Who doesn’t love Wikipedia?

Definitely an important part of the online world…..


Wikipedia – one of the most used sites on the web at #7



Wikipedia stats (Sept 2014)

33.5 million articles (4.7 million in English; Swedish is next largest 1.94 mill, followed by Dutch 1.79 mill then German 1.73 mill.)

287 languages

English articles equivalent to 2058 volumes of Britannica

8.7 million views per hour (English)

793 new articles per day in English  – down from peaks of over 1500 in 2006/2007.

Active volunteer editors – declining. 3000 editors make 100 changes a month (English) – down from 4 700 in 2007.






Who edits Wikipedia?

Wikipedians write and edit pages. They do it because they like volunteering to share knowledge and believe that information should be freely available – it’s also fun. A study into editor gender bias revealed 84% of English Wikipedia editors are male (91% globally). 20% of editors are from the US; the top 10 editor countries are all either Nth America or Europe, except for India. Age distribution – 59% are 17-40 yrs; 28% are 40+.



Harvard hires a Wikipedia editor to be its ‘Wikipedian in Residence’

In March, the Houghton Library at Harvard advertised a 12 week position for an experienced Wikipedia editor to write and improve articles for Wikipedia and to upload some of its own archives into Wikimedia, the parent organisation of Wikipedia. The Houghton Library focuses on rare and older books and it is hoped that there will be more use of their collections, whilst Wikipedia will get enhanced content. Wikimedia has been encouraging liaisons such as this for several years and many institutions have participated – eg. US National Archives, British Library, Smithsonian Archives. Harvard has also hosted ‘edit-a-thons’ for Wikipedia. During Science Week in August, Australia’s first “Wikibomb” sessions were held, where Wikipedia entries about leading female scientists were added.




Paid editors on Wikipedia

Would you trust it any more or less if you knew people were being paid to contribute content? Since August, Wikipedia  allows paid contributors to make changes, as long as they disclose their affiliations. Critics dislike paid editors, as it conflicts with Wikipedia’s core editing policy of neutrality – but of course, PR people are already “wikiwashing” entries for companies, politicians and others.




Bots as authors and editors on Wikipedia

Sverker Johansson in Sweden has contributed 2.7 million articles to Wikipedia – more than anyone else – but most of his entries have been created by a software program (bot). His program searches digital resources and packages the information into an article. Increasing amounts of new content on Wikipedia is now written by bots.


Fear not – Wikipedia’s robots patrol 24/7 to kill vandalism: http://www.theverge.com/2014/2/18/5412636/this-machine-kills-trolls-how-wikipedia-robots-snuff-out-vandalism


Are Wikipedia’s days numbered?

New editors are hard to retain. Are there too many rules for them? Will Wikipedia adapt to Google Glass and translation services? The format is a bit dated now – should it be redesigned?



ALIA ACT Wikipedia and libraries information evening Mon 24 Nov in Canberra

What do Wikipedia and libraries have in common? How can libraries and Wikimedia Aust. work together?


Good films

Some good films – excellent for sci-fi, physics, sociology, psychology, history and just for fun…



Currently screening. Directed by Christopher Nolan (Inception, Batman, The Prestige). Stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine. A team of explorers and scientists leave a resource-depleted Earth and travel through a wormhole in search of a new habitable planet. Physicist Kip Thorne, an expert in Einstein’s general theory of relativity, was the scientific consultant and executive producer, ensuring that depictions of wormholes and relativity were as accurate as possible. Computer effects artists based the visual effects on Thorne’s equations and their work provided Thorne with new insight into black holes that will lead to 2 scientific papers (one in astrophysics; one in computer graphics). Music score by Hans Zimmer.

4 and a half stars from David and 3 from Margaret. David: “…a tremendously exciting space adventure …and also a rich and thoughtful meditation on time and space and gravity”.

“Brainy, barmy and beautiful to behold … a mind-bending opera of space and time with a soul wrapped up in all the science” (James Dyer – Empire mag).





The imitation game

Directed by Morten Tyldum. Stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley. Adapted from the novel Alan Turing: the enigma by Andrew Hodges. Based on the true story of English mathematician, logician and computer scientist Alan Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Bletchley Park, who helped crack the German Enigma code during WW2. As well as being a espionage thriller, the film follows  Turing’s life from school until his untimely death and how he was forced to hide his homosexuality. Opens 1 Jan 2015. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2084970/?ref_=tt_rec_tt

Viewers are impressed, especially with Cumberbatch – an Oscar-worthy film: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2084970/reviews?ref_=tt_urv


Turing is credited as being the inventor of the digital computer, his body of work helped form the basis for artificial intelligence and he made major contributions to cognitive science, artificial life and mathematics. Turing’s story is tragic – in 1952 he was arrested and tried for homosexuality, which was then a criminal offence, and lost his security clearance. He was sentenced to 12 months of hormone “therapy” to “treat” his homosexuality and died in 1954, probably by suicide. Prime Minister Gordon Brown officially apologised in 2009 and Queen Elizabeth issued a formal pardon in 2013. The government however, will not provide posthumous pardons for the other 49 000 men also sentenced under the law.





