[Wikipedia-l] Slashdot on MIT free courseware

Tim Chambers tbchambers at yahoo.com
Thu Oct 11 22:08:47 UTC 2001

> Tim Chambers wrote:
> > I don't see that to be necessary.
> Not necessary, sure!  But a great opportunity for enhanced
> visibility.

I was trying to say (diplomatically) that I thought it was a bad
idea to criticize MIT's OCW at this juncture. I have two reasons
for my position: (1) it's old news (Slashdot's brain fade
notwithstanding), (2) it's too early to developed an informed
critique of the revolutionary step that MIT is taking with OCW,
however distant it may be from the GFDL ideal.

I went back and perused the GFDL. I do think it would be an
interesting exercise -- especially since MIT's own ''Tech
Review'' has covered Wikipedia -- for you (Jimmy) or Larry to
contact MIT and simply ask them if they have considered putting
OCW under the GFDL. I'm curious to know if the OCW honchos have a
clue about the GFDL. That's not a bet I would make either way,
but I ''will'' bet that they will reply that the GFDL is not
something they want to deal with right now. Look. They're already
taking a bold, high-profile step by packaging up their courseware
this way. I don't think they'll want to go with the GFDL at the
same time. Too much risk. Too different. OCW is enough of a
risk. I think that's why they are making it clear that the same
old IP rules will apply. It's a compromise to broaden their
support among their own professors.

Detractors are free to complain about MIT not going far enough
with OCW, but they should not be surprised when they get the same
brushoff as those who whine about the high price of copyrighted
textbooks. Packaging knowledge is hard work -- as any Wikipedian
will admit.

> I'm completely unaware of any "cool reception" by "so many"
> academics.  Has there been a critical article published that
> I'm unaware of?  A critical discussion on any academic mailing
> lists?

I apologize for choosing sloppy words. What I mean by "cool" is
not that there's a bevy of criticism. I mean that positive,
enthusiastic acceptance has been slow in coming. There are some
academics rallying behind both Nupedia and Wikipedia, but the
mainstream press (e.g. TR and NYT) has been cautious. It seems to
me that most academics who are aware of the 'pedias are going to
wait to see what Wikipedia will look like when it grows up.
Furthermore, I don't think that today ''most'' academics ''are''
aware of the 'pedias.

Patience. I'm merely advocating patience. Under-promise and
over-deliver. Good advice for any dot-com venture these days, eh?

    "still looking forward to the Wikipedia 1.0 CD-ROM"

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