Monday, September 04, 2006

Lomax; Wikipedia Research; Paperbacks; APA Style; Greek Mythology Test

Labor Day Weekend entailed labor, specifically climbing up the ladder and doing a bunch of paint scraping. Other than cursing the inventor of paint, here are a few other things that have occupied my brain lately:
  • I'm watching just finished a very good documentary (which I taped off of PBS a couple of weeks ago) called Lomax: The Songhunter about the career of Alan Lomax. Mr. Lomax and his father John both traveled across America with recording equipment on behalf of the Library of Congress to capture native folk music on various kinds of recordings. (Alan expanded and captured recordings abroad, as well.) Much of his work can be found here. This is a guy whose full biography I would love to read, but I don't think one has been written yet. They showed portions of an interview he did in 1991 or so with CBS. Excerpt (My transcription): I think our job is to represent all the submerged cultures in the world. I mean you and your CBS and all the big amusement industries represent a way of silencing everybody, you know? Communication was supposed to be two-way, but it’s turned out to be basically one-way. From those people who can afford to own a transmitter, which costs a few million dollars, to the little guy that can afford to own a receiver that costs a few bucks. So there are millions of receivers and people at the other end, and only a few transmitters, and I think that is one of the major, if not the major human problems now, because everybody is off the air. Mr. Lomax died in 2002, and had suffered some sort of stroke or something several years before his death. It breaks my heart that he never got to see the Blogosphere thrive, nor take part in it.
  • Via Boing Boing, here's an article by a guy who is running for the Wikimedia Board of Directors. he did some research as to how many people contribute to Wikipedia articles and in what ways, in part to challenge the methodology of a study done on that topic by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. He used the article on Alan Alda as a point of departure. Excerpt: To investigate more formally, I purchased some time on a computer cluster and downloaded a copy of the Wikipedia archives. I wrote a little program to go through each edit and count how much of it remained in the latest version. Instead of counting edits, as Wales did, I counted the number of letters a user actually contributed to the present article. If you just count edits, it appears the biggest contributors to the Alan Alda article (7 of the top 10) are registered users who (all but 2) have made thousands of edits to the site. Indeed, #4 has made over 7,000 edits while #7 has over 25,000. In other words, if you use Wales's methods, you get Wales's results: most of the content seems to be written by heavy editors. But when you count letters, the picture dramatically changes: few of the contributors (2 out of the top 10) are even registered and most (6 out of the top 10) have made less than 25 edits to the entire site. In fact, #9 has made exactly one edit -- this one! With the more reasonable metric -- indeed, the one Wales himself said he planned to use in the next revision of his study -- the result completely reverses. I don't have the resources to run this calculation across all of Wikipedia (there are over 60 billion edits!), but I ran it on several more randomly-selected articles and the results were much the same. For example, the largest portion of the Anaconda article was written by a user who only made 2 edits to it (and only 100 on the entire site). By contrast, the largest number of edits were made by a user who appears to have contributed no text to the final article (the edits were all deleting things and moving things around).
  • Interesting pulp paperback covers.
  • APA formatting and style guide. Citation style here, official site here. I'm going to be helping The ♥G♥ proof some of her papers as she finishes her degree this fall and winter.
  • Via Bookworm, here's the Greek Mythology Personality Test. Some of this applies to me, some does not:

The Oracle

0% Extroversion, 100% Intuition, 27% Emotiveness, 100% Perceptiveness

Heuristic, detached, and analytical to a fault, you are most like The Oracle. You are able to tackle any subject with a fine toothed comb, and you possess an ability to pinpoint nuances and shades of meaning that other people do not have and cannot understand. Accomplishment and realization of ideas are, for you, secondary to the rigorous exploration of ideas and questions -- you are, first and foremost, a theorist. You hate authority, convention, tradition, and under no circumstances do you accept a leadership role (although, you will gladly advise leadership when they're going astray, whether they want you to or not). Abstraction and generalities are your interests, details and particulars are usually inconsequential and uninteresting. You excel at language, mathematics and philosophy. You are typically easy-going and non-confrontational until someone violates one of the very few principles that you deem sacred, at which point you can fly into a rage. Although you possess a much greater understanding of process and systems than the people around you, you are always conscious of the possibility that you've missed something or made a mistake. You don't tend to become attached to particular theories, and will immediately discard mistaken notions once they're revealed to be incorrect (but you don't tolerate iconoclasts who try to discredit validated theories through the use of fallacies and bad data). Despite being outwardly humble, you probably think of yourself as being smarter than most other people. That's because you are. In fact, in your dealings with people your understanding of their motives is so expansive that you know what they're going to say before they say it, and in world affairs, you usually know what is going to take place before it actually does. This ability would make you unbeatable in debates if only you were a little less pensive about your own conclusions, and a little more outgoing.

Famous people like you: Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, John McWhorter, Ramanujan, Marie Curie, Kurt Godel

Stay clear of: Apollo, Icarus, Hermes, Aphrodite

Seek out: Atlas, Prometheus, Daedalus


Post a Comment

<< Home