Tuesday, June 26, 2007

It is too darn hot

Italy is hot, too darn hot. It is too hot to move.. It is too hot to cook. You drink four five liters and .. you just sweat. When you go to the beach at 08:30 it is already too hot. So you swim, you get out, and again, it is too darn hot.

Even the computer agrees, it is too darn hot. Skype only works for a few minutes, then it overheats, it is too darn hot. So I put my brush under the computer there is now more room the heat can get out.. It is too darn hot.. To keep Skype going I have to wave air to cool the darn thing.. it is too darn hot..

It is to hot to do anything.. so I am happy that somone wrote this for me.. it is too darn hot

Love and sunshine from the Amalfi coast :-)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Elections and endorsements

Now that the endorsement period is over I can write this ...

Well three board members are going to be elected ... than you have the possibility to endorse the three you would like to see and you go through the various presentations. I found some very young people who have really great ideas and in some way they would deserve their place as well... but then you have to make a choice ... that is you need to look at people, what they are able to do, how much background information they have and how much they deal with issues that are relevant to you.

Well what is relevant to me is the support of the lesser resourced languages ... the understanding that sometimes just talk is not enough (still thinking about the double quote issue with nap.wikipedia). The fact that they can behave in such a way that they can get results. And one very important thing to me is that they are honest to themselves and do state privately the same they state publicly (and there is no difference to whether I have the same opinion or not - it is just about stating what you really believe).

So in the end my endorsements went to Erik (Eloquence), Kim and Yann. I believe all three of them are well able to deal with the "big issues" that are relevant for the huge majority and at the same time they take the time to look at our very "small issues" compared to the others, but that are considered to be really huge mountains to our small communities.

I also understand that by offering their time to the board they will not have much free time left ... so thank you for considering to donate so much of your time to the community.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

OmegaWiki a translation dictionary? By all means: no

Out of a bar entry on it.wiktionary, yes I was pointed to the bar on it.wikt, I understand that most people see OmegaWiki just as a translation dictionary. But: if you feel like that, then you did not look properly at it.

At this stage entries are not really complete, but they already have a huge part of the complete functionality that is to come. This means we have:

- lemma
- definition (lemma + definition together form a Defined Meaning)

In the annotations you find all additional info like

String properties:
- example sentence
- hyphenation

Text properties:
well: this needs still some work

URL properties:
also here: still some work needed ... this is to link to other projects

Option properties:
- part of speech
- verb
- noun
- adverb
- describing word
- contraction
- article
- pronoun
- preposition
- conjunction
- interjection

Then there are
- Relations – this means to which other words the actual one is related
- Incoming relations – this is which other words relate to the actual one
- Class membership – for now with only "lexical item" in there
- Collection membership – for example: we have, just to name some, the General Multilingual Environmental Thesaurus, Destinazione Italia, OLPC Children's Dictionary, ISO 639-3 languages as collections. A list of present collections and their completion status can be found here.

Under Relations you will find the typical "narrower and wider terms" like you find them in a thesaurus for example.

What is still missing is Etymology – that one is planned, but not there right now – you will find it within the annotations.

So this is the basics of what we have now – and yes, many entries just have lemma + definition + translations, but that depends on the fact that for now we don't have all too many fans who care about the annotations :-)

But OmegaWiki is not only that ... it is already being used to create study material for students and to provide easy to read news articles for many. What does this mean, well the easiest thing is to have a look at two examples:
- http://www.positanonews.it/menu/default.asp?id=6090 for an example in Italan
- http://www.positanonews.it/menu/default.asp?id=6167 for an example in Neapolitan

You will find additional info on this theme and why we work with Positanonews in a former blog of mine: Combining projects just for fun ... and unexpected results. And a list of articles that will grow by one a week is maintained on OmegaWiki.

During the Holland Open Gerard showed the articles to some people and also other universities started about tagging their materials in such a way for their respective students.

This is just one of the many additional uses of the OmegaWiki data – maybe we will explain about the others in a separate post. It would be somewhat an overkill to put all in one article.

There is also another part of the post in the bar on it.wikt that needs an answer ... well people assumed that even if I work mainly on OmegaWiki I don't care about Wiktionary anymore ... that is more a kind of a personal question and not a factual one – so it will be answered separately.

