"Books, Records, Films -- these things matter. Call me shallow but it's the damn truth." - High Fidelity

June 29, 2012

A Call for a Distributed Wikipedia

I'm tired of seeing Jimmy Wales's face when I go to wikipedia.  He's not the subject of the article Bridges and tunnels in New York City and when I go there, I shouldn't see his picture, I should see a picture of a Bridge or a Tunnel, preferably in New York City.

It's time for wikipedia to grow up and leave the webpage model behind.  This same arguement also works for facebook, but I'm going to talk about Wikipedia today.  Now first, be forewarned.  I don't really know how to actually do any of this.  I'm sure there's some very complicated technical reasons why my solution shouldn't be implemented immedately, but then again I'm sure there's also some thought laziness and entrenched ideas trying to keep the genie locked in the bottle. Forewarned, I'm technically a historian who dabbles in technology, but I've also studied a bit of english, so I'm full of the bullshit, lock stock and ready to go.

First let's talk about the problem.

1. Wikipedia uses a lot of web traffic.

2. Web Traffic costs money

3. Wikipedia feels the need to put Jimmy Wales' face on every wikipedia page, annoying myself and countless others.*

I'm bored with the problem.  Let's talk about the solution.

What is a Distributed Wikipedia?  
- A distributed wikipedia is an encylopedia that you share.  
- You download a copy and then host the copy for others.
- An "open graph" for wikipedia articles.

How would I make one?  
 - Package the wikipedia into individual article packages.
 - Package the wikipedia into subject based packages.
 - Create a program where users could torrent and host the packages.
 - Create a browser plugin that would search the local wikipedia first and when the information is current, direct the user to their local copy of the wikipedia.

How would I use one?  
You would use the Distributed Wikipedia just like the normal one.  You'd search, and the computer would direct you to the local copy.  When breaking news is occuring, you'd be directed to the live wikipedia, although at some point the torrent updating program could be so fast that it wouldn't matter.  (in fact you'd probably be downloading valueable information as more people would be able to track and store the changes as they occur.)

How would it be different?
Wikipedia would not have to buy so many servers and use so much web traffic.  Most importantly they could stop putting Jimmy Wales's face on every single page (which itself is an ironic waste of web traffic).

Other solutions, how would this work for eliminating facebook?
Once the distributed "article" (information) publishing system has been created, an encrypted version will be able to easily rise up and kill facebook.  A true social network, where you store a copy of your friends information (even "blacknet/dark information" that they could encrypt and you couldn't see) is the obvious solution to the facebook privacy problem. (yes, there are risks in new software and could be viruses and breakins, but the current situation where one company owns all of your information and it's not encrypted isn't really acceptable in the long run while encryption technology still exists.  At a certain point, people will wake up from the spell of post-privacy and demand a return to reasonable privacy, or at the very least the technology will present itself that will make the change transparent to them, and perhaps all the advertising data generated in this period will be used for graduate studies into turn of the century Americana.)  

Again, I'm not a computer scientist, but I would like to start a process of describing this until someone invents it.  Thank you.  (this has worked before when I started describing an app that would allow me to check off habits everyday and keep track of streaks and then found the incredible "Habit App".)

* This is due to their totally awesome and lauditority stand against advertising.  Advertising is the worst kind of anti-information and Wales & co. have a bold and righteous position in their anti-anti-information stand.  Wikipedia should be about information first and foremost.  Fuck Advertising.  (that said, everything I've got is covered with ads right now because I'm unemployed and poor and begging for pennies.  please click away and buy from my sponsers whoever the great google chooses them to be.  Full disclosure I've been totally and adfree and unpopular for over a decade.  If all those pennies I ignored could have turned blogging into a second job and made me understand how to generate page views and audience like the Oatmeal, maybe I wouldn't be so poor and I could just sit and think and help people for a job, explain things.)

Clipping Limits Delenda Est!

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