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Wikis in Open Source Projects

Wikis are great to collect information and they work well, the more active users they actually have. With the growth of Wikipedia the number of people who understand how collaboration works in a Wiki increased dramatically (even though in fact many users of the Wikipedia still do not seem to know, that they can actually edit pages).

For smaller numbers of contributing users I found, that it is sometimes difficult to keep information up to date or delete spam, that appears even though Antispam modules and Captcha tools are set up.

For example in the English LXDE wiki, we have quite some hits on the wiki, but if we look closer, many pages have outdated information about releases and roadmaps. As the wiki is available in many languages, it gets even worse in other languages with less community members engaging. A reason why the LXDE wiki might not be so active is probably because the project is more a project of developers collaborating with other developers. Developers are already busy coding. My observation is, that they simply do not have time to keep Wikis up to date.

Another example is the lubuntu wiki. Over time different people contribute to the wiki. The wiki was originally modeled after wiki pages of other Ubuntu derivatives like Xubuntu.  We had the advantage to use a basic structure, that might have taken others years to achieve. A very important point was also that there is an established model to deal with different opinions in a wiki. The lubuntu wiki is set up within the Ubuntu wiki. When we started there were already a lot of people who we could cooperate with and there was a functioning administration and hosting model, that we did not have to take care of. The wiki developed into a good resource and brought in people who also took on the special help pages for lubuntu.

Freifunk Wiki

Finally the freifunk wiki of the free wireless community. The wiki is in German, but during recent years also other languages were included as people from across the world started to participate in freifunk. There have been steady contributions to the content from different kinds of people. While some local communities themselves have often more content, the wiki remains to be an important resource and basis especially for new communities. The wiki is managed and maintained completely by the community. As we have many capable developers and IT experts in this project, it should be easy to maintain the wiki system and perform upgrades. The fact is though, that the activity level of people, including my own engagement, ranges vastly. This makes it very difficult to administer a wiki. And for newbies it is difficult to support a group as well. The most difficult part is to get into the group of admins. You need to get access and often root access to infrastructure. It is difficult to establish a level of trust with newcomers. Longterm members start families, might not show up at offline meetings and might not always be available. In a community there is usually also a previous experience with newcomers that disappear after some time or people who could be perceived as trolls. So, the result is often an attitude of a wait and see approach. In return newcomers, who want to push ahead with new cool stuff, get frustrated with this attitude. I have not seen a perfect approach to resolve this issue, but I find that real world meet ups that bring contributors together can help to solve this. In Germany many local communities have local meet ups. There are also bigger community events like the Wireless Community Weekend and even International get togethers like the Battle of the Mesh.

So, whatever you do, try to meet some people face to face and you will see how it also becomes more fun to work in the project.

Kategorien: 

What works well for community projects – wikis, blogs, forums, cms, IRC

I guess in any project – open software, hardware, content –  there are established working models and processes, that develop over time and help everyone involved to get things done.  Those processes need to be explained and communicated to newbies taking time and adding overhead to volunteer projects. Tasks not everyone is interested in as experience also shows that not all newbies stick with projects. So, what to do? 

A way to reduce overhead explaining newbies how to involve is to stick to established channels, standard collaboration tools and work processes. Forums, wikis, content management systems, IRC channels, mailing lists are all great tools, but when does a wiki make sense for a project? When do forums, IRC and mailing lists all make sense?

Generally saying my experience is that projects that are more focused on technology and with lots of developers tend to do good with mailing lists, IRC and sometimes forums. Wikis and website documentation works much better, if you have people who can actually invest time in creating and updating content. Documentation is a weak point of many software projects as it is not always fun and takes time. For most developers it is much cooler to develop a new feature, than to write a document about it, but if you have people who would like to support other areas, but cannot code, then go for it. Maybe even start a documentation team.

Project blogs work well if the project team is not too big, as people seem to be somehow feel attached to a project to blog. It works well for projects with real “core people” and are small or midsized. On the other hand if the project is very big, the question arises who has the right to write on the blog? Or, who will actually write something, if the community is diverse and dispersed?

Of course there could be projects where things are different, but the above is how it works in my experience.

Kategorien: 

lubuntu first alpha releases

lynxis published the first lubuntu test iso based on the seeds by David Sugar and additional patches. The first release was 381 MB and a second one only 292 MB. Following test images are also around this size. After crashing the c-base server several times with the lubuntu images, the LXDE team kindly offers the download from its website: download.lxde.org/lubuntu-9.10

lubuntu
lubuntu logo suggestion by gusion

The lubuntu project was started in February after I met with Mark Shuttleworth in Berlin. We talked about how to cooperate between LXDE and Ubuntu. Mark agreed that a light Ubuntu distro would definitely be worthwile to proceed. I started the lubuntu project with the goal to create an Ubuntu derivative that is fast and lightweight just as the goals of the LXDE project.

