Sunday, 13 January 2008

Collaborative Knowledge Generation

Here's an interesting idea, Open Source Learning:

Creating textbooks using a 'Knowledge Eco-System'. Open source tools and content. But how do we get the right people on the content i.e. how have domain knowledge and can create a useful and accurate textbook? This is a significant issue. Here is an example of a problem. I recently went to see Blade Runner: The Final cut, and this make me do some searching on the film to find out the actors in the film. In Daryl Hannah's Wikipedia page, someone edited her page with the following inaccurate information "She has recently had several notable roles, but was not in the movie Kill Bill, as is commonly believed.". This is wrong! The information was corrected - "She has recently had a number of notable roles including the Kill Bill series.". This is confirmed by another source, in case you haven't seen either film. She played Ellie Driver, a one eyed assassin. Richard argues for peer review at the end - I agree!

Which brings me on to the issue of Wikipedia - here's a talk by Jimmy Wales:

"Giving people access to the sum of all knowledge". Providing its accurate that is. I do like the idea of Wikipedia, but it always will have limits to its usefulness, for all the tools for tracking changes provided. For an example, see above. Oliver Kamm makes a number of valid criticisms of Wikipedia here and here.

Harry Barnes gives a Reasonable response to Kamm, but Jimmy Wales doesn't. No Jimmy, you must respond clearly and coherently to criticisms such as these.

Mena Trott on Blogs

Get your hankies out:

ok, its an entertaining talk and she makes some important points on the postive effects blogs can have.


Yep, Copyfarleft. No really. No honestly I'm not kidding, I think they are serious. See:

Its as if the soviet union never existed, and all the failures which led to the downfall of that empire are not failures at all. Kleiner talks about 'art' in the context of Copyleft GPL, but this licence was designed for software only - not for artistic expressions such as music, plays etc. A better way for these is the Creative Commons. Artists should look to licenses based on this, not the GPL! The concept of 'copyjustright' seems to make sense for artistic works. The DRM issue is not directly related to SCO vs IBM case re: Linux and trying to make a direct link makes no sense at all. A piece of music is not the same as a piece of software (the former does not need to be maintained, the latter does). This misunderstanding makes the article pretty incoherent. Companies get involved in open source (or free) software development, largely because of the technical and economic benefits which accrue - they don't 'own' the software, property in terms of free and open source software is something of a fuzzy issue.

The article puts forward the notion that Copyfarleft could be applied to artistic works. I'm interested in the idea as applied to software. Copyfarleft discriminates against a) groups and b) individuals. Any license based on this concept (assuming it could be enforced legally) would reduce the number of people using and developing the software, and therefore reduce the effectiveness of the open source development model (less eyeballs on code). It isn't going to work for software.