Evan Prodromou's Blog

Some things I wrote

A personal clock

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Daylight saving time just switched over in Canada and the US, which always elicits collective shock that our system of telling time is arbitrary and kind of unhelpful. It made me think about other ways of measuring time that might be better.

One option is to use a simple decimal time system with a universal meridian. I’m fond of Swatch Internet Time, because it’s simple and based in the cyberutopian marketing mess of the late 1990s.

Another option is to use hyperlocal astronomical information on a local clock. When is sunrise, solar noon, sunset and solar midnight, where you are right now? What phase is the moon in? How many days since the last equinox or solstice?

A hyperlocal clock or calendar might also include natural phenomena. Here in Montreal, for example, the time when the maple sap starts to run is an important local event, which makes all the papers and the TV news. Really! Or when the amaryllis blooms in Northern California. Or maybe the frequency of buses and trains, which surge at commute times and go to nearly zero after midnight.

I think there might be an interesting next step of refinement – a personal clock that measures time according to your personal daily rhythm. It could measure things like

  • What time you “naturally” wake up
  • What time you fall asleep
  • What times you eat
  • What times you go to the bathroom
  • What days you menstruate and ovulate
  • What time is best for you to focus
  • What time is best for you to exercise
  • What time is best for sex

Knowing your own body’s regular rhythms, and your mind’s, would help you know when you are scheduling in conflict with those rhythms.

Can you realistically work 11 hours straight tomorrow? Should you plan on an 8pm dinner with a client? When can you find time to work on your latest painting?

It’d also be interesting to compare your personal clock with those of other people you live and work with. If someone on your team is on a four-meal cycle, maybe inviting them for lunch at noon doesn’t make sense, and you should instead take a walk mid-afternoon when you both need exercise.

It’d be tough to get the numbers right, though. When is the “natural” time for you to eat your first meal? The haphazard times you do it now? The time you pick on weekends or vacation, when you don’t have other time constraints? The time that you eat the most, or the time that you eat the least? Or the time that your circadian rhythm spoots out the most hunger hormones into your bloodstream?

Regardless, it feels like a personal clock indexed to your own physical and psychological needs and abilities would be a great way to look at time.

So that makes 3 clocks:

  • Decimal and universal
  • Local and astronomical
  • Personal

I think the first two might be easy to program, and the last one will be hardest. I’m interested to see if this is a project I want to put time into.

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Written by evanprodromou

March 12, 2018 at 9:28 am

Posted in Uncategorized

My 28-day 30-day challenge

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I’ve been trying to focus my side projects into discrete 30-day challenges. This is less about keeping going, and more about keeping bounded. EvanCoin is a good example of a 30-day challenge I pulled off last year.

In February 2018, I decided to focus on one of the side-projects I’d been toying with for months: headgames.blog. I’d been thinking about developing a blog about actual play RPG podcasts for a while, and concentrating that effort into a 30-day challenge would make it a little easier. (What’s an actual-play RPG podcast? It’s a podcast where people actually play a role-playing game or RPG.) Concentrating on a short month, like February, makes it even easier.

I decided to try to write a full blog post each day of the month. On Head Games, I’ve been writing reviews of episodes, explainers for podcast series, and opinion pieces on actual play RPG podcasts. I only managed to get things written 19 out of the 28 days, but it feels exhausting nevertheless.

One thing I learned is that time is of the essence when you’re trying to write for an audience. Review blog posts I wrote in the 24 hours after a podcast episode dropped were much more popular than ones I posted a few days later.

There also seems to be very focused fandoms in this area. Even though the podcasts often cover similar territory, it seems like fans of one podcast don’t really want to read about other podcasts.

It was hard doing this much writing. I got a lot less sleep in February than in January; I spent 2-3 hours a night on the computer, writing or researching each story.

And for the reviews, I only covered a half-dozen podcasts, and it felt like an effort to make them all work. I really had to listen to each episode 2-3 times in order to get detailed reviews worth writing, and sometimes I had to go back and listen to parts of old episodes to get facts straight.

But I found it really rewarding. I listen to podcasts a lot, and I don’t often talk about them. Having readers with opinions about my opinions made for some worthwhile conversations.

Now that the month is over, I’m not sure what I’ll be doing. Ideally, I’d find some partners who love a particular podcast and would like to take over the section for that one. I’m not sure how well that will work, but I think it’s the only way to make this project keep going forward.

