Tuesday, February 09, 2016

One world is where #Wikimedia is weak

#Wikimania, the annual conference of the Wikimedia Foundation, brings people from all over the world together. It instills some needed cohesion in a community that is from around the world. It brings together hackers, editors, language buffs.

In its infinite wisdom the WMF has decided that Wikimania is to be bi-annual. The notion is that "local" conferences may be held every other year. To be honest, what I fail to understand what this will bring. It is obvious that global cooperation will suffer. The only thing I see is that it may reduce some costs.

One third of only 82 respondents pointed to the unique value of Wikimania. Given the size of the population interviewed I doubt the reliability of the findings. I am not one to readily dismiss what the WMF has to say but in this the WMF fails its mission.

#Wikipedia - Eric Kandel the relevance of his "occupation"

Mr Kandel won the Nobel prize among many other awards. His reputation is safe and it is why he is a good example to talk about what he is about and as importantly what he is not.

Wikipedia has it that he is a "neuropsychiatrist". Neuropsychiatry is a "branch of medicine that deals with mental disorders attributable to diseases of the nervous system". Given what Mr Kandel is known for, it makes sense to call him a "neurospsychologist" because neuropsychology "studies the structure and function of the brain as they relate to specific psychological processes and behaviors."

Mr Kandel may have studied psychoanalysis but the work he is celebrated for did not deal with people, so he did not deal with mental disorders; the Wikipedia text is quite clear about this. By considering Mr Kandel as a neuropsychiatrist, it is implied that his work has a practical application to mental health while at most his work helps explain how memory works.

The work of Mr Kandel is important but it is a fallacy to call it psychiatry when it so obviously is not. It is a fallacy because it takes away from what psychiatry is about.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

#Wikipedia - Shows updates from #Wikidata

Seeing updates go live on a Wikipedia when updates happen on Wikidata; wow! Mr Starobinski is from Switzerland so it is not really surprising when German language and French language awards are awarded.

At first a Q1730045 showed up; it is the "Karl-Jaspers-Preis" it did not have a label so I added one in French and now it shows in black. I noticed dates, so I added them all. <grin> if there is one thing the script could do is sort them by date :) This is a wonderful experience!

Saturday, February 06, 2016

#Drapetomania is in other forms alive and well

A #scientist by the name of Samuel A. Cartwright wrote a paper defining a mental disorder called drapetomania. The suggested treatment was that "they should be punished until they fall into that submissive state which was intended for them to occupy. They have only to be kept in that state, and treated like children to prevent and cure them from running away". The mental disorder described slaves that run away. Drapetomania is no longer believed to be a mental disorder.

In the twenty first century, professor Jonathan Metzl wrote a book called The Protest Psychosis, it describes how schizophrenia was used to define people who had notions about their civil rights. The book describes an era where the DSM-2 was the latest and greatest to define mental health.

It is all too easy to welcome the publication of Mr Metzl as an important work as has been done by leading psychological institutions. Both Mr Cartwright and the DSM-2 have already been shown to be obsolete.

What the aftermath of the DSM-2 and Mr Cartwright prove is that papers on psychiatry cannot be relied on because current approaches to psychiatry are equally problematic. A recent publication (in Dutch) provides many arguments. One of the more relevant arguments is that many of the current studies are not reproducible and what they describe are based on theoretical constructs that are not universally agreed upon.

The book argues that publications about subjects that are fashionable have a better chance of being published over publications that expose methodological weaknesses (Delespaul, Milo, Schalken, Boevink & Os, 2015 p31,32).

Given that there is enough literature to support this point of view, what does it mean for a Wikipedia where sources are a holy grail that is to be ingested without all too much salt? What sources can be relied on and why and how do we recognise official pot quackery?

#Wikipedia: R. Kerry Rowe - #Sources may stink

For whatever reason I stumbled upon the Miroslow Romamowski medal. It is a Canadian medal named after a Polish scientist. When I add people to a medal, I make sure that the medal is at least an award and typically I add the person the award was named after. Searching for Mr Romanowski, a Portuguese article on the award proved to exist as well and it was merged.

The Wikipedia article is well maintained; this is assured by the date when the official website was last retrieved; "Retrieved 22 November 2015" and this source shows that the award has not been conferred after 2012. Mr R. Kerry Rowe however has been awarded the medal in 2015 and this can be sourced to this.

For Mr Rowe there is a German article, It indicates that he won the Legett award, its source is a dead link but hey, there is enough information to find the society that conferred it, and finally a functional source for the award.

