Older blog entries for mirwin (starting at number 218)


Back from the grave. Apparently stable short term URLs and a link from Wikipedia -->> The 16th most visited site in the web world according to Alexi. High enough rank that even with serious error bands and over reporting, we should see a steady stream of curious people from Wikipedia main page through Wikiversity trying to figure out what it is and whether it has any value for them.

My niece and nephew were here from Texas last month wondering if there was any way to get some math help next year long distance. Their parents are to my certain knowledge hardcases requiring them to do the work before helping them check it occasionally or providing sustained attention as they work on a tough one. No doubt they thought I would be a soft touch willing to do their work for them. lol

I will give them a call and provide URLs at Wikiversity where we can do some useful tutoring and leave some useful materials behind us for others. If we can work the technology properly maybe some of their buddies will find the site of interest.

Actually I guess I need to make prior contact with their parents and make sure they have had their quarterly briefing regarding internet safety procedures before I send them the URLs. It will be interesting to see how original they are in creating their handles for their user accounts.

If this Wikiversity thing works out perhaps they will be interested enough that we can accelerate their math enough that they will be ready will they get to college. I never really recovered from the deficiencies in my high school access to advanced mathematics. Topped out at basic trig and limits definitions. Not exactly preparation to compete directly with half the engineering students repeating calculus. My high school math instructor told us if anyone asked if we had trig to tell them no. Unfortunately no one asked. If you had the sats to get into the engineering program you were supposed to be ready for engineering calculus. I guess somebody has to get the Cs but it was a serious shock to me after breezing though high school.

Since I was the first from my family to graduate college I really should have no regrets. I just want to see some generational progress. If they want graduate degrees I would like them to have a fair shot at the grades, activities, and socializing necessary for good shots at scholarships and internships.


It's dead Jim.

Perhaps someone at an existing university or other source of decent facility resources will revive the concept when they decide they wish to be at the front of a free information wave.

Worth noting that stable URLs are critical to the formation of a web/wiki community. If nobody can find it, there is no action. If there is no action even the occasional stray participant gets bored and wanders off.

28 Apr 2006 (updated 27 Oct 2006 at 04:54 UTC) »
26 Apr 2006 (updated 27 Oct 2006 at 04:55 UTC) »
26 Apr 2006 (updated 27 Oct 2006 at 04:57 UTC) »
25 Apr 2006 (updated 27 Oct 2006 at 04:58 UTC) »
9 Mar 2006 (updated 27 Oct 2006 at 04:59 UTC) »

Public Capitulation of Cert War

excerpted from message posted here:

Hi Kelly,

First, I cheerfully acknowledge loss of the Cert War at Advogato. Despite even long stretches of the trust metric being broken or non calculated I have never successfully achieved certification as a master. I go now to post public capitulation at my diary at advogato.org.

I am interested in your java project porting Wikimedia to a Java environment . I have been studying Java sporadically and need a useful focus to my efforts to learn the language. I have little interest in the language for its own sake, I am more interested personally in possibilities implied by peer to peer distribtuted processing with free software components for entrepreneurs with little starting capital.


We are still stalled with no permanent namespace to advertise effectively. I guess I will update the advogato Wikiversity project sheet with a useful link instead of the current dud ... en.wikiversity.org (de.wikiversity.org works but I have no idea whether the German language project is progressing well) and start adding alternate links to other sites that might be of interest for free educational materials.

Maybe we can just pretend the ineffective tab location at www.en.wikibooks is an interactive insider joke or something (Wikiversity is Not a University or Wikibooks ... WiNUKs ...maybe the Canadians will like it ... Starts with WiN, rhymes with smucks ...hmm ... WiNuWs ... rhymes with Great Gazoo ... ).

this article on some guy's dot.corg theory has an interesting discussion and analysis of incestuous dot.org and dot.com relationships. Late in the lengthy article the author makes several points that the dot.org must be perceived as trustworthy and accomplishing its values based mission before branching out to working with commercial organizations to create revenue streams (which are split somehow between the value oriented dot.org and the profit motivated dot.com) to reinvest in their respective missions.

Maybe it is time for an anonymous email to MIT asking their open courseware initiative managers to consider a parallel free project where the public could use wiki style software to modify and republish their stuff. Maybe tie in some constraints such as MIT CS grad students can spend DOD funding counting sentences and testing theories of semantics webs or inserting Turing Test Bots or something. Developing and testing ways to track and hide information from various agents with access to the internet. It would seem like something useful could be done to justify a few million dollars worth of bandwidth and computers. Of course MIT is a private institution .... maybe better to ask some tax supported institutions what they are doing to justify their tax bases and research money to the public at large.