My next 30-day challenge? Home repair. Gonna try to get some of the TODOs I’ve had for the house out of the way as we go into Spring here in Montreal.

 

Written by evanprodromou

March 1, 2018 at 3:53 pm

Posted in 30day

Dollar-cost Averaging for Cryptocurrencies

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I recommend to most people interested in investing in cryptocurrencies to use a dollar-cost averaging (DCA) strategy. DCA makes it easier to weather the volatility of cryptocurrency markets. It’s also a simple strategy that doesn’t require a lot of time or attention from the investor.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Budget an affordable amount of money from your monthly budget for each cryptocurrency you’re interested in.
  2. Choose a fixed time period for the investment, say, six months or two years.
  3. Spend that amount, each month, around the same time of the month, for the full time period.

That’s it! So, if you think you can afford $25/month to buy EvanCoin 😉 or Monero, set up a reminder for yourself in your calendar. Buy that much of the cryptocurrency you want to get.

There are a few main advantages to this strategy:

  • Ups and downs in the price of the cryptocurrency matter less to you than if you’re day trading. When the price is down, you can buy more with your $25 or $100 or whatever. When the price is up, you can’t buy as much, but your investment is also doing well. Either way, you’re happy about the investment.
  • You don’t have to watch the prices that closely.
  • You don’t find yourself worrying about buying the next new fashionable coin. You are only buying if the investment fits into your budget and you’re committed to it for the long term.
  • You gradually build up a nice cryptocurrency portfolio without breaking the bank. You’re not trying to make one big score; you’re diversifying with affordable investments across different currencies.
  • Bounding your investment for a time period means you don’t have to stress about when to continue the investment. After the time period is up, you can make the call whether to sell or hodl. If the investment is doing well, you can “reenlist” for another 6, 12, 18 or 24 months.

There are downsides, of course.

  • You’re not going to make a big score by buying at just the right time a currency that jumps 1000% over night. But that happens so rarely, it’s not worth trying to make that happen. More often, there’s a lot of stress and over-spending by people who are trying to make one big score.
  • Exchanges for buying cryptocurrencies suuuuuuuck. It’s really miserable to do any kind of trading, what with bad software and Know Your Customer anti-features. Having to make one purchase per month for each currency can feel like a real chore. Finding a good exchange can help this a lot.
  • Transaction fees can be high, and you’ll pay them multiple times. This can be pretty painful if the fees are a high percentage of your monthly investment amount.

Cryptocurrencies are risky investments based on new technology. Never invest more in any asset than you can safely afford to lose. Dollar-cost averaging can help avoid some of the risk.

Written by evanprodromou

January 23, 2018 at 12:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

What is going on with me

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I feel like I’ve been quieter online in the last few weeks than I have been in a while, so I’d like to take a few paragraphs to cover what’s been happening with me.

  • EvanCoin had a run of good press including a long article in WIRED, a mention in Bloomberg and a link in Boing Boing. I have been using EvanCoin with people for the last month, and I’ve got a lot of meetings scheduled this week and next. I’m feeling good about the whole thing.
  • My week in London for Mozfest and Amsterdam for rest was great. Reinvigorating, challenging and deep thoughts about technology and society. I’m excited about new projects.
  • It’s getting cold in Montreal.
  • Sunday was Stavy’s birthday. We had a party with six 8- to 10-year-old boys. It was exhausting. I made a piñata and a chocolate cake.
  • I had a great checkup with my doctor last week. Everything is going well, but she thinks I need to start reintroducing whole grains into my diet. So, I baked some sourdough over the weekend.
  • For my November 30-day challenge, I’m doing NaNoWriMo. I’m behind on my word count already, but I haven’t skipped a day writing yet, so I’m feeling pretty good.
  • I’ve also got a couple of personal hacking projects going on. I’m maintaining the Atom editor package for todo.txt files. I’m also building a checkin app for the network, including servers for hashtags and places.
  • On my trip to Europe, I brought an old Motorola G3 phone with CyanogenMod on it. I’ve upgraded it to LineageOS, but left out all the Google apps, including the Play Store. So I’ve just been using mobile web apps or Open Source apps that I can get on F-Droid or on the web. Great experience so far, although there are a few apps I miss.

That feels like a lot, but at least I’m caught up. Hello, world.

Written by evanprodromou

November 7, 2017 at 8:46 am

Posted in Uncategorized

The health of the Internet

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My friend Ian Forrester asked me for my thoughts a few months ago about the Internet Health Report that Mozilla published earlier this year. If you haven’t read it yet, I strongly suggest you scan the site. It’s a great document that covers some important issues with the Internet — what makes it strong, and what work is needed.

