Brewster Kahle: what I think we’re missing out there are tools for context and citation

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necessarily know about so Wikipedia is
still primarily created by Western young
male contributors they tell the story of
you know the worst knowledge from an
extremely limited and privileged
standpoint there are ridiculous gaps in
this knowledge and then skews what a my
favorite example is that there are
20,000 articles on French Wikipedia
about individual asteroids but a
language like Hausa that is spoken by 30
million people in Central Africa doesn’t
have an entry on the universe so if you
think that the the sum of all knowledge
representing Wikipedia and you look at
where it comes from and who created it
it’s ridiculously skewed and slanted
towards the demographic of the
contributors the problem with that is
not just with Wikipedia Wikipedia not
many people they know but the contents
get translated into our
d/f via a project like dbpedia they’re
then propagated to the rest of the
internet and basically every single
linked data system they used today what
is like a search engine for music or
biomedical information gets its entities
gets is like a fundamental relations
from Wikipedia so biasing by us out the
fact that is a small population of
contributors that are creating data and
information that powers the entire
ecosystem that AI relies upon I think
the fundamental problem that we all
should be worried about I’ve been very
encouraged by watching some of the
studies of how people use the web people
are very particular and very peculiar
nobody wakes up in the morning saying
hey I want to live a biased life or hey
I really want to go to the biased and
unfair news channel what I think we’re
missing out there are tools for context
and citation we’ve made it hard for
people to actually know what the hell
they’re looking at that we’ve made it so
that it’s really difficult to go and
understand is this some babble that just
has been bouncing around for a long time
and long discredited or is this um
something that actually is real and I
have trusted sources behind it
so I’m encouraged by people want to have
access to this stuff the Internet
Archive gets three four or five million
people a day coming and using its
service as best we can tell it’s about
the three hundredth most popular is is
about the first the fifth most popular
okay I’m a little envious um but it does
indicate that there’s a lot of interest
in finding deeper information than it’s
casually available so people want it
that’s the good news
now we need to build some of the tools I
would suggest for citation for context
and embed it and that’s what this whole
conference is about I’m really glad to
be here
sorry one last note on context I think
you’ve gotten to the heart of a really
really big problem which we missed out
on the entire problem of knowledge
production is about context not just
merely switching from one platform to
another but you know to take a perhaps a
banal example at a researcher who read a
paper of a lab that performed a set of
experimental conditions that requires a
context change for if you are working on
a different organism if even if you’re
trying to validate and reproduce those
results that is a context change which
requires translations so big new big
problem we should definitely work on
this I think with that we will wrap it
up and just want to say thanks to the
panelists and for coming up here and

Money and Debt and Digital Contracts – Brewster Kahle at Devcon 5

The dreams of cryptocurrencies tend to focus on money and seem to avoid the topic, repercussions, and significance of debt. In fiat currencies, 95% of all money is matched with debt — in other words, debt creates 95% of all money. This talk aims to bring the impact of debt into the Ethereum conversation, specifically focusing on debt with interest. Let’s consider this side of crypto coins and Ethereum in particular since it provides the ability to encode obligations as contracts and therefore can encode debt obligations.

Internet Archive Fends Off Secret FBI Order in Latest Victory Against NSLs Dec. 2, 2016

A decade ago, the FBI sent Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, a now-infamous type of subpoena known as a National Security Letter, demanding the name, address and activity record of a registered Internet Archive user. The letter came with an everlasting gag order, barring Kahle from discussing the order with anyone but his attorney — not even his wife could know.

The Internet Archive Is Making Wikipedia More Reliable

The operator of the Wayback Machine allows Wikipedia’s users to check citations from books as well as the web.

Wikipedia is the arbiter of truth on the internet. It’s what settles arguments at bars. It supplies answers for the information snippets you see on your Google or Bing search results. It’s the first stop for nearly everyone doing online research.

The reason people rely on Wikipedia, despite its imperfections, is that every claim is supposed to have citations. Any sentence that isn’t backed up with a credible source risks being slapped with the dreaded “citation needed” label. Anyone can check out those citations to learn more about a subject, or verify that those sources actually say what a particular Wikipedia entry claims they do—that is, if you can find those sources.

