My new personal blog is at chriswaterguy.net
). Lots to say, on communication, society, science, the environment, what's happening with Appropedia
, & whatever catches my attention - but I say it concisely.
Australians with any interest in wikis: Don't miss this event if you can help it, the coming weekend (plus the Friday if you can make it) - 20-22 Jan, 2012 in Canberra.
It's free, and it's catered, but it'll be more awesome the more people turn up to share their perspectives - whether geeky, ed-oriented, #Gov20
, or other relevant themes.More info
: University of Canberra/RCC2012
"RecentChangesCamp2012 is an OpenSpace unconference focused on wikis and online collaborative practices. It has been held in Canberra twice so far, and held several times in other parts of the world..."
LiveJournal comment spam is getting ridiculous, and the CAPTCHA option in our settings does nothing to stop it.
We have to deal with spam on Appropedia
, but we don't let it get out of control like this. We use the spam url blacklist from Wikimedia sites, and we have the option of restricting posts containing urls, e.g. by anonymous and new users. There are tools like AbuseFilter and TorBlock, to get even more sophisticated. There is no reason LiveJournal couldn't use similar methods to clamp down on spam.
Then there's the WordPress plugin Akismet - does an amazing job at filtering out spam comments on our blog. And the Bad Behavior plugin for WordPress means we don't even have that many spam comments to get filtered out (which means my routine check for genuine comments that get spammed is a an easy job).
It's not even that hard. A simple algorithm could make things so much better - e.g. "all comments that contain a url and aren't from friends are held back and only posted if the user okays them
." But we have no such options.
It's not a big problem for me personally - I already have plans to move my blog to my own domain (coming soon). But it's a huge shame to see a thriving community like LiveJournal (which is also a blog platform with some cool features) let the spam bots take over without putting up an intelligent fight. And it's impacting political discourse
I just found that in my Privacy
settings, I can choose how I screen comments. So now I've chosen to screen comments from non-friends - so they won't be posted unless I read the notification email and approve them. That's much less of a pain as I can just ignore notifications of spam emails. But it means that effectively I'm acting as the spam filter, and that LJ's spam filtering is broken.
I'm also changing my privacy settings to disallow anonymous posts. Sorry folks. But I won't be posting here much longer.
Late night television in Indonesia involves watching a lot of vignettes where awesome good-looking men do awesome things. sometimes with admiring good-looking women looking on. Some of them are quite inspiring. Not in any tangible way, mind you - just the way that watching a superhero movie is inspiring.
In none of these mini movies does anyone smoke - even though they are in fact cigarette ads. But the brand is displayed prominently at the end, followed very briefly by a health warning.
But last night, there was a twist. After the usual awesomeness - this time on a yacht - the health warning appeared as if torn from the cigarette packet, at an angle, and floating in the water... where it had apparently been for some weeks, as it was encrusted with patchy brown gunk, and very difficult to read - even assuming you could pause it to give yourself time to read it. So this warning about heart problems and impotence became a cool part of the vignette.
Very clever - I wish I had a fraction of these advertising smarts for promoting Appropedia.
We're expanding our internship programs for Appropedia - for those who want to learn about wikis and make a difference at the same time. One of the programs I'm looking forward to is our web development internship - for those wanting to get experience with MediaWiki and/or WordPress and Python. The model is that we have a team with interns and a number of mentors/advisors.
At the moment we have a good number of advisors, and one intern for the (northern) summer! If we find another intern or two, even better, but the main thing is that we've now got things rolling, and will continue the program into the new academic year.
A little more info:
- You will use your tech skills for good - helping to build a comprehensive database of knowledge for sustainability and solutions to poverty.
- Appropedia is the leading wiki for sustainability, with a focus on practical solutions.
- The only fixed requirements are a desire to learn and a willingness to try.
- This is a global, online project, and you can work from anywhere in the world with internet access.
- Start date is flexible - the program begins on May 1, but individual interns may start later.
Please pass the word around!
Email conversation after the recent election in NSW, Australia. Context: The Greens increased their vote by 2% to about 12%, but this was dwarfed by the massive swing against the Labor party, to the Liberals [for non-Australians, the "Liberals" are actually our conservative party]. We could analyze why they didn't do a lot better, but the simple fact is that the Greens vote is slowly climbing each election.
A former advisor to a conservative PM, appearing on the discussion program Q&A (on the national broadcaster, the ABC
). I was so disgusted, I sent this email to a friend:
Me: Graeme Morris was on TV talking about how the Greens got nearly wiped out. Political spin (an indirect term for "lies"). When they choose these panels, I wonder if they think "We've got a very sharp commentator, and a non-partisan, sometimes insightful writer... now for balance, let's get on a lying party hack, like Ackerman, Bolt or Morris."
My friend responded: The Rules for conduct of the ABC now state* that any panel discussion must contain a left or moderate person, a random Joe/overseas person and a foaming at the mouth right-winger who would be incapable of surviving outside of their myopic bubble of hate and venom, like Andrew Ackerman or Piers Blot (sic). This is because it’s now been Proven that the ABC is in the thrall of the left (although, funnily, even eleven long years of John Howard didn’t manage to shift that, despite his best efforts – so I’d guess the condition is terminal), so bringing in an unhinged righty brings the average just about back to the centre... and this is the main reason why I cannot watch Q&A. It’s called balance, you know.
<sigh> Well, at least it wasn’t – say – Scott Morrison...
*well, they don’t, but they might as well
Tthere are intelligent conservative commentators. Gerald Henderson, deeply partisan as he is, would be a big improvement. There are others who I think are better on economic matters, and there must be better commentators on politics as well. Why not get one of them on?
All we see of George Orwell
in popular culture is a shallow TV program that uses his sinister theme of "Big Brother". But he was one of the great thinkers of the 20th century, all the greater because worked hard to express his ideas clearly, and because he risked his life for his beliefs - ultimately losing it to illness which he probably picked up on the battlefields of Spain.
In the late 1930's and for a long time afterwards, being pro-communist was popular among European intellectuals. Orwell stood out for being socialist, yet vehemently anti-communist. Many others on the left turned away from communism during the 1950s or later. (A small number continue with religious fervor to believe whatever nonsense is required, to keep the communist faith today).
When did Orwell reach his views against communism? And what led him to this? I'm still trying to figure that out.
He had a great clarity of thought in moral and political issues. Not infallible of course - discussing this with a friend, I'm now convinced me that Orwell was wrong to say that the British ruling class approved of Franco and Nazism prior to WW2. But he was right so often, and so far ahead of his time.( Read more (with lots of quotes from Orwell)...Collapse )