Resignation as Bureaucrat and Admin from it.wiktionary ...

... or: when things get crazy and you have to draw a line

I still remember my first steps on it.wiktionary ... 16th of June 2004, yes, exactly three years ago – the first term I edited was lunedì (Monday). The almost only user that was seen online in these days was Paulo. He wanted to pull up the project, but shortly after he saw that I took things seriously he went away.

On 30th August 2004 the idea of an universal Wiktionary was born – thanks to Gerard Meijssen who then created articles of languages with loads of templates in there – well... the whole story would be too much now, but thanks to some misunderstandings and a following very long skype conversation today we have OmegaWiki.

The Italian wiktionary was always subject to loads of spam. So at a certain stage, I don't remember exactly when, I became adminship ... well the only one then working there was me, so I was the only one who could have done some clean-up.

Well the spam load got more and more and it became almost impossible for me to do good work there ... so I started to ask for help ... some registered, became admins, went away. Again I went ahead alone. If it was not for the pywikipediabot I would not have been able to add so many entries to it.wikipedia since always the main work on it was to keep it clean from spam.

Last year then I became Bureaucrat ... well I was not really present anymore, but I cared about a very particular user group that before that started to edit it.wiktionary – most of them teens, great and wonderful young people dedicating their free time to free projects. I am not naming them one by one here, because I could forget someone and I don't want to do this.

Now many of you will ask themselves why I did not immediately leave Wiktionary when I was working on OmegaWiki (time ago called Ultimate Wiktionary and then WiktionaryZ). Well ... it is a bit like with a baby ... you feed it, see it grow and then it goes, but in some way there is still part of your life connected to it.

But back to our very particular user group: they are most of all teens, partly very young, but dedicated ... and they did good. Of course not always, but it's a wiki, right? So you do what you can when you can. I admire them – they did great work. They gave part of their live to the project. A good group of them became admins – they came while others who today claim to be the only ones to be able to give rules to the project then were present, but did not care at all when I said: hey guys, I can't deal with all that anymore, I need help. No, I will never again allow people to say that the youth of this country is no good – they are great! You just need to trust them to do good and they will do it. They put their heart in it.

Now today I was called through my discussion page on OmegaWiki since someone asked for the desysop of one of the admins. He was accused of being not active, not cleaning up spam and copyviolations ... ok, so I went to the chat (yes, I have the log, but anyway it is not relevant for me anymore ... so: it doesn't make a difference to publish it). So I asked for several things, most of them not really so tragic, but a desysop to one of the most valuable people at the time he joined ... well, that was something to really talk about.

Now what I learnt is that some wikipedians (well, yes, the one asking for desysop is quite new to wiktionary) assume that when you become and admin you assume the responsibility to regularly clean up the wiki ... well I would say: this is perceived completely wrong. If the admins were paid and had to sign a contract, well then this is a different thing, but they are not – they DONATE their free time. Ok, then I got the following as the reason for "desysop": ... ma di aver lasciato wikizionario senza policy, senza controllo copyviol, senza importare decine di lemmi da altri progetti... (but to have left Wiktionary without policy, without checking copyviol, whtout importing tens of lemmas from other projects) .... UHMMMMMM ....

Is there a contract where it is written down that who is elected Admin (well, ok, Sysop) or Bureaucrat has to do this and otherwise he gets desysoped? That is plain stupid – against any sense of collaborative projects, against any sense of humanity. Another nice sentence I got in these answers was (fairly at the beginning): " invasa di bambini che giocavano, può bastare come spiegazione?" (invaded by kids who were playing, isn't this enough of an explanation?)

I can't believe it ... well maybe these teens were not perfect, but they did their best, nobody is perfect. I would very much like to remind some poeople of what the Wikimedia Foundation aims to do: provide free knowledge to all people in the world in their language.

Now does this stop with the contents or are we here as well to transmit what Free Content, Free Software, Wikis and Collaborative Projects are to people, young and old, who are new to it. Also this is a kind of education, of giving knowledge – this is social knowledge. Well it seems that some do not like to invest in their future ... because instead of starting a desysop procedure this person could have talked to them, explaining them and if the explanation would have been logic enough they probably would have agreed and co-operated. But now? How can people feel good to work in such an environment? Does this really reflect the community spirit? I would clearly say: no.

