: “Nature.com decided to to see how Wikipedia would fare against the Encyclopedia Britannica. Working from a statistically small sample of , the results show that the two are closer than many would assume. On average, Wikipedia had 33 percent more errors, with 162 ‘factual errors, omissions or misleading statements, ‘ as compared to 123 for Britannica. In terms of egregious errors involving inaccurately explained concepts or misinterpretations of data, the experts found four instances in each of the two encyclopedias. Of course, what constitutes a major error is often in the eye of the beholder.

The most error-strewn article, that on Dmitry Mendeleev, co-creator of the periodic table, illustrates this. Michael Gordin, a science historian at Princeton University who wrote a 2004 book on Mendeleev, identified 19 errors in Wikipedia and 8 in Britannica. These range from minor mistakes, such as describing Mendeleev as the 14th child in his family when he was the 13th, to more significant inaccuracies. Wikipedia, for example, incorrectly describes how Mendeleev’s work relates to that of British chemist John Dalton. ‘Who wrote this stuff?’ asked another reviewer. ‘Do they bother to check with experts?’

Depending on your point of view, this is either a great win for Wikipedia, or proof that it is sub-standard as compared to Britannica. The fact of the matter is that with only 42 articles reviewed, there’s not much to go on either way.”

Actually, that’s a lot better a result for Wikipedia than I would have expected. But then, with hindsight it does make more sense. Areas where there are considerably less articles or articles with less content are not the technology or science ones, but sociology, art, philosophy and ‘soft’ topics where the interested parties are less likely to be tech-heads hardwired into the net.

technorati tags: ,

With a bit of luck we’re back to our normal blogging schedule, which means more regular updates than a whole batch of them once every week. There’ll still be a huge batch of updates to come from last week, not to mention a series of photos that I’ve still not uploaded to Flickr. Doing all of that is probably going to take me a couple of days.

Unlike last week, this time I’ll be blogging events in set order, but I’ll begin probably be working backwards.

Photos are a different matter, I’ve got old photos going back to the Pratchett signing.

This week’s schedule? Who knows for sure? Certainly not me. But I know that I’m in the UK at least for the next couple of days.

On a techy note, I’ll be trailing over the next few weeks, since gives pre-analysed web-traffic data in an undownloadable format.

Virtual land flogged for over $50k: “US gamer Jon Jacobs, known to gamers as Neverdie, has bought an in-game space resort for over $50,000.

Project Entropia is the MMO brainchild of Swedish developer Mindark PE AB. Players can exchange money for game currency at a conversion rate of $10 fictional to $1 US. Having sold for $100,000 US the fictional environment will provide a substantial stream of real life financial income, as it has apartments, mines, hunting grounds and many markets from which to extract hard earned Entropia dollars from other players.

Jacobs is now the owner of an in game PA system and in control of advertising around the station. This means that substantial revenue could be generated from real life advertising to in-game players and presents an interesting take on advertising in games.

This tops the game’s previous record sale of a detailed treasure island to an Australian in December of 2004. At the time the $26,500 sale was the largest virtual real estate sale ever. Since then, Project Entropia has swelled to more than 236,000 registered players. With an ever increasing player base these auctions will only become more heated, as the prospective financial gain grows through both advertising and in-game selling. “

technorati tags: , ,

A couple of interesting toys Ive found. The first one is the GMail Drive shell extension. GMail Drive is a Shell Namespace Extension that creates a virtual filesystem around your Google Gmail account, allowing you to use Gmail as a storage medium. [It] creates a virtual filesystem on top of your Google Gmail account and enables you to save and retrieve files stored on your Gmail account directly from inside Windows Explorer. GMail Drive literally adds a new drive to your computer under the My Computer folder, where you can create new folders, copy and drag’n’drop files to.

Definitely a unique idea, though utterly pointless unless you have quite a fast net connection. My ideal implementation of it would be to have the shell extension work from a USB drive, that way you could have direct file access to everything youve stored in your Gmail account.

Dont have a Gmail account? Let me know, and if I know you, you can have an invite!

As for the other thing, its more of a clever technique rather than a toy. The idea is to use Flickr to store files using steganography. According to this article, Flickr isnt doing any checking for embedded files. The upside is that you can use your Flickr account for excess storage or covertly passing files. Im sure it wont be long before Flickr inhibits this though. Firstly, image file sizes will shoot up and secondly steganographic methods are used by organised crime groups who encrypt files, embed them in images and then send the images. The image looks identical and its possible to embed in such a way that the information doesnt show in an images EXIF tag. Voila, the encrypted file is invisible.

