Note: This post is quite old. In fact Wikidata can now be accessed “properly” via the Wikidata Query Service (WDQS). However the techniques outlined below still have their advantages.
The inaugural Wiki Research Hackathon went very well, and I’m affirmed that I feel best when I’m conducting Wiki Research. I was asked to give one of the tech talks of the day about accessing Wikidata data programmatically. Here is an outline of the talk
We’ll be viewing Wikidata as file in its own right for research, not as it’s canonical use case of being used in various Wikipedias.
Wikidata is a mostly standard Mediawiki instance except that pages don’t store “Wikitext”, they store JSON blobs.… Read the rest
In my early software education, I’d been taught about how untested software could result in deadly radiation-therapy machines. But since I never planned to be in the medical devices industry, these sort of warnings didn’t apply to me – after all I was only writing Wikipedia bots. But this week I was proved wrong when another Wikipedian messaged me with a query unlike any I’d received before (empahsis mine):
Hi Max, I’ve pinged you a couple of times, but in case you’re not getting them, would you mind commenting?
It’s about an edit your bot made to Wikidata that changed the infobox of a featured article about a book about the Holocaust, Night.
I first discovered Why? in the same way that all new music came to me in my teenage years, pen-pal-ship with my best friend Daniel Cohen. I’d wanted to retain my friends and life when I was stripped from England in ’99, and between annual visits, emails filled in the gaps for us. (In retrospect this comments on the history of chat technology, youngsters able to figure it out around the millennium.) An early symbol of my empathetic practice, in 2004 electro-mails I basically asked Dan questions that Pitchfork media was answering. I’m not taking credit for his current success as a reviewing journalist, but I think he relished the task and I gave him plenty of practice.… Read the rest
While Ceephax has exposed me to a hyperactive, ultrajoyful side of myself, Why? has shown me how to cope with inexorable loss of impermanent identities. Just today I was going to go to an event I’d been looking forward to for over a year; the Stupor Bowl is a 50 mile bike ride in Minneapolis, stopping at 9 bars, and on the coldest day of the year. But after ceding a pool table yesterday to a man who my friends told me looked very much like myself, due to his moustache and cycling jacket, I became paralyzed by the self-awareness of my new identity.… Read the rest
In this Ceephax Acid Crew Live youtube video there’s a comment which says “Love that one guy going nuts.” And it’s true, there is a guy in the front of the crowd feeling the music and letting his body follow. That’s not a particularly amazing fact to many people, but to me its a revelation on a virality with which I’m infected. Because just 24 hours earlier, I was that person in the front.
24 hours even before I was going nuts, I was getting nervous. Ceephax was playing at the Science Museum in San Francisco, and this would be my first opportunity to see him in the flesh.… Read the rest
I didn’t like the Dyson Airblade at first. Its slick futuristic form with neon yellow striping gives the visual indication that it will instantly dry your hands, which it doesn’t. It takes 12 seconds. Still, I claim this represents a revolution. The watch-a-microwave-tick-down waiting time is a small price to pay for leaving the tiled room with hands truly free of water, rather than the less-wet state my whole life prior to this invention taught me was normal.
To understand why the Airblade represents such a leap forward in hand-drying technology, we have to understand the past that Dyson was trying to escape.… Read the rest
The very first time I heard it I was immediately convinced by Killer Mike’s un-festschrift “Reagan”. It’s a lucid, orchestrated, and damning exposé of what Reagan’s legacy has meant for less privileged people in America “[…] thanks to Reaganomics, prisons turned to profits
Cause free labor is the cornerstone of US economics”. However as much I appreciate what Killer Mike spits, and specifically how he’s spitting it, I never felt I could fully connect with the message having never been directly effected by Reagan’s policies – until now.
The Cyberwizard Institute (CWI) was a free programming school based out of Sudo Room, running for the month of January 2015. The proclamation that I saw on their website before I volunteered to teach there was:
The idea is to be an anti-bootcamp. Anyone can participate. It’s free. We’re going to try hard to have lecture notes, assignments, and lecture livestreams up online. It will be primarily self-directed, but with guidance from higher level wizards.
As a founding member of sudoroom since 2011, but suffering from a recent malaise in my hacktivism, this was the perfect project to reinvigorate my involvement.… Read the rest