[Foundation-l] bylaws (second call)

Michael R. Irwin michael_irwin at verizon.net
Wed Aug 16 06:13:13 UTC 2006

Brad Patrick wrote:

>I'm not going to address this point by point, because my aim is to expand,
>not stifle, discussion.
>Some more grist for the mill:
>- Do you really believe a reduction in US-centrism is going to be
>accomplished by having a high financial barrier to entry?
I agree financial barriers are inappropriate.    We are trying to 
interact with and serve all of humanity, not the American middle class 
or some upper financial crust.   Internet access is already a de facto 
finanical barrier but it is inevitably a falling one due to the 
continuous decline in price of computers and internet access.

>- Your distinction re billion member organization vs. billion dollar
>organization is intriguing.  How do we get there?
One possibility which has been continually ignored is distributed 
computing applications.   In a distributed scenario members can donate 
the services of their inactive computers and bandwidth to help serve the 
community and its customers.   

An example might be the use of bittorrent for making download of 
databases a distributed effort.

Another would be tackling service of view only pages (current and 
history) from a permanent distributed service such as the "Oceanstore" 
project promises to deliver.   It has current been prototyped as open 
source "Pond".   A possible approach to this might be to set up the 
distributed datastore using centralized servers which use distributed 
resources to create a datastore consisting of a file for every possible 
page in the database.   Then when one requests the read only version of 
the current page or a history page the request is sent to the Oceanstore 
system to deliver the archived page while when one requests edit 
capability the current infrastructure responds.   When one is done 
editing the current database is updated while simultaneously a new 
archive page is sent to the datastore for future readonly access.

The above does not eliminate the need for centralized computing 
infrastructure but should reduce its requirements growth by offloading 
substantial work to the Oceanstore archive created by the use of a few 
centralized servers and distributed participating computers which create 
the storage space.

The above could shift substantial capital requirements back to 
participating volunteers.   It is possible that a better match for the 
distributed participation would be gnunet.   Obviously little effort is 
available for such speculative projects unless some customers express 
serious interest and committment to such project.

>- How do non-editing, non-computer using people intersect with those who
>presently self-affiliate with WMF et al.?
Given the above distributed approach to expansion it is possible that 
parents or adults who rarely use encyclopedias might donate bandwidth 
and hard drive space on new systems until they find they need the space 
to support a free service viewed as useful to educational systems and 
youngsters.    For example:  On a Dell Desktop I have used for a couple 
of years with a 160 GB hard drive I am even now only using 80GB, 
primarily because I rarely erase anything and I download a lot of open 
source applications.    I could easily make 40-80GB of this available to 
a trusted application such as gnunet or oceanstore if I knew it had been 
vetted by a trusted organization such as the technical teams at 
Wikimedia.  In the past I have donated hard drive space and processing 
to SETI, Cancer, etc. @ home although I recently ran into a distributed 
application allegedly put out by a reputable scientific team that 
screwed up my BOINC installation.   Hence the need for good vetting.

>- With such a diluted definition of 'member' what is the real point of being
>a 'member'?  Is it political so members have control of the organization in
>some way? Philosophical, in that we have 'card carrying' members to prove
>allegiance to something? You have not made it sufficiently clear to me, at
>least, precisely what the point is other than 'there should be membership'.
>Membership implies there exists exclusivity or at least a definable
>difference between member and non-member.
In my view the above is correct.   Hence my noninterest in the 
Foundation.   Once Wikiversity activates I am out of here unless we get 
a substantial negative impact from Board Member or Employee grams 
directed at areas of personal interest on Wikiversity.

>- If the subtext is money, let's call it out and understand it.  My earlier
>point about "what would we do with a Billion dollars" is that it is a
>difficult question for anyone to answer.  Ask the Gates Foundation.
>(Present staff, ~600, btw).
Buy a dedicated server and some support staff for Wikiversity to meet 
our advertised goals of delivering all free knowledge to all humanity.   
Despite a 200/300 vote to proceed well over a year ago and plenty of 
discussion and prototyping prior to that the project has been placed at 
the mercy of several appointees and approved volunteers.   Jimbo claims 
Wikiversity has overwhelming Board support but has heard nothing back 
from the appointed volunteers.   Perhaps a professional project manager 
could get an initial project with overwhelming support setup if he could 
purchase a server, some bandwidth and some professional setup time.

Personally I suspect this is not really a budget issue but if it is then 
a small part of a Billion should resolve it for the near future.


More information about the foundation-l mailing list