Am I a dog? Vote Now

April 22, 2014

When I wasn’t trying to solve the fiendishly difficult Easter Clue Hunt my kids set for us, I spent a pleasant hour or two re-discovering the original wiki, started by Ward Cunningham in 1995. It still feels fun and anarchic and useful. Another day I will start a rant on what is and isn’t a wiki .. but meanwhile … one thing that struck me is that the community policy is Real Names Please. This seems to run counter to standard Internet sociology. What many people love about the Internet is that nobody knows you are a dog. On the other hand, maybe hiding behind anonymity is what leads to the nastier sides of the internet, like trolling. I note that I just made a couple of wikipedia links there. Now the folks that edit wikipedia are by and large a sane and well behaved community, but most usernames have almost no information, or little that tells you whether to trust this particular editor. I can see that one wants to avoid things getting personal, but its far too easy to make sock-puppets.

My instinct is that openness and transparency is good. I always sign my referees reports. (So if you just got a mean one that you suspect is me, it isn’t!!) On the other hand, from various experiences of friends and colleagues, I am well aware that sometimes you need privacy. And of course we need the possibility to blow that whistle without the secret police knocking on the door etc. But how common is all that? Enough. Lets do a poll thingy. Which of these is closest to your opinion?

 


SKA leak

March 11, 2012

Following the earlier teaser, rumours about the SKA site recommendation are leaking out through the press. South Africa has gone into a clear lead. Note careful use of word “recommendation”. An expert committee has made an evaluation on scientific and technical grounds, but the real decision is with the SKA Board, with voting members from China, UK, the Netherlands, and Italy. Firstly, there are quite properly financial, management, and political issues to consider. Secondly, the technical evaluation was apparently quite close. So the fat lady ain’t sung yet, but I guess if you are on your way to the bookies, you will find the Australian odds somewhat lengthened.

The leak appeared first in the Sydney Morning Herald. There is a video interview at that link with somebody called Dan Flitton, who seems to be the channel rather than the source of the leak. Official sources are of course doing the no-comment thing, but nobody seems to have denied Flitton’s statement, and the story has been repeated – in South Africa, in Business Day  and the Mail and Guardian ; on the BBC news site; and in Nature News. The Nature article implies that they have their own source. Its all interestingly different from earlier rumours of a possible merger.

Its now spreading round the usual news re-cyclers and aggregators, with nothing new as far as I can tell. Slashdot has a classic internet style discussion. All sorts of random gibberish, misundertandings, and vileness, with the odd genuine insight sprinkled in, including some suggestions of the technical pros and cons. Take a look if you feel up to holding your nose as you wade past the trolls.

Anyhoo. Board meets April 4th. Albert, JW, you may decline to comment of course.

À suivre, as our French chums say.