I especially like the 5 pillars of a healthy Internet: open innovation, digital inclusion, decentralization, privacy and security, and Web literacy. There are great examples in each area on the health report covering some of the historically important issues that organizations like Mozilla and its allies have addressed.

But I have some issues that are important to me personally that I felt were not called out in this list. They’re mostly forward-looking; paying attention to parts of the Internet that are just emerging.

  1. AI. This is what I care about most. Current AI techniques require having lots of data, which limits the number of participants. It’s mostly governments and big commercial orgs creating and deploying AI today. Individuals, ad-hoc groups and non-profits hardly use it at all. That’s going to cause quite a skew over the next decade.
  2. VR. VR is sliding very much into closed systems like Steam or the Google Play Store. There are not open VR explorer systems in wide use. WebVR is a good first step, but we need to see more deployment and usage.
  3. Voice interfaces. Siri and Google Assistant are hugely centralized system; there are only a few other players. They are not open systems; it’s hard for developers to add new behaviours to Siri, for example. And it’s almost impossible for end users to correct voice interfaces (“No, that’s not ian’s email address”) or do end-user programming (“tell me any time ian sends me an email about mozfest”). The fact that most speech-to-text systems are cloud-based (everything you say gets sent to the cloud for recognition) is a potential nightmare for privacy.
  4. Touch-based software creation. Almost every interface in computing has changed radically since the 1950s with the exception of software creation. We still use an antiquated model of creating text files and running them through a compiler or interpreter. But most computer users today use touch-screen devices. Why don’t we have more touch-based software creation tools?
  5. Dating! I realize it seems trivial to some people, but romance and sexuality are a huge part of human existence. Many major dating sites are owned by a single company (IAC). The network effect make decentralized dating very hard to pull off. It’s an area that requires privacy and gradual disclosure. Open dating systems would be fascinating — posting one or more profiles on the open web in a way that preserves your privacy but allows gradual disclosure and connection.

I think there’s a lot more that needs to be addressed. I’m facilitating sessions on democratizing AI and on open dating as well as giving an update on the ActivityPub network at Mozfest 2017 this weekend.

Written by evanprodromou

October 27, 2017 at 7:54 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Birthday Inventory 2017

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Tomorrow, October 14, 2017, will be my 49th birthday. Before I start getting bombarded with AI-prompted well-wishing I thought I’d take a few moments to do a personal inventory at this point in my life. Warning: personal stuff ahead.

