese is mostly written in the Latin script however traditionally it used to be written in the Balinese and the Javanese script. It also used to be written on lontar or processed leaves of the rontal tree.

The example shown consists of astronomical data for the organisation of an agricultural year and was given to the Tropenmuseum by its first director in 1926. As we were not sure of the orientation of the document, we asked Revo Arka Giri in order to know this for sure. We learned from him that the document is in the 'embat-embatan' style of writing. The difference with standard lontar is that the nerve of the leave has not been removed.

As far as I know, there is no Unicode font for the Balinese script. It has however been encoded in Unicode. The script is still used and it will help the digitisation effort of historic documents. Currently they can be scanned and transliterated into the Latin script but it loses its character and probably some of its meaning.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

#ICED Rejects its 1880 Milan Congress Resolutions

It is hard to appreciate the significance of this press release. It is on the same level as having a German or Japanese head of state for the first time apologising for the atrocities in the second world war.

Following the 1880 ICED Milan Congress Resolution, many vibrant cultures of signing deaf people were destroyed. In many countries the process of reversing the mentality expressed at that time only started something like 50 years ago.

Sign language and its culture have progressed remarkably in most countries sign language has gained official recognition and is taught in schools for the deaf. SignWriting is finding its way in schools in many countries. As sign languages become written languages, a disaster like the Milan resolution will not be as total.


July 20, 2010

At the opening of the ICED 2010 Congress, July 19th, organizers addressed the Deaf Community’s concerns regarding the Milan resolutions of 1880, which banned sign language in educational programs for deaf children.

“‘Partners in Education’, the theme of ICED 2010, emphasizes the importance of working together,” said Claire Anderson, Congress Chair. It is with respectful partnerships of educators, parents, students, and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities that we will maximize the opportunities for meeting the educational needs of our students.

To this end, the Vancouver ICED 2010 Organizing Committee and the British Columbia Deaf Community worked together to develop a statement, which addressed the issues concerning Milan.

This statement “A New Era: Deaf Participation and Collaboration” was introduced to Congress participants as the beginning of a dialogue to promote healing and set the path for future collaboration.

The statement:
  • Rejected all resolutions passed at the Milan Congress that denied the inclusion of sign language in educational programs for Deaf students
  • Acknowledged with regret the detrimental effects of the Milan Congress, and
  • Called upon all Nations to ensure that educational programs for the Deaf accept and respect all languages and all forms of communication.
The audience, both deaf and hearing, spontaneously responded with an outpouring of emotion and a standing ovation. “History has been made today and the words of the Vancouver Statement can replace the hurt caused by the Milan decision,” said Joe McLaughlin, sub-­‐committee chair, in his closing remarks.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The state of the Wiki in India (part 1)

I am really happy that Salmaan Haroon accepted my invitation to be a guest on my blog. He took the time to write down his vision for Wikimedia in India. People who want to express a contrasting view are invited when they are as thoughtful.

I wonder what comes to mind when someone mentions India to outsiders; yoga, meditation, the Taj Mahal, strong deterring images of a hot third world country, huddled masses a billion strong- the second largest population in the world.

India currently provides the fourth largest traffic to Wikipedia according to, behind United States, Japan and Germany. The thing to bear in mind with this statistic is the sheer size of the audience here - Germany with its 81 million, Japan with its 127 million both represent a far higher number of internet users than India with over a billion in population. Currently, it only accounts for 7% of the population that is providing the 4th largest traffic to, in contrast to 75% in the case of Japan. This is staggeringly low even among developing nations; 36% of Brazil and 31% of China is currently online. The majority of the traffic originating from India is directed towards Wikipedia and the English Wikipedia in particular, the bulk of the traffic is being generated from Delhi and Mumbai according to Google Trends, followed by the states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Also of note in the Google Trend figures is that traffic has been steadily rising since last year, nearly doubling from January 2009.

What are the factors behind a drastically low figure of 7% of internet usage in the Indian population in comparison to say China? It’s actually a myriad of factors in addition to poverty, corruption and highly uneven distribution of wealth that are endemic to developing countries. First it’s the uneven  population distribution, 70% of India still resides in rural areas, not as affected from the rapid urbanization in the recent years. There are currently 47 cities with over one million residents, the city of Mumbai is currently the largest city in India and the 5th largest in the world in terms of population with over 20 million denizens, followed by Delhi, the capital of the country as the 8th largest metropolitan in the world with over 18 million inhabitants. Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India is also a very important city in terms of internet usage with over 5 million of some of the countries most literate and technically versatile population. Other factors besides an uneven population distribution like the languid pace of IT infrastructure development, with years of bureaucratic protocols hampering the speed of technological progress and comparatively high cost of Internet availability are also to blame.