LXDE, "Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment", is an extremely fast, performing and energy saving desktop environment. It is maintained by an international community of developers and comes with a beautiful interface, multi-language support, standard keyboard short cuts and additional features like tabbed file browsing. LXDE uses less CPU and less RAM. It is especially designed for cloud computers with low hardware specifications like netbooks, mobile devices (e.g. MIDs) or older computers. LXDE can be installed with distributions like Ubuntu or Debian. It provides a fast desktop experience connecting easily with applications in the cloud. LXDE supports a wealth of programs, that can be installed with Linux systems locally. The source code of LXDE is licensed partly under the terms of the General Public License and partly under the LGPL.

The lubuntu team already had IRC meetings, face to face gatherings in Singapore, Berlin and other cities. And, I am excited to see the team getting together and releasing first results now. lynxis who is most of the time in the c-base just over the street from my appartment joined the team a few months ago. I am looking forward to more people joining up with us.

There are many ways you can support the project. Firstly download and test the current test releases. If you are a developer you can submit patches. If you are a tester, please leave info about bugs in the bug tracker. Secondly you can join us and create desktop backgrounds and logos for lubuntu. We have not decided yet, what the final logo will look like.Check out the lubuntu Artwork Forum and leave your ideas there. You can also help with translations, if you speak another language and translate the desktop of LXDE. Or you can help to improve or write Wikipedia articles about lubuntu and LXDE.

lubuntu logo idea by genelyk
lubuntu logo idea by genelyk

lubuntu design idea
lubuntu Design Idea by leo

Download lubuntu test iso: download.lxde.org/lubuntu-9.10

Links

* lubuntu on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lubuntu
* Join up with the LXDE community http://join.lxde.org
* lubuntu Artwork Forum http://forum.lxde.org/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=437
* Bug reports: https://bugs.launchpad.net/~lubuntu-desktop
* Seeds and Code of Lubuntu: https://code.launchpad.net/~lubuntu-desktop
* Launchpad Project: https://bugs.launchpad.net/~lubuntu-desktop
* How to make a LiveCD: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/LiveCDCustomizationFromScratch

Community First!

The current release of MySQL shows the problems free and open source software projects face that put business first and community second. Michael “Monty” Widenius critizes in his Blog the current developement model of MySQL and recommends not to use the current release 5.1 of the database system.

The reason I am asking you to be very cautious about MySQL 5.1 is that there are still many known and unknown fatal bugs in the new features that are still not addressed.

Monty points out problems stemming from having a company taking the lead in the development of a free software system - cause they need something to sell fast. In this article I am supporting the view of Monty and discuss his views in regards to Freifunk and LXDE. I believe communities must take the lead in order to make and keep a project on the bleeding edge, however, we should work together with companies (like FON.com for Freifunk or ASUS for LXDE) and exchange resources. Both can profit. In the end open and free community projects are all about cooperation.

In his blog entry Monty gives some reasons why the MySQL development department again got a quality problem with the release. Problems are ranging from the fact that MySQL 5.1 was declared a release candidate to early (because of commercial reasons), to focussing too much on new features rather than on quality (because of commercial reasons), to involving developers that are not experienced in developing database systems (Mario: Maybe because they do not come from the community?), to not keeping the development open for testing and participation of the community and more.

As I said in my talk at the MySQL users conference, I think it’s time to seriously review how the MySQL server is being developed and change the development model to be more like Drizzle and PostgreSQL where the community has a driving role in what gets done! (http://monty-says.blogspot.com/2008/11/oops-we-did-it-again-mysql-51-rel...)

What can we learn for the free software and other open source projects here? The consequences are clear. Projects that want to stay on the bleeding edge of technology with quality code and widespread support must put the community first.

In the projects I participate - e.g. freifunk, LXDE, FOSS Bridge - I always work hard to bring the community together, make the community grow and keep and foster it. And this is not always easy. There are different expectations of people involved, different goals and outside circumstances change and have positive and negative effects.

For example, even though the Freifunk community was in the spotlight many times in the last two years, it seemed somehow stagnating. We had put a lot of resources to rebuild the website and foster more exchange, but with the broader availability of broadband in some districts in Berlin for example the motivation of people to participate to get constant Internet access became less. Additionally new business models seemed to draw people away from freifunk to something that seemed easier to use and offer many things similar to Freifunk. However Freifunk is more than mere exchange of free Internet access. The idea of Freifunk is to build a local network - the public space in cyberspace, but we did not have the tools easy enough giving everyone the chance to build the local network with the limited resources, especially time!, that people have.. but we are getting there with simpler software and easier to use devices.

