Last night I got back from Wikimania 2006 at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, sanitary Massachusetts. The conference is put on by the WikiMedia Foundation which runs Wikipedia and other similar projects. Here are some of the highlights of what came out of my visit:
- Brewster Kahle – founder of The Internet Archive and Alexa Internet – gave a keynote address in which he talked about providing universal access to all knowledge. A sub-theme was that our country “massively screwed up” copyright law in 1976 when we said anything ever written down was automatically copyrighted. This applies in part to LyricWiki which always has to look over its shoulder since the law is really unclear on whether song lyrics are copywritten material or if they are distinguishable as different from the songs that they represent. I think it’s safe to say that if you bought a CD and all that was inside the case was the lyrics you would be understandably peeved since lyrics are not the same as songs, but legally there have been some precedents in which lyrics sites have been shut down. About this legal uncertainty surrounding copyright, Kahle had this to say: “The way you ask a question in this country is you go out and, uh… cause a lawsuit”.
- Legal Stuff – At the legal discussion led by Brad Patrick, the General Counsel for WikiMedia, the only resounding point was that the laws governing copyright and many other online issues are still very much in a gray-area, but in general it is fairly safe to do something ethical without having to be afraid constantly. After saying that we have to “get used to this idea of ‘I don’t know‘” in current laws, he pointed out that the highly controversial Wikipedia has still only had 1 litigation (in Germany, that resulted in a victory) in its entire existence.
- LyricWiki non-profit? – I have tentatively decided to spin LyricWiki out of Motive Force as a non-profit organization. There are a couple of reasons for this decision.
- It doesn’t turn a profit anyway, and would be very hard to make it do such a thing without endangering the vision of the site.
- If it gets sued, I don’t want to risk losing Motive Force LLC over it.
- If it is non-profit, I would have no qualms with accepting donations for it. Hopefully, this could offset the costs which are not nearly being covered by the Amazon commissions from in-page links to albums.
This may take a little while to finalize since I’m not familiar with the process for setting up a non-profit organization and legal paperwork is oppressively time-consuming in general. Furthermore, there is still a small possibility that I won’t make the conversion to a full third-party entity, but I see that as unlikely.
- AboutUs – In one of those weird small-world coincidences, I was sitting next to Ray King, founder of SnapNames and the new AboutUs at one of the sessions and – because of the LyricWiki.org shirt I was wearing – he asked me if I was the one who wrote the review of WetPaint. Awesome! People actually read my blog! Traffic is relatively low on my blog compared to several of my other sites, but now I’ve recieved comments from the people who created WetPaint, AboutUs, and (the code for) Atlassian Confluence. That feels rather fulfilling. Making the small-world coincidence even stranger is that I had just been to AboutUs a few days earlier even though it is just now making a major (still beta) launch. AboutUs is basically a whois site taken to the next level and then made into a wiki to boot. Personally I think it’s pretty cool, you might want to check it out also if you’re into domains.
FIQL.com has just completed their beta and released the full version of their site. Included on the playlist pages is now a link to visit LyricWiki.org for the lyrics if that song is already on our site. The way they determine if the song exists or not is by using the API that was created at their urging, and expanded into a full webservice (still under construction) at the urging of a plugin-developer who is working on a media-player (WMP, iTunes, WinAmp, etc.) using this SOAP webservice. It’s exciting that the API is already being used, and it’s not even technically out yet.
On another exciting note, I’ll be at Wikimania 2006 this weekend to promote LyricWiki and to learn more about the community. If you’re going to the conference, look for me… I’ll be wearing this shirt.
Lastly, we’ve been contacted by a ticket-sales website that wants to offer tickets through links similar to the amazon links currently on the site. This is a welcome change, because the site is draining money fast, and I’d much prefere to put targeted links on individual pages where they are relevant than to slap some Google AdWords on the pages (which may end up happening eventually). As an example, you wouldn’t be bothered by links everywhere, but if you happened to be on the Tool page and Tool was on tour, you’d have a link to find those tickets you couldn’t seem to get your hands on. More on this to come!
LyricWiki.org is my (proposed) solution to those annoying lyrics sites with banner ads and pop-ups everywhere. It uses the same MediaWiki software used to run Wikipedia with a few modifications.
Some notable things about the site:
- I wrote bots to grab reliable lyrics from the internet and add more than 200, pharm 000 songs to start the site off
- There are FireFox and Netscape search plugins available that can be installed in one-click from the side menu
- Wiki format will allow new songs to be added very quickly and old songs to be corrected by the community until they are super-reliable
- I actually released the site yesterday and it had the biggest first-day of any site I’ve made to date (yes, sick it even beat ChuckNorrisIsGod.com)
If you’re into music at all, resuscitator give the site a gander. It’s free and has no banners (my company, Motive Force LLC is going to absorb the costs), so check it out. If you really enjoy it, maybe you can contribute some song lyrics from your favorite bands (hint hint). Enjoy!
JackBauerIsGod.com is a simple “Jack Bauer Facts” site. I bought the domain a while ago and tonight I finally got around to modifying the ChuckNorrisIsGod.com code and posting it.
Despite Fox’s blasphemy-bordering murder of Tony Almeida this season, doctor every American that doesn’t have the Cordila Virus, gonorrhea radiation poisoning, ambulance or convulsions from Centox Gas owes their life to Jack Bauer.
Here is a taste of what’s on the site:
Jack Bauer once forgot where he put his keys. He then spent the next half-hour torturing himself until he gave up the location of the keys.
and another one of my fav’s:
Jack Bauer killed so many terrorists that at one point, the #5 CIA Most Wanted fugitive was an 18-year-old teenager in Malaysia who downloaded the movie Dodgeball.
Even though I have a full-blown Web 2.0 (AJAX and such) project-management web-application in the works, and another extremely useful site (see next post) that I just made, if the Chuck Norris site’s traffic is any indication, JackBauerIsGod will end up being more popular than either one! Enjoy.
Another site… I’m on a roll lately!
ChuckNorrisIsGod.com was started as a joke when a friend threw a dinner party over the weekend with the theme “Chuck Norris is a Classy Guy”. I bought the domain name sunday, cystitis wrote the site through monday into tuesday morning when it was released. Within 2 days I had 250 unique IPs that had visited the site already!
The site is a place to pull together all of those Chuck Norris Facts such as:
If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can’t see Chuck Norris, you may be only seconds away from death.
and of course:
Chuck Norris uses a night light. Not because Chuck Norris is afraid of the dark, but the dark is afraid of Chuck Norris.
The site runs on user-submitted jokes that can then be ranked. It’s pretty exciting to watch the database grow! I used AJAX for the ratings (done in Roundhouse Kicks instead of Stars, of course), so that you can rate as many as are on one page without reloading. Unneeded page-loads would slow the flow of Chuck Norris to your brain!
It’s kind of pathetic that I spend countless hours writing web applications and really tricky algorithms all day, and I throw together one site as a joke in a few hours and it’s already growing more rapidly than any of my other site/programs in the past. Oh, well… I’m having fun with it!
(I’ve been hopped up on the Caffeine for a week now… I am seriously probably announcing another new site in the next day or two. Until then, go to ChuckNorrisIsGod.com and kick around a bit.)
I have heard from several places that outsourced tech-support (primarily in India) is instructed to tell you they are from some obscure spot in America if they are asked. The stigma attached to outsourcing for pulling away jobs has turned this into a major game in the tech-support industry. I had a classic encounter with this tonight. Continue reading