Monthly Archives: February 2009

A Random Walk around Mediocrity

Lawrence M. Sanger, who co-founded Wikipedia and Citizendium, has published an article which explains perfectly why I don’t usually bother contributing to Wikipedia (p. 64):

Over the long term, the quality of a given Wikipedia article will do a random walk around the highest level of quality permitted by the most persistent and aggressive people who follow an article.

[…]

The difficulty, as many disaffected Wikipedians have discovered, is that there are far too many articles persistently “managed” by aggressive individuals who will simply not let it improve in certain respects. In disputes, these persons tend to drive off more knowledgeable people, thereby keeping the quality of articles low.

Yep, that’s it. I’ve seen this phenomenon play out several times. Someone who is factually and demonstrably wrong but passionate about a Wikipedia page will edit out anything which does not correspond to his incorrect views. There have been very many times I decided to not correct Wikipedia pages because I just do not have the luxury of wasting time. If I knew the improvements I make would not be undone by someone who obviously does not know what he is talking about, I would spend time editing because the time thus spent would not be wasted. I’m just not interested in spending precious time writing thoughtfully about a subject to then have some random guy who thinks he knows better mess it up or delete it entirely. Wikipedia apologists will say that it is always possible to discuss the edit in the Talk page. True, but that does not solve the problem. It makes it worse because it means trying to convince someone who has given up on critical thinking that his opinion is incorrect. This means wasting even more time. So I’ll leave it to other people to participate in the random walk. My view on the topic can be summarized as:

Editing Wikipedia is a waste of time.

You have to take that statement in context. It means that the time I could spend on Wikipedia is better spent elsewhere. There is always something to write elsewhere or something to read or some software to improve or something else I can do with my time which will be more fruitful than engaging in a futile edit war with some ill-informed guy.

Happy and Relieved: Olivia is Born.

I’m happy and relieved because I learned about an hour ago that my step-granddaughter, Olivia, was born without complications. Due to the fact that I’m on the opposite end of the globe doing research, my wife has been using her Blackberry to keep me informed of the developments by email. I was quite worried after I received word that my step-daughter would have to undergo a c-section. I have serious reserves about how doctors in the West currently manage births and I was not happy to learn that a c-section was in my step-daughter’s future. At any rate, it has gone well. I’m glad that ordeal is over.

Suchita Parte

Suchita Parte is the first artist I am sponsoring.

Now, let me be blunt. A good deal of singing in Sanskrit sounds very stuffy. I’m talking about work which is technically flawless but sounds like it has been recorded 2000 years ago. It is fine but it does not sound very engaging. And this is a best case scenario because additionally there are the atrocious recordings of Westerners who took one Sanskrit class one day and then styled themselves Sanskrit signers. Their heavy Western accent sucks all the elegance out of Sanskrit.

Suchita Parte has broken out of the old stuffy molds. Her singing is grounded in tradition but not confined by it. Her rendition of Vedasārashivastotram is the most beautiful I’ve heard. You can listen to it and to her entire album on Magnatune.

Sponsored Artists

I’ve added a new category of links and a new category of posts to publicize the artists I sponsor. The idea is similar to the “Sponsored OSS” box I recently added. The Sponsored Artist category will only include artists who meet two criteria. First, they have to make their work available on the Internet without any DRM. I’m not interested in those who sell DRM-encumbered files. Second, they have to produce music I like so much that I want to pay for it. This is why I call this “sponsorship”. I could be taking their music and not pay anything but artists have to live. So I’m sponsoring them by paying for their music even though there is no mechanism in place to force me to pay. Reread this last sentence 200 times and it’ll start to make sense.

Update: I wrote the post saying “music” because I had music in mind when I wrote my post. It could eventually also cover books, movies, etc.

Master Sheng-yen passed away

The founder and spiritual head of Dharma Drum Mountain, Master Sheng-yen, passed away today.

As I was heading towards the dinning hall for supper, I ran into people lined up by the path leading to Master Sheng-yen’s residence. They looked damn serious and were standing there with folded hands. I guessed that Master Sheng-yen had passed away. As soon as I got a chance to talk to Weijen, he confirmed my guess.

阿彌陀佛