FON.com received different reactions in the core groups of the global Freifunk community when it started, ranging from refusing any connection with FON to trying to ignoring it. Some welcomed FON and their involvement. FON pays some of the core OpenWRT developers which is the base of the Freifunk Firmware and it offers new hardware, that can also be used by the Freifunk community. Personally I do not mind working together with FON. As I see it, we have to be pragmatic and everyone has to make a living and the Freifunk community could profit from the involvement of FON and other companies. I would like the decision if people from the community work for and with FON left to the person him/herself. At a recent meeting in Berlin, I have discussed this a bit with Martin Varsavsky. Martin actually asked me how FON could work together more with the Freifunk community.

We should be clear here though. FON and Freifunk are two very different things. FON is a company that labels its participants (actually its customers) community. Freifunk is a community with many different people - students, engineers, scientists, free and open source activists, people who want Internet, people who want a truly free network, people using it for their business, people working for development cooperation and so on. People have different motivations to participate in Freifunk - interest for technology and development, Internet access, interest in new ideas and projects, inspired by idea of freedom, a way to make a living. These people would not participate if Freifunk was a commercial operation. I remember the saying of some ¨Money destroys the community¨. It is formulated in this regard, I believe.

Still, we should not be absolute here - meaning - we should acquire resources and money for the community -> for conferences, events, hardware for developers, funding for projects etc.. Based on my experience of the last years, communities need resources. We should study successful models of communities that have achieved to channel resources to the people really working on it. Associations, Foundations and similar organisations are very helpful here as they keep things transparent and offer newcomers entry points. Also companies that would like to support projects have it easier to talk to someone from the community if there is a working organisation set up.

During recent months I have seen more activity in the Freifunk community again. With the new OpenWRT Firmware Freifunk will have many features which we want for years. I am always talking about the fantastic things we can do in local networks - new usage cases and sharing of content in your local environment, community radio in schools, universities or simply your backyard. Local networks are different to the Internet as cinema to TV. Felix Fietkau and John have presented a development version of OpenWRT to a group in Berlin recently. The new OpenWRT will offer plugins that will let us store content directly on the nodes. With router devices offering USB connections now everyone can have their small webserver at home. We can have a local Web 2.0. With devices connected to sensors like thermometers we can have live feeds from all over the city, the country and worldwide. I do not want this local Web 2.0 called after a company, a device or anything else. We call this FREIFUNK. A global local = glocal network open to everyone - to the public and to companies.

Companies are always welcome to join development and focus on their business models. However, Open Source, Open Infrastructure and Free Software Projects like Freifunk and LXDE or Open Content projects like Wikipedia have a roadmap that is following long term goals instead of short term profitability. And people are engaging here not just for monetary reasons, they have much broader motivations and they are inspired by the freedom the communities offer. This is why communities are more powerful. Companies simply cannot compete with this in terms of human resources and motivation. In order to grow and sustain free and open projects and the communities though we need to work together in our different fields and we need companies that engage and support the communities.

Daniel Molkentin über neue Features in KDE 4.1, Spass in der internationalen KDE-Community und seine Zukunftspläne

KDE LogoDaniel Molkentin von der KDE Community spricht mit mir ueber die aktuelle Entwicklung der Desktop-Oberfläche auf dem Linuxtag 2008 in Berlin. Themen sind
- die Plasmaoberfläche von KDE 4.1
- Moeglichkeiten fuer kommerzielle Distributoren den Desktop zu branden
- die Zusammenarbeit mit anderen Communities, wie Wikipedia und der Idee von Offlineclients
- die Zusammenarbeit mit dem OpenStreetmap-Projekt beim KDE Desktop Globus Marble
- die weltweiten Parties zum Release von KDE 4.0
- das geplante Camp KDE in Amerika
- das Potential der wachsenden Community in Asien
- Moeglichkeiten bei KDE mitzumachen


