The Wikipedia Exodus Is the Least of Our Worries

Web 2.0 will save us

“A Web 2.0 site is one that by definition gets its value from the actions of users. But what happens when the best users stop using?

Wikipedia, which is arguably the most valuable source of information on the Internet, is written and edited almost entirely by volunteers. But what happens when those volunteers stop volunteering?We’re about to find out. In the first quarter of this year, the Wikipedia lost an incredible 49,000 editors, literally ten times the number lost in the same quarter last year.Another potential threat to Wikipedia is that its expenses could outpace costs. Currently, the site runs on donations. But if the most die-hard fans are leaving — the writers and editors — they could take their donations with them.As volunteerism goes down, successful acts of vandalism go up, and the resource becomes increasingly unreliable, which could cause even more people to leave and even fewer people to donate. Crowdsoucing is great — until the crowd goes somewhere else.Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but the death of Wikipedia is the least of our problems. The Wikipedia exodus is the least of our worries…” — Mike Elgan (Datamation)

No Longer a Civil Rights Footnote

On that supercharged day in 1955, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Ala., she rode her way into history books, credited with helping to ignite the civil rights movement.

But there was another woman, named Claudette Colvin, who refused to be treated like a substandard citizen on one of those Montgomery buses — and she did it nine months before Mrs. Parks. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his political debut fighting her arrest. Moreover, she was the star witness in the legal case that eventually forced bus desegregation.

Yet instead of being celebrated, Ms. Colvin has lived unheralded in the Bronx for decades, initially cast off by black leaders who feared she was not the right face for their battle, according to a new book that has plucked her from obscurity.” (New York Times via abby)

Phil Agre Has Gone Missing

Philip Agre was an associate professor of information sciences at the University of California at Los Angeles, and for years he ran a popular technology e-mail list with thousands of subscribers. But one day the 49-year-old scholar just stopped showing up on the campus, and now colleagues have deployed Twitter, Facebook, and the Web to try to find him.

Last month the university police department put out a missing-person alert for Mr. Agre, whose absence was reported to authorities by his sister. The alert says he abandoned his apartment and his job “sometime between December 2008 and May 2009.” It also notes that he suffers from “manic depression.”

The scholar apparently had many professional contacts but few close friends. An expert on privacy, he was always guarded about his own, say those who know him.

“In his personal life, he never wanted to discuss social things,” said Charlotte Lee, an assistant professor of human-centered design and engineering at the University of Washington who worked under Mr. Agre when she was a doctoral student. ‘When his behavior got more erratic, nobody felt close enough to him to help, and we thought we'd help by protecting his zone of privacy,” she said. “Respecting that zone of privacy is what allowed him to slip away.’ ” (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

As someone who was a participant in and subscriber to his ‘Red Rock Eaters’ mailing list for the duration, I am reposting this to spread the word. He is certainly someone who would know how to drop off the grid if he wished to, but I worry that something more dire has happened to him.

Monster Waves on the Sun

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‘Years ago, when solar physicists first witnessed a towering wave of hot plasma racing along the sun's surface, they doubted their senses. The scale of the thing was staggering. It rose up higher than Earth itself and rippled out from a central point in a circular pattern millions of kilometers in circumference. Skeptical observers suggested it might be a shadow of some kind—a trick of the eye—but surely not a real wave.

“Now we know” says Joe Gurman of the Solar Physics Lab at the Goddard Space Flight Center. “Solar tsunamis are real.” ‘ (NASA -Mystery of the Solar Tsunami–Solved)

African leaders advise Bono on reform of U2

Bono thanks Commission chairman Nelson Mandela for the report.

“An expert commission of African leaders today announced their plan for comprehensive reform of music band U2. Saying that U2’s rock had lost touch with its African roots, the commission called for urgent measures to halt U2’s slide towards impending crisis.

“Our youth today are imperiled by low quality music,” said Commission chairman Nelson Mandela. “We will be lending African musicians to U2 to try to refurbish their sound to satisfy the urgent and growing needs for diversionary entertainment at a time of crisis in the global music and financial sectors.”

Concerns about U2 have been growing in Africa for a while. One Western aid blogger testified to the Commission that his teenage kids found U2’s music “cheesy.” The Mandela Commission proposed that U2 follow a series of steps to recover its Edge:

1) Hire African consultants to analyze U2’s “poverty of music trap”

2) Prepare a Band-owned and Commission-approved Comprehensive U2 Reform Strategy Design (CURSD)

3) Undertake a rehabilitation tour of African capitals to field-test and ground-truth proposed reforms

4) Subject all songs to randomized experiments in which the effect on wellbeing of control and treatment groups is rigorously assessed.

Mandela expressed optimism that the Commission’s report and proposed reforms had come in time to stave off terminal crisis in U2, and restore its effectiveness in the 80s arena rock field.”

via Aid Watch.