Maybe point out to Homeland Security that a good multi-lingual Wikiversity would be ideal learning environment for future covert operatives and intelligence analysts regarding foreign languages, cultures, thinking patterns, and typical views or biases. American Free University Online ... other countries could either compete or ally with the effort. Start it off with a big bang announcement of how many effort hours the U.S.G. intended to allocate for its trainees to create free training materials for any or all to modify and use under an FDL. Tie it into President Bush's grand plan (3rd time's the charm) for getting to Mars on a shoe string by allowing NASA specialists to leverage off of available free grunt work to keep those space technology development projects coming in under budget and ontime. Some Pentagon spectacular photo-ops could show military parents collaborating with their kids on their homework the day before a combat patrol or after debriefing. Could not possibly be less cost effective than press announcements regarding Madison Avenue based propaganda ... could it?

Really go all out and ask the American people to make a supreme sacrifice for the war effort. Instead of just encouraging your alleged literate to earn college tuition or a decent retirement in the U.S. military dodging IEDs or raiding neighborhoods in a foreign land .... gun ho civilians could encourage their students still at home to key their graded homework and term papers into a world accessible database and discuss it with their peers worldwide .... have to set up some form of mediation I suppose when the inevitable grading scandals rock the nation.

In other exciting news, I plugged a replacement CDROM into my linux server and redid the incomplete installation of Fedora Core left when I broke the previous CD. (It was jamming and refusing to open, managed to "assist" it twice before breaking it one CD short of installation competion ... argh!) Everything appears to be working fine again except, as usual, internet access. I am not looking forward to setting up Linux to the DSL with Verizon again ... so far I am one for three. Verizon kluuge and poor installation instructions, no tech support at fault ... not Fedora Core) I know it can be done with the equipment I have (unless Verizon has changed their stripes) but I am still not certain what exactly worked previously, why and in what sequence to duplicate it reliably.

I played with Kig a bit. I really liked it when it worked but I seemed to hang it up periodically. I intend to check out the code but I have an ugly feeling it is in C++ whereas I am supposed to be studying Java. Still the potential for using it to plot orbits for space related games/papers/lesson plans/sci fi plots/etc. is tempting ... not to mention its solid possiblities for high school and college level geometry and trig for wikiversity ... I forgot to check the file export capability. No rush. Nothing interesting happening with math at Wikiversity prototype, no need for cool math analysis tools with good interfaces.

Still. Nothing ventured nothing gained. I will add a link to Kig in appropriate engineering, math, and space related department files and possibly a few courses. There is some activity in some of the computer language and programming courses ... maybe they would be interested in debugging tools useful to getting the engineering or other departments of passing interest to themselves going?

Good grief! K edutainment It looks like a motherlode! I guess I have enough to keep me out of trouble for a few weeks looking this stuff over and liberally sprinkling links around the wikiversity prototype/test/stall site to provide a little apparent progress for other participants waiting breathlessly for stacked Board approval to proceed.

10 Feb 2006 (updated 10 Feb 2006 at 23:06 UTC) »

openprivacy.org has a white paper that states they are using going to build test demos of their system showing how advogato and slash/dot's reputation systems can be duplicated and then correlated or computationally transferred between the two. They seem to think that establishing and managing a bunch of pseudonyms is the key to restoring personal control over private information while allowing society enough access for effective data mining.

I will have to look the site over a bit more but my initial opinion or bias is that they are in a dead end. To be truly useful and precise the data miners must pierce the obfuscation. It seems to me that, if it is effective, pseudonyms is more a method of dropping out of the information age rather than regaining privacy or control of personal reputation tracking. Consider a pharmaceutical product that creates specific side effects. In the U.S. nobody outside the medical industry that stands to get sued when a problem is detected has access to the "personal" or "private" information that patients are experiencing side effects. Ultimately anonymous data is subject to charges of fraud or incorrect data collection techniques and ignored by courts. Whereas, a few tens or hundreds of people banding together to come forward with specific information regarding specific side effects can launch class action lawsuits for hundreds of millions or billions in damages.

Yet a few hundred commoners probably do not have the resources to pierce the veil of pseudonyms proposed while I suspect any government agency or corporate behometh willing to spend a few million could probably gather the resources necessary to easily circumvent it ... i.e. some of the same developers creating the pseudo privacy.

Still it extremely interesting to me if it leads to any useful advances in reputation management systems. It seems to me that such mechanisms might be usefully combined with access mechanisms to manage detailed information over public grids. The mechanisms need not be incredibly robust. After all, a lock or front door in the physical world only keeps honest people honest and provides evidence of forced or illegal entry sufficient for prosecution purposes.

Perhaps an electronic keep out sign or mechanisms could be developed in browsers placing the onus of cookie and spyware management back where it belongs ... on the electronic or computer wizards wishing to collect information entered or stored on peoples desktops or portables. Unfortunately a development such as this would probably require some aggregate common sense from Congress. Exceedingly rare these days.</a>

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