Linuxtag 2008, Interview mit Daniel Molkentin von KDE from Mario Behling/Kamera: Stefan Koehler
Die K Desktop Environment (KDE; auf Deutsch K-Arbeitsumgebung; früher: Kool Desktop Environment) ist eine frei verfügbare Arbeitsumgebung, das heißt eine grafische Benutzeroberfläche mit vielen Zusatzprogrammen für den täglichen Gebrauch. Diese ist vorrangig für Computer gedacht, auf denen ein Unix-ähnliches Betriebssystem läuft, wie z. B. BSD, Linux oder Solaris. Die Version 3 kann mit Cygwin auch unter Windows und mit Fink auch unter Mac OS X betrieben werden. Seit Version 4 kann KDE-Software prinzipiell auch nativ unter Windows und Mac OS X genutzt werden, die Entwickler planen eine lauffähige Version von KDE für Windows und für Mac OS X für KDE 4.1. Version 15. Juni 2008 um 22:56, http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kde)

KDE 4.1 Desktop Image Small
Daniel Molkentin: "Wo es im Moment interessant wird. ... Wir haben einen Desktop-Globus namens Marble und dort arbeiten die Autoren aktiv mit OpenStreetMap zusammen. Wir koennen jetzt bereits OpenStreetMap-Karten anzeigen, noch als "Tiles" und wir hoffen diese "Tiles" bis Ende des Jahres durch wirkliche Vektordaten erzetzen zu koennen, die wir dann ueber die Landkarte legen koennen. Da sind sehr viele Leute aus dem KDE-Projekt aktiv geworden. Torsten Rahn ist da zu nennen, der Autor und andere."

OpenStreetMap ist ein freies Software-Projekt mit dem Ziel, für jeden frei verfügbares weltweites Kartenmaterial in elektronischer Form zu schaffen. Es handelt sich bei dem Projekt um ein Wiki mit geographischen Daten, die (im Gegensatz zu proprietärem Material) unter einer freien Lizenz (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0) verwendbar sind.

LiMux: Interview mit Florian Schießl über das Linuxprojekt der Stadt München

Ein Vorzeigeprojekt der Freien Software-Gemeinschaft ist das Projekt LiMux der Stadt München. Bei dem Projekt werden die Computerarbeitsplätze und Server der Stadt München nach und nach auf freie Software-Alternativen umgestellt, weg von einer Microsoft-abhängigen Monopolstruktur. Auf der Open Source Meets Business hatte ich die Chance mit Florian Schießl über das Projekt zu sprechen.

Producer: Mario Behling // Kamera: Stefan Koehler
Direkter Link: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1615580599839632999

LiMux – Die IT-Evolution ist ein Linuxprojekt der Stadtverwaltung München, das freie Software auf den derzeit ca. 14.000 Arbeitsplatzrechnern der städtischen Mitarbeiter etablieren wird; aufgrund der für die öffentliche Hand in punkto Software-Beschaffung neuartigen Ausrichtung auf Open Source ist LiMux weltweit in den Medien präsent und wird von der proprietären Softwareindustrie und den Befürwortern freier Software gleichermaßen beobachtet. Das Kofferwort LiMux setzt sich aus Linux und München zusammen. Der Zusatz „Die IT-Evolution“ steht im Gegensatz zur „Revolution“, die versucht, durch einen scharfen Schnitt die aktuelle Situation zu ändern. „LiMux – Die IT-Evolution” wird eine langsame, aber kontinuierliche Entwicklung sein, die als Ziel eine modernere, den Anforderungen auf dem Arbeitsplatzrechner besser angepasste IT-Landschaft hat. (Version 23. März 2008, 16:30 Uhr, http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/LiMux)

Hintergrund zu Florian Schießl, der das Limux-Projekt von der Seite der Stadt München betreut und Stefan Koehler, der von Seiten von Gonicus an dem Projekt arbeitet:

Biographie: Florian Schießl
Florian Schießl (29) ist seit 2003 bei der LiMux-Projektleitung und stellt als stellvertretender Leiter des Linux Client Teams die Ablauffähigkeit des Basisclients und die Koordinierung der Officeumstellung sicher. Linux ist sein ständiger Begleiter seit 1998.

Biographie: Stefan Koehler
Stefan Koehler wurde 1971 geboren. Nach einem Musikstudium wandte er sich der Informatik zu und vertritt aus Überzeugung den Einsatz von Freier Software in Unternehmen und Behörden. Derzeit begleitet er als Berater der GONICUS GmbH die Linuxmigration der Landeshauptstadt München.
(http://www.heise.de/fastbin/eventmanager/event_js/2/?event_id=124)

Serchilo: Meta Search Engine with Wiki Commands

I followed a lightning talk of Georg Jähnig on serchilo.net at the 24c3 Chaos Communication Congress. The video is available now in the torrent network. I uploaded it to Google Video (please post alternatives as comments). Last year I already published an interview with Georg in German. He put quite a lot of work in improving the website and making it more international since then. Hope his ideas takes off even more in the upcoming year. Would be great to have him at the SuMa-eV congress this year as well.