Particle fever

Directed by Mark Levinson, the documentary was shot over 7 years. It follows the inside story of 6 physicists at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland and their discovery of the elusive Higgs boson –  the last undetected particle predicted by the Big Bang Theory. Reviewers have praised the film for making theoretical arguments comprehensible and for making scientific experiments thrilling – and for making particle physicists seem human! Women physicists also feature strongly. Opens 27 Nov 2014. 5 stars from the NY Times:




The 100 best sci-fi movies

An excellent site – chosen by sci-fi experts, filmmakers, sci-fi writers, film critics and scientists. Includes a summary, best quote, big idea and trailer for each film, with comments from the experts and other contributors. Good site for a class discussion on the top 10 etc Here’s some from the top 10 – Blade runner, Brazil, Metropolis, 2001, The terminator, Alien,  Star wars. Maybe you can guess #1? But Iron Man at #70?!


Quick list: http://www.timeout.com/london/film/the-100-best-sci-fi-movies-full-list


Superhero comic book movies from now till 2019!

Superhero films with many crossover characters will fill cinemas over the next 5 years. Marvel/Disney has announced 9 movies and Warner/DC Comics has announced 10 interlinked superhero films. Get ready for Captain America 3, Ant-Man, Dr Strange, Thor 3, Black Panther, The Avengers 3, Batman vs Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash..…Includes Inhumans  – descendants of prehistoric genetic experiments who have lived apart from humans ever since using their own advanced technologies. Warner Bros also announced 3 Lego movies and 3 Harry Potter spinoffs – based on J.K. Rowling’s novella Fantastic beasts and where to find them. She is also writing the screenplays. Who will knock The Avengers and The Dark Knight from the top of the superhero box office charts?



ebooks, printed books and libraries

Print books outsold ebooks in first half of 2014 in the US

Nielsen Books and Consumer survey – paperbacks 42% of sales; hardcovers 25%; ebooks 23%. Will paper books and ebooks coexist peacefully in the future? “A healthy, diverse marketplace with multiple format, price point, and channel choices for the consumer is generally a positive for readers, authors, and publishers overall” (Steinberger; Perseus Books). Stephen King: print books have a bright future – “books are going to be here for a long, long time”.



Yes we still love print!

The 2 second-hand bookfairs held by Lifeline in the ACT during 2014 were the most successful ever (and the biggest in Australia). It’s a great way for the community to recycle their books and support a great cause!


Nieuwe Bibliotheek (New Library) in Almere, Netherlands

Faced with declining visitors, traditional methods of library organisation were discarded in 2010 and a retail model was followed. Books are now grouped by area of interest with fiction and non fiction combined and many face-out displays. The library is a Seats2meet (S2M) location where people connect with each other in exchange for a free workspace. It also has a gaming facility, a reading garden and a large events program. And of course it has a café! It is now considered one of the most innovative libraries in the world and is the most successful cultural organisation in Almere – showing that “a physical public library has a right to exist in the future and will not disappear by increasing digitization and the internet” (Roy Paes).



Ebook readers on the way out

Forrester Research World eReader Adoption Forecast 2014-2019 predicts the death of the eReader as its functions are absorbed by other devices such as smartphones and tablets. Global sales peaked in 2011 but will decline steadily through 2019. Why carry another device? Ebook spending will continue to grow. Kindles have great battery life, but even Amazon will invest in newer devices like wearables, 3D printers and drones.




Kindle Unlimited

Amazon has launched its Kindle Unlimited ebook & audiobook subscription service, following its US debut in July. It will have an emphasis on bestsellers with unlimited access to more than 650 000 ebooks and 2000 audiobooks for eight pounds per month. Authors will be paid each time someone reads more than 10% of one of their books (roughly $2 per unit). http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/sep/24/amazon-kindle-unlimited-ebooks-uk


“The fate of our literary culture is sealed” – Will Self

Deep, serious reading and writing is under threat from the digital revolution – it is clear, however, that digital media and the web will lead to new forms of learning, memory, understanding and even consciousness. The majority of the text currently read in the technologically advanced world is already digitised – the book is in “desperate, riffling retreat” and half of today’s revenue from British book sales goes to Amazon. We no longer have to rely on our memories to analyse or find new information – we have outsourced our mental operations to algorithms owned by money-making companies such as Google et al.