In the media
Wikipedia wins Princess of Asturias Prize; printing out Wikipedia; HTTPS switch
Wikipedia wins prestigious Princess of Asturias Prize
Emblem of the Princess of Asturias Foundation
The Princess of Asturias Foundation announced that Wikipedia would be the recipient of the 2015 Princess of Asturias award in the category of International Cooperation. The International Cooperation award is presented annually "on the individual, institution, group of individuals or institutions whose work with another or others in areas such as public health, universal education, environmental protection and social and economic development, among others, constitutes an outstanding contribution at the international level." Wikipedia was one of 24 nominees in the category, a group that also included UNESCO, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, and the European Space Agency. Previous winners include the Fulbright Program, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, and the World Health Organization. In a statement responding to the news, Wikimedia Foundation executive director Lila Tretikov said "Wikipedia is an incredible project that has been created by millions of people from around the world. We are honored to be recognized in the category of international cooperation, which is at the heart of our mission. This award honors those volunteers - the editors, photographers, writers, and developers - who make Wikipedia possible”. The awards will be presented in a ceremony this fall in Oviedo, Asturias, Spain.
The title of Prince or Princess of Asturias is held by the heir to the Spanish throne. The awards were first presented in 1981 as the Prince of Asturias Awards. Last year, upon on the elevation of the prince, now King Felipe VI of Spain, the awards were renamed for his daughter, Princess Leonor. The awards are currently presented in seven other categories: Arts, Communications and Humanities, Concord, Literature, Social Sciences, Sports, Technical and Scientific Research. Winners are presented with a sculpture designed by renowned Spanish artist Joan Miró.
Printing out Wikipedia
One of the volumes of Print Wikipedia
New York City's Denny Gallery will feature an unusual exhibition by Michael Mandiberg (Theredproject), Wikipedia editor and Professor at the College of Staten Island, from June 18 to July 20. The exhibition, From Aaaaa! to ZZZap!, is part of Mandiberg's larger project, Print Wikipedia. As the gallery describes it:
||Print Wikipedia is a both a utilitarian visualization of the largest accumulation of human knowledge and a poetic gesture towards the futility of the scale of big data. Mandiberg has written software that parses the entirety of the English-language Wikipedia database and programmatically lays out thousands of volumes, complete with covers, and then uploads them for print-on-demand. Built on what is likely the largest appropriation ever made, it is also a work of found poetry that draws attention to the sheer size of the encyclopedia’s content and the impossibility of rendering Wikipedia as a material object in fixed form: Once a volume is printed it is already out of date. The work is also a reflection on the actual transparency or completeness of knowledge containers and history.
Mandiberg is using the print-on-demand company Lulu.com. During the exhibition, his Mac Mini will upload 11 gigabytes of compressed data from Wikipedia to Lulu.com, whose upload page will be projected onto the gallery wall. The upload process is expected to take two weeks. While the entirety of Wikipedia would fill some 7600 volumes, only 106 will be printed and available for sale. Spines for all the volumes will appear on the walls of the gallery, as if it were lined with bookshelves filled with volumes of Wikipedia. Mandiberg told the New York Times “We don’t need to see the whole thing in order to understand how big it is. Even if we just have one bookshelf, our human brains can finish the rest." He said to the Washington Post "They’re really great as a kind of marker of volume. Like...you understand what a novel is or, 'There’s this many volumes of books;' you understand what that is."
He explained to the Post, "One of threads in my work has been appropriation and authorship and exploring what kind of meanings change as things are copied and transformed. One of the things I’m interested in, in this appropriation process, is trying to find the move, the smallest move that I can make that transforms work into something different and adds new meaning."
Wikimedia's HTTPS switch
Tech media was abuzz after the Wikimedia Foundation's June 12 announcement that HTTPS will be used to encrypt traffic on all Wikimedia projects (see Signpost coverage). Forbes wrote "Wikipedia’s half billion users can now browse the online crowd-sourced encyclopedia with fewer concerns about government censorship and surveillance." TechCrunch wrote: "The decision, [the Foundation] says, will make it harder for governments and other third parties to monitor users' traffic, and will make it more difficult for [ISPs] to censor access to specific Wikipedia articles or other information hosted on its network of sites." The Electronic Frontier Foundation congratulated Wikipedia and noted it was joining others, including Bing, Reddit, and the FBI, with similar policies. The headline in The Verge joked that "Soon, your embarrassing Wikipedia searches will be encrypted".
- Taiwan election battle: The Want China Times reports on the "online battle" on the Chinese Wikipedia between supporters of Tsai Ing-wen and Hung Hsiu-chu, presidential candidates in the Taiwanese general election, 2016. (June 18)
- China censorship: On the Huffington Post, Charlie Smith, co-founder of GreatFire, an organization which monitors Internet censorship in China, writes about the blocking of Wikipedia in that country. (June 18)
- "A very small instance" of Wikipedia plagiarism: Metro Canada reports that the Calgary Board of Education has apologized for plagiarizing the Wikipedia article on Nelson Mandela in a press release announcing the naming of a new Nelson Mandela High School. Metro quoted a former English teacher as dismissing the plagiarism because it was not for monetary or personal gain: "If this would constitute plagiarism, it would be a very small instance of it." One wonders if he'd have the same opinion if he heard it from students turning in assignments to him. (June 17)
- Wales on the tech scene: Jimmy Wales was on hand for the launch of Tech.London, a new website to promote technology entrepreneurship. In an interview with CNBC, Wales lamented the lack of women working in technology. He said "For me it's such an important thing we all encourage [more women] in an industry that frankly is disastrous in its proportion." The Evening Standard reported Wales' praise of London's technology scene over that of other locales. "No one wants to live in Silicon Valley, it’s dreadful out there. I’m very happy not to have to live there," he said. (June 16-17)
- Disclosure: The blog Wiki Strategies uncovered undisclosed conflict of interest editing by an employee of the prominent public relations firm Sunshine Sachs. The editor has since posted a prominent disclosure on his user page. (June 16)
- Down the memory hole?: In the Kyiv Post, Halya Coynash of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group reports that the Russian Wikipedia has deleted the article on Alexander Byvshev, the poet added to the Russian government’s list of terrorists and extremists for penning verse opposed to the Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. (June 15)
- Wikipedia hoax: In The Kernel, Kevin Morris writes about the Yuri Gadyukin hoax, which he hyperbolically calls "the greatest Wikipedia hoax ever pulled". Articles about and related to a fictional Soviet filmmaker were created to support a still-unreleased independent film, Nitrate. Morris previously wrote about the hoax for The Daily Dot when it was uncovered in 2013 (see previous Signpost coverage). (June 14)
- Teaching Wikipedia: The Daily Mail reports on a row about a plan by the Leicester City Council to pay an "IT expert" £30,000 to teach secondary school students how to "critically engage" with Wikipedia. A council spokesman said "Wikipedia is a really important and useful source of information for everyone, especially pupils." The Mail cited two conservative pressure groups, TaxPayers’ Alliance and Campaign for Real Education, complaining about the plan, with a representative of the latter saying "This is a complete waste of money. Wikipedia is an intellectual crutch, often full of mistakes, and encouraging pupils to rely on it does not help them." (June 13)
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