So what’s the point of interest for Wikimedia in the country? India is poised for exponential growth in terms of internet users in the coming year with the advent of newer technologies and massive investments by Private companies, this combined with the strong economic growth in the recent year rivalling china puts India on the forefront of growth in terms of internet users. India is already the second largest market in the world for mobile internet users. Secondly, one third of the population in India is currently under the age of 15, representing a massive opportunity in terms of social networking and other web 2.0 properties. A young population would not only provide a sustained growth for years to come but easier accessibility and visibility to a wider population.

The biggest Issue in engaging the Indian audience is language. India has one of the worlds most culturally, linguistically and genetically diverse populations. Here are some facts about Indian languages - There are 22 languages that are recognized as official languages by the Indian government, there are over 1600 other languages and dialects in total. India has two major and distinctive linguistic families: the Indo-Aryan used by up to 70% Indians and the Dravidian with over 22% of speakers. The Indo Aryan family easily dominates in terms of usage with Hindi having the largest number of speakers with over 350-400 million speakers, Hindi also happens to be the principal official language of the Republic of India. The second most spoken language in India is Bengali with over 83 million speakers followed by Telugu at over 74 million and Marathi at 71 million speakers and Tamil at 60 million speakers (all figures from 2001 census of India). The major Dravidian Languages are Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. There are also some Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman languages making up a small minority.

Hindi being designated as the official Language has been a heated issue in the country for over 50 years. The official base for Hindi speakers is centered on North and Central India, including the capital and the seat of the government- Delhi and its neighbouring states. The rest of the country particularly some southern states have been less accepting of Hindi with objections towards a foreign language being unnecessarily forced on them while their own distinct cultural and linguistic identity was being de-emphasized since Hindi is not openly spoken or used in many southern states. Their have been multiple instances of Anti-Hindi agitations historically in the Southern states. Linguistic rights have become an even more delicate issue with some political parties voicing their opposition to Hindi.

The issue of note here is the lingua Franca of the country - English. English has enjoyed a long history of usage in India for centuries under the British rule; it became established as the language of administration and higher education. It is officially recognized as a subsidiary official Language or secondary official language by the Republic of India. The importance of English is agreed upon by the vast majority of the literates, aside from all the Anti-Hindi position; English is considered a necessity to remain globally competitive. English breaches the language barrier in many of the southern states reaching across very culturally and linguistically bifurcated communities. In some Metropolitan areas, it’s not unusual to find families who use and prefer English as their mother tongue and have been doing so for decades. A recent discussion about the Anti-Hindi issue on one news channel raised this issue to a young studio audience, when a suggestion of parting with English and having Hindi in addition to a mother tongue was raised. This suggestion was laughed off by the majority of the audience since the program itself was in English onring states. The rest of the country particularly some southern states have an English News Channel, It is also the only language the entire audience understood comprising of speakers from different states.

I had the privilege of attending Wikimania this year in Gdansk. In one of the discussions related to Strategic Planning, I was asked about the history and usage of traditional encyclopedias in India. Whether the encyclopedias we had during school were in English, I may not have been the right candidate for this question being a bit young; I was born at the right time for the Tech bubble, so I had Encyclopædia Britannica and eventually Wikipedia on my computer before I had to ever look for an encyclopedia in a bookstore. The answer however was yes. The point that I wanted to make was this, the computer that I used and the majority of the country used for years were pre-dominantly Windows based, Microsoft Windows didn’t have support for different Indian languages without the Language interface pack which came out much later and even then it was not used by the majority of the user base due to issues with character input, this might be in contrast to say China where localization was available easily and widely. So the majority of the Indian community that is online have to understand and use English to some degree of comfort. This might also point to some co-relation between literacy rate, economic factors and Internet usage in India.

India represents a very rich cultural and linguistic base for the rest of the world. Going ahead, the Wikimedia foundation needs to decide if it’s interested in pursuing a strong user base in India Full Stop regardless of which language of Wikipedia it uses or if it wants a diverse linguistic base. I personally would suggest establishing a strong user base first and getting a high visibility rate in India before a diverse base could be nurtured. So far none of Wikipedia’s Indian language projects have been able to break the 100,000 article mark- Hindi for example has slightly over 50,000 articles with over 250 active users, followed by Telugu at over 45,000 articles and Marathi at over 30,000 articles, needless to say these statistics don’t take into account the quality and the size of the
articles in question.

Recently, several Translation projects for Wikipedia have been being undertaken by Google and others community supported machine based translation project which might offer a hopeful avenue for growth but the community consensus so far, has been against the use of machine translation especially since Indian language present a very distinct linguistic subset. There have also been some concerns that this might be against the nature of the projects since such an approach is not community oriented and the articles themselves aren’t contributed to by individual editors, perhaps a more organic or a hybrid approach would be needed to tackle this issue.