Videolink: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5416119002471085549

Link: www.serchilo.net
Blog: serchilo.wordpress.com
Serchilo Firefox-Plugin: serchilo.net/wiki/index.php/Serchilo:Firefox
Georg Jähnig: de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benutzer:Jorges

Free Society = Read-Write Society: A Culture of Openness and Free Collaboration

What made and makes the development of free software, free content and free infrastructures – alternatives to centralized systems of knowledge distribution and development possible? What made and makes the system of the many in contrast to the system of the few and powerful possible?

The Internet is an important factor, but indeed it is much more the culture of openness and free collaboration that constitutes the basis for free layers. It is a cultural change that took off in the aftermath of the peaceful revolutions in the world and the fall of the Berlin wall 1989. A short time when people took politics in their own hands and when “the end of history” was proclaimed by Francis Fukuyama. Many criticized him and regarded this statement as invalid proven by the aftermaths. Looking at what happened at a level far apart from daily superficial politics – how people started to create free layers – I find it rather valid, if it is slightly rephrased to “the end of old history”.

In the times before 1989 few people were able to take part in the production of content and culture. Afterwards more and more people simply safeguarded their rights and started collaborating on the most different topics. This is not only a change of how people behave but indeed this changes the way reality is perceived. The production of content and free publication is a lively way to write our own history.

The people’s history is completely opposite to the way history “was made”, or often we could even use the word “fabricated”, before. It includes all its facets and different opinions of people involved and enables a look closer to the actual happenings of a time than any historian could possibly allow us to see. The many different views and descriptions are presented directly and indirectly. The observations, ideas and intentions of producers can be directly observed in the actual content they produce, like in the articles of Wikipedia, or in the way software programs function, like Linux. Indirect conclusions about the world we live in can be drawn through the transparency and openness of the productions processes in free layers, e.g. the version history in Wikipedia or the documentation, the open sources and versions in the free software production.

The openness of free layers allows everyone to be a historian. “In the old days” to be a historian was a profession limited to a few. Until today historians were the historians of the powerful, the ones that provided them with the opportunities to work or simpler said with food and shelter. They wrote down what the future world would know of a time. Isn’t it therefore mostly the history of the winners that we quote today?

It changes in the aftermath of the freedom movements in 1989 and the growth of the free Internet (“as in freedom”, Stallman). This is “the begin of a new history”, where people write their own history in blogs, forums, mailing lists and wikis – the (his)stories of the many not the few.

In the Read-Write Society (Lawrence Lessig) people create their own content, own software, own infrastructures, own hardware. And thus they create their own realities, their own truths, their own society. More and more label their productions as free – free software, free wireless networks, free music, free videos, free texts and whole free encyclopedias. Free licenses allow people to copy and redistribute their work and the works of others freely to and by anyone and sometimes even to change and to sell it – the start of completely free layers.

Nevertheless looking at the real number of people actually participating in creating these free layers – publishing content or producing free software, it is still a small number of people. However many more already profit from this information and knowledge gathering. Wikipedia is one of the top sites on the Internet. Imagine what else can be achieved through this culture of freedom.

Mahalo – New Entry in the Search Eengine Market. An Alternative?