It’s easy enough when the sources are online. But many Wikipedia articles rely on good old-fashioned books. The entry on Martin Luther King Jr., for example, cites 66 different books. Until recently, if you wanted to verify that those books say what the article says they say, or if you just wanted to read the cited material, you’d need to track down a copy of the book.

Now, thanks to a new initiative by the Internet Archive, you can click the name of the book and see a two-page preview of the cited work, so long as the citation specifies a page number. You can also borrow a digital copy of the book, so long as no else has checked it out, for two weeks—much the same way you’d borrow a book from your local library. (Some groups of authors and publishers have challenged the archive’s practice of allowing users to borrow unauthorized scanned books. The Internet Archive says it seeks to widen access to books in “balanced and respectful ways.”)

So far the Internet Archive has turned 130,000 references in Wikipedia entries in various languages into direct links to 50,000 books that the organization has scanned and made available to the public. The organization eventually hopes to allow users to view and borrow every book cited by Wikipedia, with the ultimate goal being to digitize every book ever published.

“Our goal is to be a library that’s useful and reachable by more people,” says Mark Graham, director of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine service.

If successful, the Internet Archive’s project would be a boon to students, journalists, or anyone who wants to check the references of a Wikipedia entry. Google Books also has a massive collection of digitized print books, but it tends to only show small snippets of a text.

“I’ve tried to verify Wikipedia pages by searching blurbs in Google Books but it’s an unpredictable link, and you often don’t have enough surrounding context to evaluate the use,” says Mike Caulfield, a digital literacy expert and director of blended and networked learning at Washington State University Vancouver. “The ability to read a page or two of context around a quote is crucial to both editors trying to protect the integrity of articles, and to readers who need to get to that next step of verification.”

You could, of course, verify the information the traditional way by tracking down a physical copy of a book. But students working late into the night on term papers, or reporters on tight deadlines, might not have time to order a book on Amazon or wait for a library book to become available. In other cases, books might be hard to come by. The Wikipedia entry on the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, for example, cites hard-to-find titles, says Internet Archive director of partnerships Wendy Hanamura. But thanks to the Internet Archive’s Digital Library of Japanese-American Incarceration, created with the Seattle-based organization Densho, many of those rare books are now available online.

The Internet Archive embarked on its effort to weave digital books into Wikipedia after the 2016 election. “No matter who you wanted to be president, I would say almost everyone would agree the whole process was a train wreck,” Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle said in a speech in San Francisco last week. From fake news and inauthentic social media campaigns waged by foreign nations to concerns about voting systems themselves being rigged, there were plenty of ways that technology and information systems failed the public. So Kahle convened a group of people to discuss how to improve the information ecosystem. One issue that came up was the fragility of Wikipedia citations. Books and academic journals supply some of the best, most reliable information for Wikipedia editors, but those sources frequently are either unavailable online or are behind paywalls. And even freely available internet content often disappears.

The Internet Archive was in a unique position to help solve this problem. The organization’s Wayback Machine service has archived 387 billion webpages since 2001. It’s also been digitizing physical books and other analog media, and has now scanned 3.8 million books. It has millions more books warehoused.

Graham and company created the InternetArchiveBot, a tool that scans Wikipedia for broken links and automatically adds links to versions archived in the Wayback Machine. Because automatic editing tools require special permission to use, Graham has to work with the Wikipedia communities that manage versions of the encyclopedia in different languages. “All told, we’ve edited 14 million links; more than 11 million point to Internet Archive,” he says.

Adding links to books is similar but more challenging. “If a book has an ISBN number and an entry has a traditional citation format, it’s pretty easy,” Graham explains. But not all books have ISBN numbers, and many Wikipedia citations aren’t properly formatted. For instance, some only cite the book and not a specific page number. There can also be differences between different editions of a book.

Of course, the Internet Archive hasn’t scanned all the books cited by Wikipedia yet. It’s working hard to digitize collections from libraries around the world, along with donations from companies like Better World Books. Graham says the organization scans more than 1,000 books per day. But it has plenty more work to do.