Archive for Wikipedia

Marshaling the Marching Morons: a Note on the Wikipedia Stunt

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 21, 2012 by spinoza1111

Jimbo Wales with false modesty is pretending again to be some sort of benefactor of humanity with his stupid and dangerous 19 January stunt: bringing wikipedia down, thereby endangering in an unknown and unpredictable fashion any automated system, anywhere in the world, that includes shells or scripts that assume it’s available, and access a dataset in text form that’s stored on wikipedia.

And from behind computer screens, world wide, the Techie Troglodytes cheer him on with an audible rattling of real chains.

Consider that the unemployed software engineer needs to get off his ass, and sit neither at home nor in Starbucks, and instead haul ass to interviews and live conferences to get a new job. That’s how I got a new job in 2000: I hauled ass to the VSLive conference and the Microsoft Author’s Conference. I worked as an unpaid volunteer at VSLive and took the bus to and from Seattle, to and from Chicago, to get to the Author’s conference.

In a remarkably similar way, #Occupy taught us that we the 99% will only get the attention of the people whom we called the pigs in the 1960s and are referred to today as the 1% by putting the human body on the line.

But, of course, a necessary part of the techie subconscious is a deep shame about and hatred of the human body. To the extent that before 1981, as I slowly became fatter and fatter, I was accounted a great tech: as soon as I started running, despite the fact that running improves learning and concentration, my reputation as a tech suffered.

While Facebook has been a part (but only a part) of true revolutions beginning with Tunisia, note that Facebook is about our ability as bodies to communicate in a capitalist system that in countless ways needs to keep us separate. All other tech ventures have net out to a decline in our ability to meaningfully control our lives.

However, the insiders at Apple, Google and the other ventures seek to enrich only themselves and in this venture, they have found it convenient since 1980 to tell a story of personal liberation through technology that’s completely at odds with the facts.

Stunts like “bringing wikipedia down” merely endanger thousands of systems world wide that include shells and scripts that link to wikipedia, and similar stunts like “bring Google down” magnify this danger.

The tech 1% including Wales are trying to delude the tech 99% by persuading them that by sitting on their fucking ass, eating junk food, and making trouble online will change a god damned thing. This is because conforming to SOPA and PIPA would actually be easy; these laws, which are job creators, apply to foreign sites and would be trumped in the USA by the First Amendment in an obvious way. Under the Constitution, a Chinese pirate has no First Amendment protection.

But despite the fact that such conformance would be easy, tech CEOs hate doing anything not directly related to the bottom line, such as designing a system to discover the origin of content which appears to match a copyrighted document…such a system can rely on IP addresses.

So they marshal marching morons.

On Wikipedia’s Stunt: Open Letter to Jimmy Wales

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 19, 2012 by spinoza1111

Peter Blume, The Rock, 1944

With false modesty after 19 January’s Wikipedia stunt (which I believe was a serious risk to world computing, and set a precedent for further such stunts), Jimmy Wales is breaking his arm patting himself on his back.

I’ve posted this comment at Jimmy Wales’ blog. It’s under moderation and may never appear.

Comment:

Actually, Jimbo, I am making a post to comp.risks (Association for Computing Machinery, Forum on Risks to the Public) concerning your stunt.

By bringing down a facility that is widely used, not only by human beings but also by automated tools, you endangered the Internet.

It might not be good practice for a shell or script procedure to contact wikipedia to update a data base from the numerous tables of information provided by “your” site (which as you’ll be the first to admit, is really “ours”, the 99% who, working as virtual slave labor, built it and were bullied by the editors you seem to have retained commencing in 2006).

But given my own thirty years of experience in software, this happens all the time, and many incompetent programmers fail to check status or availability. Their shells and scripts would not turn Javascript off and would go unexpectedly to the special black screen, causing a failure.

Since in all probability thousands of such shells and scripts exist, this raises the possibility of a cascade of failures every time you turn Wikipedia off to make your point.