We all like music, if you’re reading this you have an internet connection, we of course have a desire to obey copyright law, we hate copy-controlled music downloads and we resent having to pay £6.99 for an ‘album’ of music from a legal download site when we could probably get it cheaper on Amazon.

So what’s the alternative? Well a Russian site, is selling tracks for $0.10 each with 10% off if you buy a full album. Sounds dodgy? Sure. But is it legal? Amusingly yes. Or at least it will be for another year until the Russian Federation changes it’s laws to appease the RIAA and other similar groups.

The legal loophole is that Russian law counts the internet as a broadcast medium, in the same bracket as radio. And if it’s broadcast the company doesn’t have to ask the permission of the copyright holder to broadcast it, they just have to make royalties available to them. This means it’s possible to buy Beatles tracks (illegal outside of the UK) as well as Metallica (who only license their music to be sold by album, not individual tracks), both of which cannot be found on US or European legal music download sites.

Couple this with the fact that in the UK, US and elsewhere it is the distributor of the music who breaches copyright, the consumer is entirely legally entitled to the music they download from MP3Search as long as they don’t share it with anybody else.

And the risk of credit card fraud? Well the company has been going for over a year and there have been no reports of fraud, but apparently (I’ve yet to verify this) it’s possible to buy gift vouchers through a trusted source and use those instead of giving the company your credit card number.

I’ll certainly be giving this a go. Apparently the library is massively extensive and vastly more reliable than some of the more… illicit music download options. Alledgedly. I heard.

Update (April ’06): Well, I’ve been successfully using mp3search.ru for a number of months now and I’m still very happy with it. No fraud, no performance issues and loads of DRM-free, legal, cheap MP3 downloads. The site is weak when it comes to audiobooks but very strong when it comes to new content. And I do prefer actually owning the MP3 rather than renting it via Napster.
There are only about four months left in this site, as the law in Russia changes then, but until then it’s worth it for topping up your music collection. And at about $1.50 per album you’d be silly not to.

And goodbye to the license for . The experiment didn’t last long, and to be honest it wouldn’t have even got off the ground had I done more research first instead of listening to the . (Sidenote: is particularly prone to techno-utopianism, especially when it comes to copyright. It’s understandable as Wikipedia is, as a whole, a techno-utopian project, but it’s not very encyclopaedic when there is no criticism to be found of techno-utopianism or the Creative Commons idea, while there is much criticism of traditional copyright.)

So I did a little more research with the help of and Google. The key problem with the CC license is that a) it is irrevocable, meaning that it can never be fully copyrighted in the future and also that it can never be fully released into the public domain; and b) that the author loses control of who references the work and under what circumstances. An example from a Reg article:
Take this example. A Linux advocacy group emails me to ask permission for a reprint of an article, and I’m delighted to grant it. The Daily Express asks for permission, and I tell them where to shove it. Now that’s a freedom I don’t have by adding an unnecessary license to my work. Now let’s say the Linux advocacy group has been taken over by people I don’t like. It asks for another reprint. I can change my mind, of course, but that’s because I haven’t signed over my rights under an irrevocable license. (And very few people tagging their work with Creative Commons licenses seem to realize that they’re irrevocable).
In other words, if I copyright Lethe, not only do I retain control of what people do with it, but it is my decision if I ever release it fully into the public domain or, (and I’m under no illusions that this is likely, just so we’re clear here) I enjoy some kind of commercial success.

Some changes to this blog. Firstly, for the benefit of random passers-by and friends from my LiveJournal days, I’ve allowed all viewers to comment blog posts, rather than just registered Blogger users.

Secondly, I found a new tool for updating the blog. It’s called Blogger for Word and it’s quite a useful tool. It adds a toolbar to MS Word, allowing you to post directly from it. This may well replace mail2blog for me as my main posting tool. It can be downloaded here.
Update: While I can make it work with Word 2000 and Word XP, I can’t seem to get it to work with Word 2003. How annoying.
Update 2: It seems this tool does work with Word 2003 after all, it just didn’t work for me on the first try. Oh well.


Finally, as you can probably tell from the tags I’ve added to old posts, I’ve joined Technorati. Technorati is an internet search engine/community of web logs and one of the tools they provide is the tagging of blog posts for easier searching. I’ll see how it goes, tagging is currently a manual process in Blogger, but it’s no great shakes.

Oh, and I now use Bloglines to aggregate my newsfeeds, so that I now when various blogs and news sites have updated without having to visit them all.

Technorati tag: