[Wikipedia-l] LA2

Lars Aronsson lars at aronsson.se
Mon Oct 15 01:11:16 UTC 2001

Hi, I just wanted to introduce myself.  My name is Lars Aronsson, I
live in [Sweden], and am a good friend of [LinusTolke], [Pinkunicorn],
[Lisa], and [Mjausson].  In May this year I was active in the English,
German, and Swedish Wikipedia using the signature [LA2].  I wrote
several articles, including [Information Theory], [Book], and
[Germany], but finally got tired of [Larry_Sanger]'s attitude and
pulled out on May 21.  My opinion was that different people could
contribute a skeleton of new article headings and hypertext links,
while others could contribute longer texts to each article, but Larry
thought it was important that [Wikipedia is not a dictionary], so I
left.  I think Larry agrees with my conclusion that Nupedia grows too
slowly because of an overly strict editorial policy, and that
Wikipedia is a blessing.  I think that Larry's criticism of my
contributions to Wikipedia was a leftover from this unnecessary
strictness, and rather than trying to explain this, I went away.

I have to confess I was the one who wrote that [Pittsburgh] is an
"ugly" town and under [Nile] that "denial is a river in Egypt".

I think that Wikipedia (and Wiki technology in general) is one of the
most interesting ideas I have met in the last few years.  Rather than
the [Open Directory Project], which only links to existing websites,
Wikipedia tries to document all knowledge, whether already available
on the Internet or not.  This is the same idea that [Denis Diderot]
worked on, moved to the [World Wide Web].

In 1991, my friend [LinusTolke] took the idea of [MUD] games (all of
which were in [English language] at the time), and moved it to
[Swedish language].  In 1992, I took the idea of [Project Gutenberg]
and moved it to [Swedish language], calling it [Projekt Runeberg].
When the first NCSA Mosaic web browser came out in 1993, I was one of
the few who had any contents already published.

Both LinusTolke and I are members of [Lysator], an students' computer
club (and alumni organisation of sorts) at [Linkoping University].

In the fall of 2000, I started a free wireless networking mailing list
(http://elektrosmog.nu/) in Sweden, and some of the members asked me
to start a Wiki website for it, just like two U.S. free wireless
projects have, [Personal Telco] and [SeattleWireless].  I thought
about this, and also wanted to use Wiki for [Projekt Runeberg] and
Scandinavian literature.

To get a better idea of how it works, I downloaded my own copy of the
Usemod Wiki software, and started to experiment.  I soon realized that
there is true power in modifying the program itself, adding new
features that saves work when writing articles.  The program has a
subroutine (a "sub" i Perl) named WikiToHTML that converts the
''special'' characters to HTML.  For instance, it translates ISBN:0000
into a link to Amazon and Barnes&Noble, and RFC0000 to a link to
faqs.org.  I added a rule that makes a link to the USPTO database
whenever I write uspat: followed by a U.S. Patent number.  I modified
the ISBN rule so that Swedish ISBN:91- numbers will link to Swedish
online bookstores.  I made a rule so that map: followed by a
geographic latitude and longitude will create an inline image link to
a map from mapblast.com.  I could go on and add new rules.  This is a
dimension that I haven't seen explored in Wikipedia yet.

I set up my experimental wiki on August 31, and after a month I had a
pretty decent website, all prompts translated to Swedish, and with a
few hundred articles in it.  I decided to keep this project, and on
October 1, I gave it a proper Internet domain, http://susning.nu/
The slogan "skaffa dig en susning.nu" roughly translates into "get
yourself a clue, now!"

This website hasn't been indexed by Google yet, and I am writing most
of the articles myself.  There are 1700 articles of which 200 are
REDIRECTs, 1100 contain at least one comma, and 600 contain a map from
Mapblast.  This places my site slightly ahead of the German Wikipedia
(900 comma articles), and way ahead of the Swedish Wikipedia (90 comma
articles).  I have one article for every municipality in Sweden, and
several countries are covered.  Very few of my articles are long, and
there is no chance I can compete with the English Wikipedia.

I joined these two mailing lists (wikipedia-l, intlwiki-l) a week ago,
and the discussion on translation links inspired me to implement this.
Whenever I start an article like this:

	En katt (engelska: cat) (tyska: Katze) är ett djur.
	A cat (German: Katze) (Swedish: katt) is an animal.
	Eine Katze (Englisch: cat) (Schwedisch: katt) ist ein Tier.

the words in parenthesis are made into links to that language's
Wikipedia.  This way, if one reader thinks that my website provides a
too simple explanation of what a cat is, and they do understand
English, they can click on "cat" and get the much longer article from
the English Wikipedia.  This is great.  On the other hand, if they
click on Katze, they will arrive at the blank webpage
http://de.wikipedia.com/wiki/Katze and will have the chance to write
that missing article in German.  The best part is that the syntax is
user-friendly and not overly {{{complicated}}} for anybody to
understand.  You are welcome to have a look around.  Here are some
example articles:


As a "good fences make for good neighbors" principle, I run my own
website independent of what goes on in the Wikipedia project.  I just
link to your articles, and my readers can contribute to and benefit
from your work.  I think this "scales" well, and that is very
comforting to a programmer like me.  I think that we can learn a lot
from each other, and have a loose form of cooperation or mutual,
peaceful coexistance, even if we are not in the same project.  This is
how it has worked between me and Project Gutenberg's Michael Hart over
the last eight years.

  Lars Aronsson (lars at aronsson.se)
  Aronsson Datateknik
  Teknikringen 1e, SE-583 30 Linköping, Sweden
  tel +46-70-7891609

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