Salmaan Haroon

All Statistics and Figures mentioned above are taken from the English Wikipedia except where explicitly mentioned otherwise. Traffic statistics from for, traffic analysis from Google Trends.

The #Batak script

In #Indonesia many languages are spoken. They are written in several scripts, the Latin script, Javanese, Batak. The literature in those scripts represents an vital source needed to understand these people, their language and their cultures.

I learned that Batak people are looking for the funds to have their script entered in Unicode and to have a modern font for their script. They are Indonesian people learning about world standards. Without Unicode entries for the glyphs their literature can not be transcribed on a computer.

Adding standardised glyphs into Unicode is specialist but also formal work. The standard for each glyph is defined, their behaviour is defined and the work is considered by standards organisation to ensure that they conform to the requirements defined in the standards.

The Tropenmuseum provided me with this letter from Si Singa Mangaradja the last "king" of the Batak to the Dutch general in charge of military affairs. Si Singa Mangaradja is considered a hero in Indonesia. Texts like this are important to understand the man, its people and the historic events.

With the Batak script in Unicode, with a freely licensed font, it becomes possible to publish Batak texts on DVD, on the Internet. The Batak people will be able to study their history and as important, their language is enabled for use in the twenty first century.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nicole Sophie Savu-Benjamin; welcome to our world

Congratulations on your first day. I am sure that your mammy and daddy will be happy to enjoy many days and years with you.

Reconstructing the politics of days gone by

The Dutch National Archive and #Spaarnestad photo have announced that they are going to provide the Dutch Wikimedians with a selection of some 1000 pictures that will cover particularly Dutch politics and politicians.

The selection that will be provided may be small but the quality will be awesome. Not only will it it cover many Dutch politicians, it will cover them in many of the deciding moments like the "nacht van Schmelzer", the formation of a government in 1977. The pictures will be from the ANEFO press collection, a Dutch press agency that operated from 1943 to 1989.

Prime minister Den Uyl and minister van Kemenade
in the game show "twee voor twaalf"
What makes this donation particularly exciting is the way in which it will be presented; on September 13 there will be an event where several politicians will be interviewed about their personal memories of the events depicted in the pictures.

It will be a fun meeting as not only will they go on record, it provides perfect information with these pictures. I hope to see you at the International Press centre Nieuwspoort for what is sure to be a perfect occasion.

Sandra Ordonez good to see you

When the #Wikimedia Foundation was still located in St Petersburg, Sandra was its communication manager. I met her at Wikimania and she knew me well enough to introduce Valerie Sutton and SignWriting to me. It got me interested in writing sign languages..

On Sandra wrote an interesting piece about what working for Wikipedia taught her about collaboration. What Sandra wrote is nice, it describes her experience ... and then there are the comments.

When you read them, I find that it has little to do with what Sandra wrote, they are the usual bunch talking about the usual things with no consideration whatever for the occasion.

So go ahead and read what Sandra wrote that part at least is nice.

The Indian #rupee

The Indian ministery of finance had a contest for the creation of a currency symbol for the rupee. The winner would get R250,000 and on the 15th of July it was announced that D. Udaya Kumar won the competition.

The winning character is a combination of the Devanagari character Ra and the Latin character R. The jury chose the winner and recommended it for cabinet approval. It did indeed meet cabinet approval announced minister Ambika Soni.

Now that the character for the Indian rupee is official, it needs to become available in fonts for use on computers and on the Internet. As it is a completely new character, it needs to become accepted in the Unicode standard.

On July 19, a "working group document" for the ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2 was published. When this document is accepted, it will be the basis for a glyph in Unicode that will be the standard for derivations in Unicode based fonts. The assignment for an UCS codepoint is urgent as it ensures that all fonts refer to the same glyph.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Obviously, Jesus is white

When you look at the many images of Jesus, he must be white because he is mostly depicted as a young lily-white young male. When you consider that he was from a Semitic origin, such images do not show what he looked like. The crucifix at the Cathedral in Mexico City provides as powerful a illustration of a suffering Christ as any other crucifix.

Within the Christian churches, there have been many instances where later generations bemoaned the puritanical notions of their predecessors. They cut of the penises of Roman and Greek statues, they destroyed statues and imageries in several iconoclasms all in the name of their personal God.

At this moment there is a discussion about the existence of images of Mohammed. There are Muslims who belief that their prophet should not be depicted. At that they are as devout as the many Christians who belief that Jesus and other religious figures should not be depicted. Both Jesus and Mohammed cleaned out their temple consequently this type of puritanism has a great provenance.