  • Family. I’ve been lucky to have two great kids, healthy and relatively happy, and a great relationship at home. My home life is an anchor for me.
    • Amita, 12, started high school this year. She’s confident and independent, and I’m very proud of her. We have an increasing distance between us, but I’m trying to find ways to spend more time with her. I want to share what little I know about the world with her before she has to face it all on her own.
    • Stavy turns 9 in a few weeks. He’s intense, thoughtful, moody. He’s also my closest friend. He has recently changed schools and it seems to have made his life a lot easier. I hope as a dad I can keep being helpful to him.
    • My relationship with my wife Maj is remarkably good, considering how busy we both are. She has been traveling for work and pleasure more than any other time in our marriage, and I think it’s giving her a chance to understand what she can make of her life with semi-independent tweens and teens. And I’ve been working hard on my company, which makes it hard to have time together. We’ve had to work harder this year to spend time together than ever before.
    • My other family — parents, brothers, in-laws, and more distant relatives — are all doing well, but they’re all far away. My mom and dad are happy in their home in Half Moon Bay, and my brothers and in-laws are either raising families or having adventures. I miss seeing them, but I know they’re just an email or phone call away.
  • Life’s purpose. William Gibson said, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” I’m still unsure what my point of being on this earth is, but I think at least part of it is evening up that distribution.
    • In the last few years, that’s primarily meant working on more democratic access to artificial intelligence with my company, Fuzzy.ai. Although I’ve been somewhat happy with our work here, our recent turn to targeting enterprise development has meant we’ve fallen off in this mission somewhat.
    • Additionally, my work on distributed and federated social networks continues, primarily through standardization at the W3C. We finished Activity Streams 2.0 this year, and it looks like ActivityPub will launch this year too. I’m excited by these options, but I’m also exhausted by the work that’s gone into them. I hope I can maintain the energy to keep working on them.
    • I feel pulled by lots of good ideas that I don’t have time to implement or even write about. I’m trying to keep myself focused on what’s important, but there’s always a temptation to procrastinate with the fun of launching a new project. One of my big challenges is knowing how to only start things I can finish.
  • Health. My health is at an all-time high in fall of 2017. I’ve got a BMI that varies between 24 and 25, which is lower than I’ve ever had it. But the effort to keep myself at this level of health is intense. I’ve been on a low-carb diet for the last 5 months, and I’ve got a pretty intense 7-day exercise regimen that takes up at least 1-2 hours a day. That said, I still feel like the trade-off is worth it, and I’m excited at the opportunity to enter my 50s with a physically fit body.
    • In terms of mental health, I have been working hard to get myself in a more calm and less irritable space over the last year. Partly this has been about moderating my caffeine intake by reducing how much coffee I drink. Partly it’s been exercise and meditation, which have given me more peace of mind. But it continues to be a struggle, and I use harsh words with people more often than I’d like.
    • Weirdly and kind of embarrassingly, dental health has been a big issue for me this year. I’ve always been a lazy brusher, just trying to get my breath fresh, and an occasional dental patient. This year, I got a new dentist and an assiduo flossing/brushing/mouthwash regimen with quarterly cleanings and checkups. It feels great.
  • Friendships. This is a place I continue to be disappointed in myself. I think friendships are important, but I usually put them last, well behind my family and my work. I have a few friends that mean a lot to me and that I spend personal time with, but I have a lot of others that I never seem to get the time to see.
    • I also have a large and active number of friends on Facebook. It’s pretty typical for me to get hundreds of reactions to a post, which is satisfying but ultimately not as fulfilling as in-person meetings.
    • I also feel disconnected from a community of tech-minded people that I felt I had over the last decade. I think partly this has been changes in my priorities, and partly a change in the state of the world. It’s just not that unique to be interested in social software any more, for example. It doesn’t hold us together like it used to. There’s also been a drop-off in some of my favourite conferences and meetups, like YxYY and XOXO.
  • Finances. I have a good job doing what I love. That said, I still remain very reactive in terms of personal finance — “What, that bill is due?” “Oh, there’s an opportunity there?” Maj and I have been doing some more long-term planning this year, which has been helpful for both of us, but I’d like to make a more proactive approach to personal finance one of my goals for the next year.
  • Politics. For the United States, I’ve been worried about the current state of the union since last year’s election. On my birthday in 2016, I thought we’d have our first-ever female president. Now, I worry that we’ll have our first-ever nuclear war. My only solace has been that disunity in the party in power, plus vocal opposition, has kept the worst abuses to a minimum. In Quebec, I worry about rising ethnic nationalism, especially Islamophobia. As a non-citizen resident, I feel somewhat powerless to participate or comment, but it really concerns me. I think that this will be the year that I become a dual citizen, if only to be more participative in this process.
    Mostly I’m concerned that there are big, earth-shattering issues coming over the horizon in the next few decades which aren’t being addressed strategically. Problems of social equity, economic change, climate instability. Opportunities in technology, space travel, health care and transportation, international cooperation. I’m sorry to see the news driven by he-said-she-said Twitter battles, rather than discussion of policies on how to make our world better.
  • Business. Fuzzy.ai continues to be a fascinating and frustrating endeavour. As with any startup company, there are highs and lows every single day. Since this isn’t my first or even fifth time at the rodeo, I’m a little inured to the ups and downs, but I feel like that might be keeping me from engaging fully. All that said, I believe in the Fuzzy.ai mission deeply in my core, which makes coming to work and building cool AI software really worthwhile and satisfying. It aligns with my life’s goal very well.
    • On a similar front, working on building the AI ecosystem in Montreal has proven really rewarding. There are a lot of people involved in AI here, and a lot of different players — academic, commercial, governmental. I’ve been trying to lend a hand when and where I can, because this seems like a unique opportunity for a city I love.
  • Hobbies. Personally, I’m finding a lot of satisfaction in my side-projects and hobbies. I’ve also been doing a lot of exercise — running, biking, etc. — and getting some other sports like hiking and skiing in with my family.
    • Since I’ve gone low-carb I haven’t been baking bread as much as I used to, but I’ve been pickling and making jams and jellies, which is equally chemistry-ish and fun. I’ve also been using my smoker a lot. Finally, I’ve added special nights to our weekly calendar for cuisines I want to work on. Jerusalem Night and Texas Night are both times for me to try new dishes or perfect old favorites. It’s a lot more work than I thought it would be.
      Unfinished tech projects continue to be a vice — I’ve been trying lately to focus these around 30-day cycles, so I can get them started, launched, and then either support them or let them go. But there are still a lot of loose wires and peripherals around my desk at home.I’ve also had some time for personal travel this year. I went to YxYY in July, and I leave for a week-long trip to London and Amsterdam next week. Mostly I’m looking forward to a Mediterranean heritage trip next fall, traveling to Alexandria, Jerusalem, Istanbul and Athens. Personal travel isn’t as big a part of my life as it used to be, but I’m trying to include more of it in my schedule.
  • Media. Like most middle-aged people, I struggle with keeping up with new books, music, and film. The addictive nature of nostalgia makes it too easy to turn back to things I know from years gone by.
    • Like, again, many other middle-aged people, the one medium I manage to stay up-to-date on is television, which takes up much more of my time than I’m happy with. But it’s always right there, and it’s always really good. As someone who remembers garbage TV as the de facto norm, it really feels like we’re living in a golden age.
    • I continue to be fascinated with podcasts, to a fault. This year I trimmed my listening list only to actual-play RPG podcasts, and I’ve been trying to write reviews on headgames.blog but I’ve slacked off in recent weeks and I’ve been having a hard time catching back up.