It is a point which I only somewhat support. Microsoft did after all create real jobs by being aggressive about intellectual property so as to pay its employees, whereas the hacker culture has in fact deprived good developers and academics (such as Andrew Tanenbaum, probably the real inventor of Linux) of both credit and payment, as Bill Gates pointed out in 1976. It’s replaced family-wage software jobs with a Maoist “cultural revolution”, accurately characterized as such by Jaron Lanier in his book You Are Not a Gadget, featuring, in place of family or fair wages, mob action and bullying, such as I have been subjected to, most recently in your serious violation of my privacy, when, as I have observed to you elsewhere, you published the IP addresses I use.

You may be inflating the seriousness of SOPA and PIPA simply because you don’t want to pay staff to automate search for copyright violation. Nothing in your Randroid based philosophy or personal behavior can convince me you are a revolutionary, working for the good of humanity. It is likely that most bloggers will be unaffected by SOPA and PIPA by way of the maxim, de minimis non curat lex: the law does not concern itself with trivia.

But not only did you create a risk of a cascading network failure as did our friends the bankers in 2008 with their toxic securities, monkeying around in an unexpected fashion with feature so widely used as to be an expected resource, you also created a precedent for Google, YouTube, Facebook, WordPress, and other widely used tools, which may be used by automated shells and scripts, to also pull this stunt.

Recall if you will that the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown of 1986 was caused by technicians making changes to and “testing” a system they did not fully understand.

I cannot help but remember the female and humanistic supervisor to whom I reported when at Princeton who strongly discouraged her programmers to make cute or dramatic changes to software facilities because even within the Princeton community there was no way of knowing whether distributed computers would use centralized computer resources and in what way.

As opposed to this dreary male culture of ersatz political protest, I should say.

Edward G. Nilges (spinoza1111)

What is the real problem with wikipedia?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 29, 2010 by spinoza1111

It’s not the inaccuracy of the articles although this is a problem.

It’s not the lack of meta-accuracy in the sense that one has no way of knowing that the articles have been vetted by other than a mob of snot-nosed convenience store clerks and unemployed programmers working as greeters at Walmart.

It is the lack of any conception of what constitutes knowledge, and therefore no conception of “the news that’s fit to print”.

Popular culture is over-represented for this reason, but the real problem is the exposure, in wikipedia’s articles on computer author Herbert Schildt and South African restaurant Mzoli’s, of quite run of the mill people and businessmen based on completely random and undiscussed criteria, including personal canards and (in the case of Mzoli’s) racism.

Initially presented as NPOV and even laudatory, these articles are in some cases (and apparently in the case of Schildt and Mzoli’s) created as frameworks for abuse.

In the case of Mzoli’s, the article was created by Jimbo Wales. One can only speculate why he did so, but the facts about a restaurant do not constitute important human knowledge unless that restaurant is otherwise notable in other media.

Nobody apart from a Seigenthaler, that is to say the connected and powerful, has real privacy rights. Indeed, wikipedia’s strange fulmination against “legal threats” shows a stunning contempt for a way, in addition to politics, for people to stop the world from being run by the rich thiefs of their intellectual production.

But even if the articles about Schildt and Mzoli’s constitute useful information, the information in wikipedia as a whole is completely unstructured. This allows any kind of petty, cultish, or childish concern (such as a computer game) to get treatment equal to Homer and Shakespeare, and the meta-lesson is an abomination…child abuse if we are to take seriously wikipedia’s proclaimed eleemosynary goal of being a worldwide resource for children doing their homework.

A traditional reference book’s chapter and section organization constitute a structure which in my teaching experience is untaught today: the hierarchical, multi-leveled outline, numbered academically with Roman numerals for the top level, capital letters for the next, and so on…or, in legal and engineering documents with structured “Dewey Decimal” style numbers.

Instead, it appears that at some time in the 1960s or 1970s, a teacher declared that the multi-level and hierarchical style outline was “confusing” (based on the narcissistic authoritarianism of declaring that what adults in their corruption find confusing, children surely shall).

The hierarchical structure puts confused souls in mind of traditional military command and control … although today’s American military seems to prefer the mess you can make in Powerpoint, and non-hierarchical general graphs with strange loops, and has made bloody messes of two wars thereby.