Jason McCabe Calacanis is the founder of Mahalo.com. With Mahalo he tries to establish a new search engine based on user submitted search result pages. In order to motivate people to write search result pages Mahalo pays part time guides 10 to 15 USD. Part time guides who submit a search page result that is accepted by full time guides also get credited as the original writer of pages. How do you become a guide? At first you have to register and fill out an application form. They want to know your personal details like phone, address etc. as well as your blog, user names of sites like Wikipedia, delicious, Flickr, Youtube and so on. Then they ask about the why you want to write search results, what kind of search results and what else you have to say. Finally you have to choose about the payment of your work. Currently US citizens can chose to receive 10-15 USD per accepted search result page themselves or donate it to the Wikimedia Foundation (it is planned to add other organizations later), non-US citizens can only choose to donate it. Are they good or bad? It seems like Mahalo wants to belong to the good guys. So they have 250.000 USD in donations set aside for the Wikimedia Foundation this year. This is impressive, but it has to be seen if part time guides also choose to donate to Wikipedia.
Mahalo Greenhouse: … Oh yeah, if we accept your search result we will pay you $10 to $15 per search result (the range is based on how many search results you’ve completed: more here). Now, if you’re a disciple of Yochi and you absolutely will not work on a web-based project for money, we’ve got an amazing proposition for you: make the web better by writing spam-free search results and we’ll donate your fees to the Wikimedia Foundation. So, you can make the world better 2x: first by making clean, spam-free search results and second by helping keep the Wikipedia running (those server bills ain’t cheap!). We’ve earmarked up to $250,000 in donations to the Wikipedia this year. http://blog.mahalo.com/?p=15
Even if some will choose to donate their work to the Wikimedia Foundation it is clear that Mahalo in the first place is not about building a community. It is about making money (or possibly for some guides to earn an income?) even if they try to appeal to different users, as well those with intrinsic motivations: “…you can make the world better 2x”. Investors like Sequoia Capital's Michael Moritz, who invested in Yahoo and Google when they were still start ups, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who became a billionaire after selling Broadcast.com to Yahoo, AOL Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis, who also owns the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals, Elon Musk, co-founder of online payment service PayPal, NewsCorp, CBS Corporation and Hubert Burda Media – they want to gain a profit in the end. So what is the calculation of Jason Calacanis with Mahalo?
As for funding, if the Google AdSense units currently on the site don't cover costs, Calacanis says investors … have given him enough money to run the company for at least five years. (http://searchengineland.com/070530-180000.php)
If Mahalo pays up to 15 Dollars per submitted search page it means an ad that costs on average 7 Cents per click should be clicked about 214 times in order to recapture the cost of a search page of a “part time guide”. However, you also have to add the server costs, cost of the full time guide checking and so on. Still though, over time it seems possible for popular search pages to recapture the cost, but what about not so popular search terms and search terms that do not exist? Jim Lanzone, CEO of ask.com said "On any given day, 60 percent of the search requests we get, we have never seen before." (sfgate.com...) How will Calacanis solve this problem remains to be seen. What else do I have from submitting search page results apart from gaining money? In contrast to Technorati and Digg I do not get anything out of it except limited exposure – my name on a search page. With Technorati I get exposure for my blog (a link!) and receive useful data, for example who is linking to me and how many blogs link to me, what are top tags and so on. With Digg I can save my bookmarks and access them from anywhere and so on. The strategy of Mahalo to index only the best sites as well is unclear.
The FAQ says: We will link to... sites that are considered authorities in their field (i.e. Edmunds for autos, Engadget for consumer electronics, and the New York Times for news). (http://mahalo.com/Mahalo_FAQ)
Who decides who is an authority? Which are the best sites? How is the decision made? What happens in case of different opinions? Free communities like the Wikipedia community developed (and develop) ways to solve problems and create transparent decision making processes. How about transparency at Mahalo? Next: The question what is the user really looking for? ..This is a problem for all search engines: ambiguous searches. If I look for instance for the search result “Paris Hilton”. Do I look for the person or the place? Google tries to understand what users want by collecting more and more user specific information and personalizing search results according to this data. (I wrote about the privacy problem of hyper collecting user data of a commercial search engine company before. It is quasi automatically an “invitation” to collect more and more user data and utilize it commercially as much as possible.) There is no perfect solution to ambiguous searches. Mahalo also does not address the problem of ambiguous searches. So neither Mahalos results will be more relevant than those of other search engines, even if they are written by humans rather than by a computer algorithm. Is Mahalo more transparent than others? Not as far as I can see. Mahalo increases transparency by showing top searches in real time at the right sidebar. Google Zeitgeist does not do that in real time. Technorati and others though do it also in real time. Therefore I do not see more transparency as other search engines offer it. What about the search pages? I am not an expert in evaluating search engine results and it is probably still too early to do that anyways as Mahalo only started in June. Let’s see. Is Mahalo for me? It is for me if it is free! To tackle the problem of search engine monopolization, I believe we need an approach to search that is free, open source, sustainable and provides good search results. On the website there is no information about what software Mahalo is using. When I asked Jason Calacanis - suprise! Mahalo is based on free software: MediaWiki, Squid, Nutch, LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP). How about the search result pages itself though? They are copyright to Mahalo and therefore are not free. “we feel since we're paying for the results we should own them”. On the Wikia Search project mailing list Jason explains further to Jimmy Wales:
Now, this is not written in stone. In the future we might move to a Creative Commons model for the results--perhaps non-commercial so someone doesn't just life the entire Mahalo index and dilute our ability to pay the contributors. That's my main concern: figuring out a way to keep paying folks who want to get paid for their contributions. So, I like CC Noncommerical and I like paying people. (Jason on the search-l-wikia mailing list on 4 July 2007)
Mahalo might in future use a license that is not as free as many in the free software/content/infrastructure etc. community would like it, but Jason Calacanis is obviously trying to develop a sustainable business model based on free layers. Additionally he has expressed strong interest in helping to build open source search software together with the Wikia Search project of Jimmy Wales:
Mahalo.com hopes to a) use Wikia's open source search software and b) wants to help build it. We *share* the mission to open up search. Jason on the search-l-wikia mailing list on 3 July 2007.
Mahalo is an interesting approach to search, which revives the idea of the Yahoo Directory, the DMOZ and other directory listings. It is based on free software, but not (yet) on free knowledge. I cannot copy the database, but I can duplicate the software that is powering the site. Mahalo is set up as a commercial enterprise. Users have the choice to work for them - to submit human written search result pages and get paid or to donate what they earn to the Wikimedia Foundation. If Mahalo can become an alternative search engine with noticeable market share remains to be seen. If it is successful, I believe there is a high chance that it will be bought by Google, Yahoo or another company. It is probably what the investors are hoping for. If Mahalo would also use free licenses for its search page results, it would endanger this prospectus. Mahalo is trying to find a compromise between the use and the application of freedom in every layer (free software and free content) and its commercial interests. For anyone who wants free search it is a good start, but to create a really free search engine, result pages have to be free as well. Under current economic conditions this would not be interesting for a commercial enterprise. However, I believe only a completely free search based on completely free layers will provide a sustainable basis and motivation for people to form a free international community (like the Wikipedia community) that works continuously on a human powered search. But ... a free community cannot be bought!

