The Wikipedia Phenomenon

Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing.
That's Wikipedia founder Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales in a Slashdot interview. Read it all for a peek inside an amazing, important free-media project surging in content and popularity.

Sounds like he's also starting to make the case for ads as an important source of foundation funding...

The discussion about advertising is really more a question that asks: with this kind of traffic, and the kind of growth we are seeing, how much good could we do as a charitable institution if we decided to accept advertising. It would be very lucrative for the Wikimedia Foundation if the community decided to do it, because our cost structure is extremely extremely low compared to any traditional website.

That money could be used to fund books and media centers in the developing world. Some of it could be used to purchase additional hardware, some could be used to support the development of free software that we use in our mission. The question that we may have to ask ourselves, from the comfort of our relatively wealthy Internet-connected world, is whether our discomfort and distaste for advertising intruding on the purity of Wikipedia is more important than that mission.

Decoding JibJab

A poster at Larry Lessig's blog makes a contrarian point: the JibJab "This Land" animation tilts heavily against John Kerry.

I agree.

The digs against Bush -- that he's stupid, inarticulate, and cartoonishly belligerent -- are old news. They've been repeated for years and get repeated several more times in the animation, but they're not delivering any new information or swaying any undecideds here. Bush is a known quantity, in real life and charicature.

Kerry is less well-known. The digs against Kerry deliver novel negative characterizations to a new and receptive audience. Kerry is shown as haughty, vain, super-rich, and mocking of poor people. (While Bush only misspells Massachusetts, Kerry sneers at an image of poor life.) Kerry can't shut up about his medals. And two meaty points the GOP would like at the top of voters' minds -- Bush delivers tax breaks, Kerry flip-flops on issues -- get prominent airing. (None of Kerry's substantive talking points, such as they might be, get similar placement.)

The same imbalance is evident in the visual parodies. Portrayals of Bush as a cowboy, a tank driver, and wearing camo fatigues aren't so bad for a war president who can benefit from a macho image. There's no such silver lining for Kerry being portrayed as a ketchup-pushing hot dog, Herman Munster, U.N. sex slave, diapered baby, funky peacenik, or botox patient.

JibJab's "This Land" is hilariously clever: a great mesh of visuals, words, music, and voices. (Did one guy really do all the voices? Wow.) Its veneer of equal mockery, and the final scene where Bush and Kerry join arms, add to its charm.

But point-by-point, it's a really effective piece of pro-Bush propaganda -- even if it wasn't consciously designed that way.

Bill Gates and the broken window fallacy

Mike Linksvayer catches Bill Gates peddling a particularly ironic line of specious economic reasoning, the broken window fallacy.

Friendster goes PHP

Friendster goes PHP

Comments there include some delightful PHP vs. Java/JSP sniping. It strikes me that most of the benefits claimed for PHP are achievable with Java... it's just not typical for Java-heads to constrain themselves in those same ways, often leading to scaling strains.

Titles from my forthcoming series of self-help books

Volume 1: Achieving Total Victory Over Perfectionism

Volume 2: If You Worry That You're Worrying About The Wrong Things, You're Right

Volume 3: Sarcasm Can Be So Helpful In Your Relationships