Therefore the “mind map” is preferred, and it’s just as confusing and dishonest as the military power point screen.

Wikipedia is at best a mind map from hell, with no organization. Its structure mirrors the rather frightening images of wikipedians I’ve come across on the Internet: they seem vacant and doughy-faced and this impression is reinforced in my experience by their behavior.

“In the matter of Herb Schildt” I have managed as a so-called “blocked user” or monstrum horrendum to get a Delete case and a confused debate has erupted, from which I have resigned in disgust after the usual foul abuse. But some of my opponents seemed to have discovered that according to wikipedia’s own standards, there is no solid material on Herbert Schildt other than his own publisher’s normalized puffery and self-published Snarky Tirades starting with and often based on Seebach’s “C: the Complete Nonsense”.

Since wikipedia, with a right wing, shop owner and lower middle class outlook and bias, refuses to accept material based on the lived experience of employees (such as my observations on the control of keypunch operators in the mainframe era), ordinary experience being “original research”, it in fact is tertiary with respect to the very sources it is destroying: the Oxford English Dictionary, the New York Times, the Encyclopedia Britannica. It is a scam and the theft of not only intellectual property but also something more important: the intellectual production of people being made helots by “gods in the clouds”.

Wikipedia is a world where the Father has been slain, along with the memory of his trust in or betrayal by the hierarchies of armies and corporations. But the Horde of guilty sons can’t make anything other than horror.

My latest update to the Ayn Rand wikipedia article

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 23, 2010 by spinoza1111

I am very serious about these updates, which are always canceled. Ayn Rand’s “philosophy” is absurd enough to be an order of magnitude more distant from actual philosophy than the philosophy of Carnap was to Heidegger, and it is tragic that American “tea party” members are reacting to a real impoverishment at the hands of computer thugs, gangster politicians of the right, and financial swindlers by reading Rand.

Ayn Rand was an exclusively self-proclaimed philosopher in her lifetime. Subsequent to that her work has been “re-examined” only in consequence of corporate takeovers of universities, for her philosophy is ersatz criticism of actual power relations.

Her work does not bear examination as philosophy. She makes elemental mistakes:

* Refusal to read or dialog with the tradition
* The logical fallacy of attempting to derive a synthetic apriori from the analytic apriori statement that (x)[x=x]
* A cult-like and polemic style that treats dialog as dissent from unquestioned truths

Citations of her work are of no more significance than citations by philosophers of Mein Kampf, or Zizek’s citations of American movies. It is true that at one place within his own work, the respected Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek does admit that Randroidism has more truth content than the liberal’s attempt to reconcile global capitalism with freedom, but this is nothing more than saying that Naziism was an alternative to Stalinism, and nothing in Fascism or Naziism bears philosophical scrutiny.

Ayn Rand is no philosopher, merely a justification for the impoverishment of the middle classes by computer thugs and tax cheats like Jimmy Wales who have a stunning contempt for followers who, in the name of anti-altruism, altruistically have donated their time to creating wikipedia, only to be driven out by convenience store clerks so that its content may be privatized and ultimately used for profit.

It is true that Marching Morons of the Tea Party movement are waving her book, but all this means is that “nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American booboisie”. Indeed, the fact that her thought is part of this Fascist reaction to the very genuine expropriation of the American middle class by the thugs of politics and business is nothing more than a mass madness on the order of “the great fear” of the French revolution and the Cultural Revolution in China.

Selfishness is in fact not any more logically prior than altruism. Even Marx got it wrong: sure, there was “primitive accumulation”, but there is also primitive altruism and cooperation and Mom. My own late Mom gave her life to her family and was treated like furniture: almost like Brutus’ Calpurnia, who swallowed fire, my Mom swallowed smoke for fifty years, and it killed her because she didn’t dare talk back: she got drunk in preference to standing up to the neighborhood bully. She gave and gave and got nothing in return for approximately the same reason I get screamed at by my sister for asking help in contacting my kids, but civilization is based on people like her. Ayn Rand shits on her memory. But I shit on Ayn Rand, saying, we have no rights, only responsibilities.