A world where everything is free

Imagine a world, where everything is free. Impossible? Right now people all over the world are working on this idea. They want to create a world where you can instantly have access to free content like free music, videos or texts, free software like free operating systems, programs, computer games and even powerful search engines, free hardware like plans for computer chips and free infrastructure like local wireless mesh networks.

1983 Richard Stallman launched the GNU Project, 1996 Linus Torvalds started Linux, 1997 started Slashdot, 1999 Indymedia was started, in 2000 the first freifunk enthusiasts started experimenting in London and Berlin, in January 2001 Wikipedia went online, in July 2001 the P2P-Network BitTorrent was set up, the development of the free search engine Nutch began 2002 and the P2P search engine Yacy was first tested 2004. These are examples of projects of people who started to create free and open structures – of people who create free layers for everyone to use.

How is this possible? Why do people do this? How can they afford to work like that?

The ideas behind setting up free layers are ground shaping. They include a complete cultural and civilizational change of how we behave, work, communicate and live together. The idea behind is a new social contract where you give freely and receive freely. These people simply have fun by doing what they are doing and additionally their motivation is to do good like for example to educate and help others.

The surprise is that this system is working as a real economic system – a sharing economy, where everyone wins. What you get is always more than what you give. This is especially true in the free software community, where a person puts his work into a software program and in exchange gets back the work of sometimes hundreds of programmers, who worked on other parts of the software. This example was famously made by Rishab Ayer Ghosh: You give one hour and you get back the work of hundreds or thousands of hours of programmers around the world. It is a point where you always get back more than you give – a real win-win-situation.

Of course this example cannot be transferred exactly to the “world of things”. When you have one apple and you share it with someone, you will only have half an apple. However in a world where technology is the driving force of the economy, the knowledge of how to produce something becomes often much more valuable than the availability of natural resources which can be delivered easily anywhere in today’s world.

And in fact what we can observe is that besides the production of free software (e.g. Linux) and free content (e.g. Wikipedia) people begin to exchange knowledge of how to actually make and manipulate things like computer chips or wireless routers as well – driven by the ideas of free sharing and its personal profits or because they simply want to gain experience, get feedback or to have fun.

Kategorien: 

Pakanto, der Paketmacher für Linuxdistributionen: Paketbeschreibungen mit Wikihilfe kollaborativ erstellen

Um Software bei Linux zu installieren, stellen Distributoren, wie zum Beispiel Debian oder Ubuntu, einen Katalog mit verschiedenen Softwarepaketen zur Verfügung. Dieser Katalog existiert häufig nur in englischer Sprache oder ist oft nur rudimentär übersetzt. Bei diesem Problem setzt das Projekt Pakanto, der Paketmacher, von Daniel Arnold an. Mit Hilfe eines Wikis als kollaboratives Werkzeug sollen Paketbeschreibungen erstellt und verbessert werden.

Wikipedia: Stabile Versionen, mehr Qualität statt Quantität und neue Anwendungsmöglichkeiten durch Nutzung von Geokoordinaten

Kurt Jansson im Gespräch mit Jakob Voss in der Wikipedia Corner beim 23 Chaos Communication Congress. Wie hat sich die Enzyklopädie entwickelt? Was steht uns in nächster Zeit bevor?

