Saturday, September 5, 2009

I read the news today oh boy

If by "today" you mean "last week" then yes, I read the news. A few highlights:

The Necktie: An Energy Vampire

Sheik Hasina has no patience
for impracticality

Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangaldesh, is fed up with men wasting all the electricity. She recently ordered all government employess to stop wearing ties and suit jackets and to leave their shirts untucked in an effort to decrease cooling costs in government buildings. Analysts are hoping that private sector businesses will follow the government's examples and that a "Just Say No to Ties" program will help ease Bangladesh's energy shortage woes.

The Jolly Green Giants, a U.S. environmentalist advocacy group, is pushing for similiar measures in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and throughout the southern states. If we don't act sooner, spokesperson Bruce Banner warns, the day may come when video game time is "rationed like sugar during World War Two. Which would you rather give up--a tie now or your Wii time later?"

A White Flag in Academia

When Larry Sanger proposed the idea of incorporating a wiki element as a feeder into the academically-oriented (now defunct) Nupedia project, objections were so strong that the project had to be split off under a separate domain name lest it taint the Nupedia project by association. Academics and educators have remained predominantly critical of the project in the intervening years, even as the number of wikipedia articles and readers has multiplied into the millions and wikipedia has risen to the top of Google's search results on most subjects.

Dr. Chatterjee wants to end the war between
traditional academics and Web 2.0 models
for sharing knowledge. Sheikh Hasina thinks
he should take off his tie & jacket first.

Ramesh Chatterjee, President of Rajput University, is looking to change that. He recently approved a change in campus policy that requires professors to spend at least one hour per week editing wikipedia. "We've been warning students against this long enough" he said in his subsequent message to the faculty. "The idea of a hypertext-based universal encyclopedia is so powerful, they will continue to turn to it first for information. It's time we did our part to ensure that the formal and informal students of the world get the best possible information at the place of their choice." Academic Vice President Sayed Multan added "If enough institutions follow our lead, significant portions of wikipedia will become de facto peer-reviewed. We can also increase the number of references to premier journals and research in our respective fields, showing their role in the formation of human knowledge."

The change is not without critics, however. In addition to classical concerns about the value of creating a strong dividing line between academic and popular knowledge, some have expressed concerns about the future repurcussions of institutions paying employees to edit the open encyclopedia. "Any institution paying employees to edit the world's most popular reference work is effectively buying influence" says democracy advocate Tom Lin. "Are we really comforable with putting our view of the world up for sale?"

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