Edward G. Nilges, Hong Kong 23 Feb 2010

Wikipedia’s racist article on Haiti

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 14, 2010 by spinoza1111

Wikipedia’s article on Haiti claims that buildings collapsed owing to “poor structural design”. Here is my comment on the talk page:

It is point of view (and victim blaming) to say that Haiti’s buildings collapsed owing to “poor structural design”. Engineering is everywhere a matter of costs and trade-offs, and the racist treatment of Haiti for the past 200 years has meant that buildings have been constructed to lower standards than in the developed world.

Furthermore, Haiti has not had a major earthquake for the last 200 years, and it is not considered to be in an earthquake-prone area.

Posted at the Ayn Rand site on wikipedia

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 14, 2010 by spinoza1111

Since I allowed a person using the email jimmy@wikipedia.org, who is apparently Jimmy Wales, to comment the preceding (next) post in this blog, I have posted the following at the Ayn Rand article’s Talk page in wikipedia.

Ayn Rand is not a philosopher: please leave this statement alone

Note: Mr Jimmy Wales has (it appears) posted several comments at my own blog (https://spinoza1111.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/wikipedias-racist-bullying-redux/); the email source was jimmy@wikipedia.com and I believe this to be from a genuine source at this time.

I consider the comments of this “Wales apparent” person harassment, since despite the fact that he posted five separate comments, at no time did he make anything like a serious attempt to address my serious concerns about racist bullying on wikipedia.

Essentially, Mr Wales-presumptive dully and in the fashion of a cult leader repeatedly said that my view of the transformation of my name from Nilges to niggler was a private and unconfirmed view despite the obvious linguistic and literary linkages between Anglo Saxon insults and the enthusiastic adoption, by 17th century English sailors, of a Romance language word. He seems completely, almost deliberately, blind to recent research by respected Internet figures including Jaron Lanier (“You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto” (Knopf 2010)) which shows the reality of cyberbullying on wikipedia and other sites.

This was harassment far more serious than my inviting a person who’s damaging my reputation and standing to take a look at the origins of Fascism in the behavior of the lower middle class white collar clerisy of the 20th century, or read Adorno, or go fuck themselves, because Mr. Wales-apparent acted as if I did not deserve dialogue.

Therefore I request that the following statement remain at this edit page.

Ayn Rand is not a serious philosopher for two reasons. Many well-known philosophers including Sidney Hook (in the New York Times in a 1962 review of ”Notes for the New Intellectual”) have pointed out elementary philosophical blunders of the sort that would not earn her a passing grade in a philosophy class, including elementary logical fallacies and not even reading the texts she purports to criticise.

In addition, wikipedia, in order to be anything like a serious philosophical resource and not the Bolshoi or Great Soviet Encyclopedia of the New Idiocracy, needs collectively to do some elementary applied philosophy in creating articles about philosophy. This would have been obvious to Denis Diderot or the editors of the 1913 Encyclopedia Britannica, but apparently, in some sort of return of the Dark Ages as seen in the persecution of philosophical writers in the late Roman empire including Boethius, wikipedians believe that one can be “objective” in the manner of the presumption-free, slack-jawed, drool streaked, modal and median white American male…even as minor early Christian fathers such as Tertullian regarded Christ’s message as a license for anti-philosophy.

I have repeatedly proposed, and I here propose, a simple “recursive” definition of the set “philosopher” that is independent of institutions but based on the work of Habermas. It is membership in a human community over time in which already-recognized members of the set willingly engage applicants in invitational dialogue between equals, free of Habermas’ “instrumental reason” (self-seeking reason), in which the goal is agreement on truth.

Rand failed this test egregiously, since on the strength of financial success as a Hollywood hack and the writer of prolix and trashy books, she appeared on a talk show in 1961 and ”said” she was a philosopher. This was not taken seriously at the time but subsequently began to be taken seriously when corporations and banks in the USA saw her philosophy as a way to discipline their growing ranks of technical clerisy. The banks who funded Rand also brought us to 2008’s “credit crisis” and today, the same bankers, as applied Randroids, are demanding fat bonuses while outside their executive precincts their former technical clerisy is in many cases, dying in the streets.