I am not willing to co-operate in future on it.wiktionary since obviously under these circumstances I cannot be of any help. Therefore I resign from my being Bureaucrat and Sysop on the Italian Wiktionary. It is sad and part of my life is in that project ... I don't want to see it die ... it would be too much. So: I am not going to go back there ... well with two exeptions, one of which is: just my user page will contain a link to this article and to the place where people can find me if they want to talk to me – that's all.

One word to the new Amdins and Bureaucrats: according to what I learnt from the chat today it seems you signed for some kind of a contract by being elected Admin or Bureaucrat. I will have a look in one years time and hopefully you will all be there happily doing what you are expected to do ... well: it is a responsibility you took according to your new policies ... so the project is waiting for you – people are expecting you to do your job now.

There would be so much more to say .... please, if you work on other projects: don't follow this example – it destroys the community. We need to build community, bring over the spirit of free projects, of all free projects. The teens of today will be among the best editors of tomorrow. Never consider a kid, even a 5 year old, to be too young to do something – they are all well able, if they have an interest and they want to do. Trust them to do good. They need it – they are our very own future.

And to the editors who worked on it.wiktionary during my short period ... well during the last three years: thank you so much for your efforts and help – and a very special thanks to our young ones – I find it really special that you dedicate your free time to free projects ... like I already said: you are our future and the day will come, if it is not already here, that we will learn from you.

Thanks for your attention. And yes, of course: you will always find me on the Neapolitan Wikipedia but mainly working on the connection of various free projects in order to maximise results with the donations in time people give us. Yes, we must value each minute highly.

Thank you!!!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Combining projects just for fun ... and unexpected results

The story ;-)

Well time ago, when we started to work on the Destinazione Italia project with OmegaWiki I understood that professors at the University of Bamberg need free news, but they need it tagged in such a way that the studends can easily look up words with definitions and translations.

Then some weeks ... well a couple of months ago ... I wrote my first article about the tuna cages that are planned in Cetara, near Maiori, on the Italian Wikinews which lead to a contact with Maria Rosaria Sannino from eCostiera since she received the article through google alert.

Well yes, we then made an appointment at the Bar Pineta with some other people from Agorà and Positanonews. That is where I met the director of Positanonews and understood that he is a very likeminded person, thinking very open and Open Content without really referring to it. So a natural Open Source person here on the coast ... that is indeed rare.

I started to take the headlines of Positanonews for the Costiera Amalfitana Wikia and I was offered to simply use the contents I prefer ... well, no, I don't do that, I prefer to link to it and not double contents ... well yes, during the next days I will need to work on the Wikia ... I did not have much time these days and still don't have much ...

Comunication with Michele Cinque and his team developed really well and we reached two very particular results with this - on one hand a news section in Neapolitan language and on the other facilitated reading articles (the list is maintained on OmegaWiki ... another one will be added by today).

The facilitated reading articles resulted from two things:

  • the need to link Neapolitan words to a dictionary in order to help people to understand the words and
  • the need of the University of Bamberg, that is news with links to the terminology so that students can read them more easily and have this terminology in such a fashion that it can be easily exported from a database
Most of you know me quite well ... sometimes I just do things to show what is possible and then all sorts of not calculated, that is unexpected results derive from what I do.

So I created my first "Easy to read" article to show it to Martin ... now he really likes the idea and we are going ahead to do this adding one article a week. This means three very different groups of people are now connected to produce open contents for the community (in alphabetical order):
  • OmegaWiki
  • Positanonews
  • University of Bamberg
Yesterday I took a first article from the Italian Wikinews (if you are from Wikinews, please have a look if attribution is ok in this way) which still needs to be taggen, to have some free content on national and international news in Italian with a free license, since of course Positanonews is centered mainly on regional news and all that comes from outside cannot be released under a free license unless the author does not agree to it. So we can add also Wikinews to the list above and we really have a good mix of projects from various sectors that all have the same spirit. Do as much work in the Open Source world as possible and give access to information and education to people.

Now you are eventually asking yourself why I chose this combination: well it was not chosen, it happened, just because people are open minded, have the spirit to pay it forward and do not only think about their own needs and wishes.

So thanks to all contributors from (in alphabetical order):

There will be other unexpected results ... they are already on their way ... and when time is due I will tell you about it.