Wikipedia – The Sound of a Million Monkeys Typing

Peter Jones Civil media, Information Ecology, Media Ecology, Strategic Innovation

Britannica finally shut down its print version, and of course pundits blamed Wikipedia. They might have blamed Britannica online, on which you can search for free and read longer pieces. Just like Wikipedia. We, the Weberati,  have been entranced by the rapid growth and apparent cooperative organization of the free-to-read Wikipedia.  Academics and commentators have largely accepted Wikipedia’s superiority as a “matter of fact” and many present the unimaginable volume of the resource as proof of the viability of the open, online wiki system. I’m reviving an old issue  that has never been resolved and remains live for me. CAN Wikipedia get better over time?  How would we know?  How would we measure improvement?  Would we ever agree?  I’m not convinced that it will improve beyond its current state. It is still quite an accomplishment, but is still not the miracle we are expected by current social norm to respect. Last year, Time published a fair overview of the history of Wikipedia. They revise the Britannica controversy by claiming the reverse now, that Wikipedia is almost as correct as Britannica. …

Scholarly Publishing – Where is the Value Realized?

Peter Jones Information Ecology, Media Ecology, Service Design

Now that Elsevier has withdrawn its support for the Research Works Act, it will be interesting to see if the academic boycott goes “full Occupy” on Elsevier (and other publishers) or recognizes that its been listened to with respect. Its a complicated and emerging relationship. Thinking about scholarly publishing as a service system, the authors are not actually customers of the Elsevier services directly – they are end users of a subscription service. So while they complained about high prices, they themselves never paid those prices, even indirectly. The university library has always been the “customer” and the subscriber business model is not the same as a service. There is no exchange for realized value. In scholarly publishing, the academic author has a relationship with the journal and editor, never the publisher (e.g., Elsevier). So the argument about providing work as IP to a publisher is also disingenuous. An author is free to submit work to one of hundreds of journals – online publishing has proliferated more journals than ever in history (and most of the new ones are not …

What Jaron said …

Peter Jones Information Ecology, Innovation, Media Ecology

Today’s New York Times places Jaron Lanier as a central voice contra-pundit to the extremes of discourse in the SOPA/PIPA copyright controversies. I’ve posted my thoughts directly in response to other articles. Jaron’s is one of the long-range views that actually comes from insight into multiple industries and the effects of poor decisions made a long time ago. Essentially, yes, SOPA is bad and poorly written, as is all legislation in the Boehner house. What do you expect? To blame it all on “corporate evil” is misguided and hypocritical. It is easy for consumers demanding anything and everything for free , but free consumption has costs to producers. Jaron points out the devil’s deal the cheap consumer made a long time ago, and how that’s playing out now in the oscillation back to hard protections as encoded in these bills. I cite one quote in fair use from The False Ideals of the Web: The adulation of “free content” inevitably meant that “advertising” would become the biggest business in the open part of the information economy. Furthermore, that system isn’t …

Mac people are friendly, but are Macs?

Peter Jones Information Ecology, Media Ecology

I often make a simple argument on behalf of the Windows (7) system, which I advocate as significantly more usable than the Mac OSX. And yes, I use both, regularly. I like the idea of just listing a number of operations the Mac does poorly, Dave Letterman style, from my own experience of working with both platforms in information product and everyday use. Number 10.  You cannot easily update the OSX operating system. Every bit of the process is locked down. We have a Macbook Pro with Snow Leopard on one partition, and it refuses to allow the installation of Leopard on the other partition. Locked out. Windows, I could install on that partition. But not another version of OSX? Number 9. The non-standard video interfaces. WHICH Macbook dongle did you need? I teach at a design school – you need a collection of 5 dongles and 5 minutes for each Mac to get them to display on projectors. Number 8. Flexible hardware interfaces. Its all locked down, again. No SD card. USB is fussy and slow. Having to eject …