Therefore, I ask, again, that the designation of “philosopher” be removed from the article on Ayn Rand. I am not a troll, nor am I a vandal. I was instead asked in 2004 to “be bold” by editors whose own intellectual production (a thing of far more value than intellectual property) was stolen and who have left wikipedia in disgust, and I contributed a great deal of content, which, I now believe, is on the way to being transformed into the Holy Private Property of Mr. Wales and his thug slaveowner racist pals. I believe this is why Hitler Youth and convenience store clerks including amerindianarts and many others started their little ”Kulturkampf” against knowledgeable contributors in 2006.

Please leave this edit alone. Since I don’t think you will accede to this request, it shall also be placed at my blog, at http://www.spinoza1111.wordpress.com. I have left the Wales-apparent’s comments stand: do me that courtesy in return.

Edward G. Nilges 14 Jan 2009

Wikipedia’s racist bullying redux

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 6, 2010 by spinoza1111

Interestingly, I am getting comments from a source whose email address may be Jimmy Wales. Wales is the founder of Wikipedia, although he didn’t invent wikis (Dr Larry Sanger did that). The email source looks bonafide, although I lack the expertise to verify this. Another individual is sending from a crudely-misspelled email address thinking to fool me, but that fool has gone to spam heaven. So perhaps we have a dialog below between Jimmy Wales and myself, although I am not at all impressed with his lack of diligence or thought; for example, the Wales-apparent claims that I meant that my patronym was transformed into the mild ephitet “Niggler”, whereas the problem is that it is meant as a racial slur.

Last year, I spoke about this issue on YouTube.

I’ve never understood how people can consider themselves mature professionals when they can post something like the header line of the following discussion on the Talk page for the IP account which I used to access wikipedia:

It’s the same sort of game as transforming the name of computer author Herb Schildt into “bullschildt”. When adults do it, they replicate the “nightmare of childhood” and this is Fascism if in the small.

Basically (as Erich Maria Remarque wrote in “All Quiet on the Western Front”) a generation has the right to expect to grow into an adult world in which reason is used communicatively (in Habermas’ sense). Remarque felt his generation betrayed by the Western front, but subsequent generations have also been betrayed in smaller ways.

In the small, the creation of a socially unnecessary class of protected technicians who don’t have to grow up because their companies are addicted to data systems which add no value (once competitive advantage is removed when all companies have adopted modern data systems), along with the anonymity of actual children, convenience store clerks and thugs, is this type of destruction of the promises of adulthood, which are (were) connected with betrayed hopes of social progress.

I have a right not to have to deal in the slightest with transformations of my patronym into racist slurs. The techies who pull this stunt can deny a racist meaning all they like based on my white skin, it remains offensive.

In technology, there was a brief promise of Habermasian-communicative adulthood in the 1970s in the form of the ethics of the structured walkthrough, as there was in the original “free software” movement of Richard Stallman.

But despite the fact that Adorno was Habermas’ mentor, the latter failed to see that there’d be an interface, and therefore a dialectic, between communicative and instrumental reason.

I saw this happen at so humble a venue as Montgomery Ward in 1976, when a manager sat down in our “structured walkthrough” and said, “I know that managers aren’t supposed to be present in structured walkthroughs. Too bad.”

I saw the dialectic: almost as soon as the liberatory concept appeared it immediately had to justify itself by promising to make the rich, richer, not by promising a better and more humane workplace. The issue of a humane workplace was off the table in Chicago because our being paid was supposed to have indemnified management, and allow it to be as perverse and barbaric as it liked.

Likewise, wikipedia changed almost overnight in 2006 from “be bold” to the frightened, and frightening “politeness” of American white males (combined with all sorts of international variants including the unaddressed racism of upper- and middle-caste men from India, of the sort who would casually put down their countrymen at IBM Waterbury, in my experience, with ephitets such as “junglee man” not meant at all humorously).

This politeness somehow permits the abuse of marginals and outliers (including people more literate than the median) without limit as seen above, while being used to prevent them from responding even on “talk” pages.