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Interview: “How and Why Wikipedia Works”

July 10th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Dirk Riehle interviews three major Wikipedia contributors (in the English, German, and Japanese language Wikipedias). A very scholarly article, his abstract reads:

“This article presents an interview with Angela Beesley, Elisabeth Bauer, and Kizu Naoko. All three are leading Wikipedia practitioners in the English, German, and Japanese Wikipedias and related projects. The interview focuses on how Wikipedia works and why these three practitioners believe it will keep working. The interview was conducted via email in preparation of WikiSym 2006, the 2006 International Symposium on Wikis, with the goal of furthering Wikipedia research [1]. Interviewer was Dirk Riehle, the chair of WikiSym 2006. An online version of the article provides simplified access to URLs [2].”

NYC’s “Community Free Software Group”

July 7th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Through a NewsForge article today, I just learned about the Community Free Software Group that operates here in New York City.

“CFSG is in the middle of its third PC Garage, a program that brings kids and computers together at community centers around New York City. Selso DaSilva, one of the founders of CFSG, says that PC Garage is “an idea that seems obvious when you think about it. [We] help kids put together computers at community technology centers and other community-based organizations using free software as the teaching medium, and in the process the kids learn about technology that respects their freedom while building a computer they can take home.”

CFSG teaches people about working with hardware, the values of Free Software, and also specific software applications: “CFSG is putting together a program that will help high school students learn programming concepts, and it currently offers a 3-D animation course using Blender3D. “We’re [also] putting together graphics workshops featuring the GIMP and Inkscape, as well as an audio editing course with Audacity.”

NECC Report: “Open source popular with schools”

July 6th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

NECC, the National Educational Computing Conference, is being held right now in San Diego. has bloggers on site recording the level of interest in open source among the teachers attending the event. In short, there is a great deal of interest!

Sessions on Free Software and Moodle have been packed to capacity. Public computers running K12LTSP have been in constant use, and over 15,000 educators are in attendance. Ubuntu shipped 2,000 giveaway CDs to the conference! And Nicholas Negroponte is there to discuss the $100 laptop project.

Author of the post, “pnelson” summarizes: “I’m not sure if the Linux world realizes that schools are ready for a change to free software.”

Microsoft to Support ODF?

July 6th, 2006 Benjamin Horst issued a press release in response to Microsoft’s announcement of an ODF-MSXML translator:

“ welcomes the news that Microsoft has bowed to pressure from the marketplace, which is demanding Microsoft adopt ISO 26300 Open Document Format (ODF) as its native file format for all its Office products. Microsoft’s announcement of official support for a proposed ODF converter is the first step towards meeting that demand, and will give users of its Office software partial access to the standard.”

It appears that Microsoft will be releasing an open source component (downloaded separately, not included with MS Office) to handle the translations. Now we have to see how difficult and inconvenient they will make it, in their effort to dissuade potential users. (Though, if it is truly open source, the community can come in and fix MS’ deliberate errors in the program…)

The other big question is whether their support of ODF will be complete and honest, or whether they’ll try to undermine it through “embrace, extend, extinguish” as they have done with numerous standards in the past. On this point too, I remain highly skeptical.

WikiCalc Screencast

July 4th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Dan Bricklin continues to hack away at his fascinating WikiCalc project. SocialText offers an intriguing screencast of WikiCalc’s current development state here.