This award is in and of itself not that relevant. When you combine the links to articles as can be found in the "Concept cloud" and Reasonator for Mr Rowe, it becomes interesting, Combined they show the known relations for an article, an item. It would be cool when the two could be merged. When a link in a Wikipedia article is known as a Wikidata statement, it would become interesting to make the statement that Mr Rowe gave the Rankine Lecture.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

#Wikipedia - Dorothy E. Smith - #links and #sources

Mrs Smith is recognised as an important scholar. One of her books is considered a classic, she developed two theories, received several awards and there is a Wikipedia article about her in three languages.

Mrs Smith received the Jessie Bernard Award in 1993 and it is why I learned about her. The Wikipedia article mentions two brothers, one is linked the other is not. She was born in Northallerton, There is a link to John Porter but the only relation to Mr Porter is that Mrs Smith won the John Porter Award. The award was given for a book by a red-linked organisation an organisation that bestowed their 'outstanding contribution award' to her as well in 1990.

This outstanding contribution award was given in 2015 to a Monica Boyd. She can be found on the Internet as well, it is easy enough to expand the amount of information around a relevant person like Mrs Smith. Almost every line in her article contains facts that could be mapped in Wikidata. With some effort sources can be added. The only problem is that adding sources for everything is painful; it is just too much work. This is a reality for Wikipedia as well, When Wikipedia and Wikidata align, when its links / statements match, it must be obvious that the likelihood of facts being correct is high, if only because multiple people had a look at most of the facts.

Monday, February 01, 2016

#Wikipedia - The Jessie Bernard Award

At the #Wikimedia Foundation a lot of words are used on the subject of #diversity. So much so that diversity is short for gender diversity. My point is not that having proper attention for women and women causes is not a good thing, it is the exclusion of everything else.

On the subject of gender diversity, an award was named in recognition of Mrs Bernard: the Jessie Bernard award. "It is presented for significant cumulative work done throughout a professional career, and is open to women or men and is not restricted to sociologists."

The Wikipedia article on the award has a substantial number of red links of the unsung heroes of gender diversity. Obviously everyone is invited to fill this in. The quote indicates that being a housewife is a special case of being crazy. If so, what does "mentally ill" mean and how well does Wikipedia cover that subject?

Friday, January 22, 2016

#Wikipedia - Nbr of statements on #Wikidata

Edo de Roo produced some stats showing the number of statements on items that have a Wikipedia article in Dutch.

I like his approach; it shows how well Wikidata might serve a Wikipedia. It may infer how well subjects that relate to the Netherlands are supported on other Wikipedias as well. There is more about subjects related to the Netherlands than what you find only on the Dutch Wikipedia but that is a bit more complicated.

When you compare these numbers to Magnus's stats, it is not bad at all. Most items for all of of Wikidata have 1 statement (4,474,865 23.22%) and for the Dutch it is 6 statements (36078).

Obviously there is room for growth.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

#Wikimedia - Perfection is the enemy of the good

I was wrong to tell people that Mr Anthony needs an article. I was wrong because the item I added on Wikidata was not perfect and, indeed it is not. I was wrong because among the awards Mr Anthony received was the "President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service".  It says so on the website of the Boston University..

There are several approaches to such criticism. It is true, obviously. I made the point that Mr Anthony received awards to do with psychiatry; he is very important in this field and deserves at least some of our attention. Mr Anthony received indeed the President's award. It is awarded to only five people a year.. It makes him notable in the biggers scale of things. It could be a reason for Wikipedians to take note of him and the other people who were celebrated in this way.

I am proud that I make mistakes; it proves at least that I do something. I think that this is a worthwhile thought. When what is done is not perfect in the eyes of others, so be it. It is all too easy to find fault. When many people make an attempt to do good, it is wonderful. It is how Wikipedia became what it is. It is not perfect and by finding fault at what others do, attention is diverted from what makes a project good, even better.

The aim of the Wikimedia foundation is "to share in the sum of all knowledge". Arguably our projects serve what all our editors put in there. Arguably Mr Voltaire already knew that perfection is the enemy of the good. My sense is that the arguments around the Wikimedia Foundation, its software, its communities have lost much of its validity. It is a bit like with psychiatry, for many psychiatry is business as usual: rehashing the old arguments, iterating on the method of operandi and applying the same stigmas. It takes people like Mr Anthony to bring hope, to tell people that there is room for recovery, that it is important to (re)connect to the values that are important.

There is hope for Wikimedia and it is not in rehashing time and again what went wrong. It is in what went right and what it takes to make it go right again and again. It is in reconnecting to important values like "be bold" and in recognising the work people do.