That feels like a lot, and yet I know there’s a lot more to write. I know that I have a good life, and I’m happy with where I am. I’ll continue to work on making my life better, though.

Written by evanprodromou

October 13, 2017 at 11:44 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Wikipedia is a two-way street

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tl;dr Publishers that re-use Wikipedia content, like Apple and Microsoft and Amazon and Google, have an obligation to include an easy way to edit that content.

I’ve had a ton of fun over the last couple of days at the Wikimania 2017 conference in Montreal. The event brought together 900 people from around the world involved in Wikipedia in many languages, related Wikimedia projects like Wiktionary and Wikivoyage, and allied organizations like Creative Commons and Mozilla. I was fortunate enough to moderate the keynote address between my friends Jimmy Wales and Biella Coleman, and then spent the rest of the weekend thinking and talking about Wikipedia and friends.

(I’ve been especially interested in Wikidata, a huge knowledge base chock full of important facts in machine-readable format. It’s a deliciously interesting project, and I anticipate that a lot of the cooler hacks in the next few years are going to use data from Wikidata. Learn SPARQL now, folks.)

One thing that struck me about the event is that Wikipedia has become the de facto authoritative source for information in the modern world. Let me say that again: Wikipedia is the authoritative source. What is on Wikipedia is your best introduction to literally any topic on earth. It might be the only information you need.

This is mind-boggling, but mostly because it has become true for me, and maybe for everyone, without a lot of fanfare. For me, it’s been a gradual process of always looking for the Wikipedia link in search results, or going straight to Wikipedia if I’m interested in some topic. For the rest of us, it’s meant that whenever a question is asked on almost any subject, our software systems will typically turn to Wikipedia in order to get an answer.

But along with this development has come a more sinister one — one that is a huge potential problem for literally everyone on the Internet. Here’s the problem: Wikipedia users are being impeded from editing Wikipedia.

A wiki depends on active participation from its readers. Readers must be able to create and modify content on the site, because they are the defense against abuse and misinformation. Only if vigilant readers carefully review content on the wiki, and can easily create new content, does the information stay relevant or even correct.

That may not seem like a big deal to you, but let me make this absolutely clear, as someone who has founded and managed a big wiki: it is literally invaluable. Increasing participation is one of the most important goals of the Wikimedia Foundation and anyone running a wiki of any size.

Editing Wikipedia isn’t just a right; it’s a responsibility. It’s something we owe to each other and to our children and grandchildren. Wikipedia is our common cultural heritage, created and managed by all of us. It may be the most important cultural artifact ever created by human beings. Which is why it’s such a tragedy that Wikipedia users are being impeded from editing Wikipedia.

It’s not by repressive governments, either. It’s by companies that are re-publishing Wikipedia in other formats, and intentionally making it difficult for those users to contribute back to the project.

Short-circuited by search

Here’s an example from a Google search I just did for Pytheas of Massalia:

pytheas-results

As you can see, on the left there’s a link right to the “Pytheas” article on Wikipedia. Clicking on that link will take you to a page like this:

pytheas-wikipedia

Importantly, there’s an Edit button on that page. Anybody can edit this article — improve the grammar, make a factual correction, or reflow the prose for easier reading. That edit button is what makes the rest of the site worth using.