Serchilo: Meta-Suchmaschine mit Wikiprinzip

Um die Datenbanken von Suchmaschinen und Auskunftsdiensten abzufragen, muss man auf die Websites der Anbieter. Neben Werbebannern erhält man hier oft viele für die Suche nicht relevante Informationen. Mit einer Suchanfrage bei Serchilo kann man direkt auf die Ergebnisse von Suchmaschinen zugreifen. Die Nutzer können bei Serchilo zudem eigene Kommandos schreiben und bearbeiten. Die Befehle werden hierzu in einem Wiki unter einer freien Creative-Commons-Lizenz (by+sa) gespeichert.

KDE-Entwickler treiben Wikipedia-Integration in den Desktop voran: Daniel Molkentin im Interview beim 23c3

Ein Fokus der Arbeit der Community hinter dem hauptsächlich für Linuxsysteme genutzten Desktop KDE ist es derzeit Wikipedia-Inhalte zu integrieren. Kurt Jannson interviewt Daniel Molkentin zu diesem Projekt beim 23c3, dem 23. Chaos Communication Congress, in Berlin.

Globaler Freifunk-Feed-Newswire online

Ein globaler Freifunk-Newswire ist jetzt unter http://global.freifunk.net zu erreichen. Hier gibt es zudem eine Übersicht über Freifunk-Initiativen weltweit. Bisher konnte ich 271 landesweite, regionale und lokale Freifunk-Projekte aus 33 Ländern identifizieren. Obwohl die Anzahl von Initiativen noch nichts über die tatsächliche Zahl der Teilnehmer aussagt, verdeutlicht die Vielzahl der Projekte bereits den weltweiten Trend zum Aufbau von freien Netzen. Deutlich wird jedoch ebenfalls, dass in Afrika und Asien bisher erst wenige Initiativen existieren. Es ist aber auch möglich, dass einige Communities aufgrund von Sprachbarrieren noch nicht identifiziert werden konnten.

Nicht alle Initiativen stellen Feeds zur Verfügung. Derzeit werden auf der Website 111 Feeds syndiziert. Der Großteil davon sind Projekt-Blogs, aber auch einige private Freifunk-Themen-Blogs, Freifunk-Foren und Wikis werden syndiziert. Alle gegenwärtig gesammelten Feeds sind als OPML (http://freifunker.perspektive89.com/aggregator/opml) erhältlich. Interessierte können die Feeds somit auch auf dem eigenen Computer syndizieren oder selbst ähnliche Angebote einrichten. Die Feeds des Newswires gibt es im RSS- und Atom-Format: http://global.freifunk.net/node/feed, http://global.freifunk.net/atom/feed

Die stichwortspezifischen Feeds (Tag-Feeds) funktionieren im Moment leider noch nicht einwandfrei (http://global.freifunk.net/syndication). Folgend eine Übersicht über die Anzahl von Freifunk-Initiativen in verschiedenen Ländern auf der Website. Eine nicht ganz aktuelle Liste von Freifunk-Communities und Intitiativen findet sich auch auf der englischen Wikipedia unter: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wireless_community_networks_by_region.

Land

Anzahl Communities
(Land, Region und Stadt)

Deutschland (Germany)

45

France

41

España (Spain)

40

Hrvatska (Croatia)

31

USA

28

Australia

14

Nederland (The Netherlands)

10

United Kingdom

7

New Zealand, Aotearoa

6

Österreich (Austria)

6

Ελλάδα (Greece)

6

Schweiz, Svizzera, Svizra, Suisse

5

België, Belgien, Belgique

3

Argentinia

2

Canada

2

Česko (Czech)

2

Colombia

2

Danmark

2

Italia

2

Србија/Srbija (Serbia)

2

Paraguáype (Paraguay)

2

South Africa

2

Cameroun

1

Ghana

1

hÉireann (Ireland)

1

Magyarország (Hungary)

1

Norge (Norway)

1

Portugal

1

Sénégal

1

Tanzania

1

नेपाल (Nepal)

1

India (Tibetan Technology Center)

1

Uruguay

1

Weitere Freifunk-Projekte nehme ich gerne auf. Bitte als Kommentar hier eintragen: http://global.freifunk.net/free_global_wireless_community.

Zur Software der Freifunk-Newswire-Site: Hierfür nutze ich einen Webserver mit Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP und das Content-Management-System Drupal (http://drupal.org) mit dem Zusatzmodul Aggregator2 (http://drupal.org/project/aggregator2).

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