There is no such thing as the Wikipedia. There are Wikipedias in over 270 languages and their communities have representations of many people and cultures. These include even more incompatible beliefs. In this day and age, there is an iconoclasm by Muslims who belief that Mohammed should not be depicted and in time honoured fashion they will strike out where they feel to be insulted.

Such a belief is not tolerant, and as a consequence such people have a problem applying our NPOV to what is an article of faith to them. Coming to an consensus is problematic because there is so little appreciation for the others conflicting pillar of faith.

Articles of faith are problematic in any Wikipedia. Fundamentalism is one reason why I do not edit the English Wikipedia.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Developing #statistics at #translatewiki

With a community of some 2000 localisers, there is so much going on at that we need statistics, newsletters, blog posts and statistics to get the message out. There are people representing the 300+ languages and they do not all master English that well. Many of our localisers use another language as the basis for their localisation work.

Statistics are a very powerful tool; a great statistic says without words what takes many words to explain. The above statistic is new; it shows the number of localisation of the MediaWiki core and all of its extensions that were localised over time. You can see the effect of our community localising the Usability Initiative messages.

The statistics we produce exist to get one message out: "Thank you for the good work you have done.. Want more ?". We only do this for the relations that are easily expressed with numbers. Some relations are obvious but hard to express in stats and graphs. My favourite one is: the quality of localisation and the growth of the number of readers and editors for a Wikipedia. Another question is how important is our community for new Open Source applications that come to translatewiki. Does our community grow when new applications appear.

We would love to have people like Filipe Ortega or Erik Zachte work on such questions but they are typically swamped with work. What may be of interest is that it will not be only Wikimedia related but also benefit OpenStreetMap, Freecol, Shapado ..

Friday, July 16, 2010

#BBC stay focused, it is news you provide

The news of the BBC, it has an enviable reputation of being independent, relevant, timely. The BBC world service is my favourite channel in my car, its news items end up in my reader. I am increasingly unhappy.

On a local level, it may be news that Donna Forrest was murdered at a house in Balintore in April and that a man who was jailed for killing her. It is however no news on a global level.

Dear BBC do a proper job and filter out what is no news for your global audience. Alternatively do a global job and inform us about the traffic accidents or murders in Egypt, the Netherlands or Argentina as well.

It is better to bring less news then irrelevant news.

Corruption, problems or issues

At #Wikimania there were many people telling each other many tall stories. I was given the impression that I am influential. I will shamelessly use this to further the goals I champion.

On the Foundation-l there is a thread about corruption. This is uncomfortable reading because the people in power, the people with influence, the coteries, the chapters who get their way are the likely villains.

The thread was started by Milos, he is a steward he is with me in the language committee, he is very much respected in the Serbian chapter. I am sure that he is like me "very" influential. He heard several stories and so did I. Several of these stories raise issues for instance did the German chapter sign the chapters agreement, is this or that election procedure transparent and fair, enforce people who are "in power" notions that will kill Wikipedia...

For me they are at best issues. Agreements can be signed, there will be next elections and when powerful people are stupid and harmful, they can be replaced. No problem, painful maybe, but no problem.

Strong words like "corruption" are dangerous. They poison the well from which we drink. When the label "corruption" fits, I want to have it reduced to a problem that is assigned to someone who deals with it. A person that is not me.

We aim to bring information, knowledge to the people of the world. That is a challenge, a challenge that we are meeting head on. This is what motivates me, I expect that it is what motivates us all. It is great when we have people who can and will deal with problems even when they deserve heady labels such as "corruption". I hope and expect that they are mostly bored out of their skull.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The #Malayalam#Wikipedia success story continues

At #Wikimania in Gdansk, the news of a CD with some of the best content of the Malayalam Wikipedia was well received. It was not only an important exercise that taught valuable lessons, it was also distributed to 7.000 schools by the government of Kerala.

At Wikimania the developer of the software and Siebrand had a look at the code; together they discussed the optimisation and the internationalisation and localisation of the software. It would be the first software for where the original software is not written for the English language..

In a new development it shows again the importance of open source and open content. As the CD project is both, its content has been included in a DVD with many Free Software tools and applications. This DVD is sent to 60.000 teachers in Kerala.

If you are interested, there is an online version of the CD and the ISO image can also be downloaded.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wels #catfish are HUGE

In the #Oostvaardersplassen there are too many adult carp. The carp can be predated on by the Eurasian otter, the white tailed eagle and the wels catfish. The wels catfish can be found in the canals surrounding the Oostvaardersplassen and they represent the easiest way of improving the aquatic ecological pyramid. The problem is that it is not possible for carp to leave and for welsh catfish to get into this nature reserve.

I found a great Youtube movie showing adult welsh catfish; with a length that can be over two meters, they are fear inspiring fish... Enjoy !!