On the right in the Google results, is a summary of the data on that Wikipedia article — put there so that casual readers can get a quick review without having to go to the Wikipedia site. Let’s focus in on that interface:

pytheas-box

This information comes from Wikipedia. When you look at this information, you are a Wikipedia user. You can see that there’s no indication that this information could possibly be edited by the current user, and no affordance to edit it. Every user who sees this interface has been misinformed about their right and responsibility to maintain that article.

I like Google. I have friends who work at Google. Google is an excellent supporter of Open Source software and Open Content projects like Wikipedia. They were a sponsor of the Wikimania conference I attended this weekend. But by intentionally keeping users from going to the Wikipedia web site, without providing an alternative way to contribute, they are doing harm to the Wikipedia project and thus to humanity.

I know, that sounds crazy. But it really is that important.

There is a lot of room in that interface for an “edit” button. It would be the work of an afternoon to add it in. (I know, nothing’s ever that easy, especially in a large software project, but it is a simple syntactic transformation to make a link to the edit page of an Wikipedia article if you know its title.) It would be reasonable to add it with a Google Chrome extension or even a Greasemonkey script, but it’s important that Google add it for less sophisticated users.

Let me point out before the license lawyers get riled up that as far as I know Google is under no legal obligation to include an edit link here. Nothing in the copyleft licenses used by Wikipedia requires them to link to the edit page.

What does impel them to do it, though, is an obligation to make Wikipedia better. That’s both altruistic (helping humanity by making a better source of information) and selfish (improved information on Wikipedia means improved infoboxes on their search results). Google has every incentive to make this interface include some way to edit.

Social Graph

It’s also worth noting that Facebook maintains a mirror of every single Wikipedia article in their system. Here’s the one for Pytheas:

pytheas-facebook

You might think that the “Suggest Edits” link would take you to Wikipedia to edit this content. Actually, it’s just the standard editing interface for any page, letting you suggest Pytheas’s phone number and home page. And, y’know, you can send a message to Pytheas on Facebook Messenger, but don’t wait too long for an answer, since he’s been dead for 2300 years.

The Voice of Reason

Another, more troubling unidirectional interface for Wikipedia and Wikidata content is the increasingly important voice assistant interface. Four major ones exist: Amazon’s Echo (“Alexa”), Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Google Assistant. (I like the Free Software Mycroft system, but you probably guessed that already.)

All of these use Wikipedia content to answer questions by users. Some of them (Siri and Google — I don’t know about Echo and Cortana) also use Wikidata for answering questions.

None of these systems include a way to edit the articles or data.

Voice assistants are becoming more popular every day. Every user of a recent iOS or Android device has access to the respective assistant on that platform. That is a huge number of people.

But the interfaces don’t include a mechanism for editing articles or items. There’s not any way to tell Siri, “No, Siri, George Washington was born in 1732, not 1742,” and get a meaningful action out of the assistant.

Is that an important part of Siri’s interaction with end users? I, for one, find it really frustrating when I talk to someone and they won’t listen to what I have to say back to them, or won’t learn from my response. The one-way flow of information with voice assistants is one reason I’m not a big user… and you may not be, either.

What is important is that, as voice assistants become a primary way for people to interact with Wikipedia content, they must be able to contribute back to the wiki. Remember: it’s not just a right, it’s a responsibility.

Getting to Yes

I think it’s important that the Wikimedia Foundation, and the hundreds of millions (possibly billions) of Wikipedia users, and the billions of people for whom Wikipedia is an artifact of inestimable value, make it clear to these publishers that they need to start treating Wikipedia’s editing functionality seriously.

I know it’s not easy building reliable interfaces to editing systems, and that novice users might get confused by editing capabilities. I’m aware that some people will intentionally or unintentionally add incorrect or unclear information.

It’s important to know that Wikipedia is totally ready for that. For the last 15+ years, Wikipedians have been developing social and technological systems to make it easy for new editors to contribute and to gently dissuade bad actors from corrupting our cultural treasure (or repairing it quickly if it does get damaged).

Wikipedia is a two-way street. Treating it as a source for information without providing an easy way to edit is a disservice to everyone: readers, contributors, the Foundation, and humanity as a whole. Publishers need to stop putting up barriers to editing Wikipedia, and start putting up edit buttons everywhere they can.

Written by evanprodromou

August 14, 2017 at 5:11 pm

Posted in wikipedia