2 years & 9 months later, Re: 6 months later: Knol update

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2 years & 9 months later, Re: 6 months later: Knol update

Gwern Branwen
On Wed, Jan 21, 2009 at 10:51 AM, Gwern Branwen <[hidden email]> wrote:

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> On Tue, Jan 20, 2009 at 10:56 AM, Anthony  wrote:
>> On Tue, Jan 20, 2009 at 10:30 AM, Gwern Branwen  wrote:
>>>
>>> As will surprise none of the Knol nay-sayers here (in which number I
>>> believe I can count myself), Knol hasn't done too great.
>>
>> Compared to what?  I can't imagine Knol is much worse than Wikipedia when it
>> was 6 months old.  Knol just published its 100,000th article.  When
>> Wikipedia was 5 months old, it said on the main page "We've got over 6,000
>> pages already. We want to make over 100,000."  The Wayback machine then
>> skips ahead 5 more months, by which point Wikipedia brags "We started in
>> January 2001 and already have over 13,000 articles. We want to make over
>> 100,000, so let's get to work"
>>
>> To be sure, Knol has a lot of very serious problems with it.  But it's only
>> 6 months old.  The concept is far from finalized.  6 months into Jimmy
>> Wales' encyclopedia dream he was still working on Nupedia.

A thread on Haskell-cafe asked whether Knol was a good place for
documentation, which reminded me of Knol's continued existence. Like I
did previously, I went looking and the performance of Knol in the
years since has been quite bad:
http://www.gwern.net/Wikipedia%20and%20Knol#knol-did-fail

At this point, I'm comfortable asserting Knol is a failure, and have
moved on to trying to guess when it will die, exactly:
http://www.gwern.net/Wikipedia%20and%20Knol#knol-death-watch

--
gwern
http://www.gwern.net

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Re: 2 years & 9 months later, Re: 6 months later: Knol update

Carcharoth
On Thu, Oct 13, 2011 at 7:47 PM, Gwern Branwen <[hidden email]> wrote:

<snip>

> At this point, I'm comfortable asserting Knol is a failure, and have
> moved on to trying to guess when it will die, exactly:
> http://www.gwern.net/Wikipedia%20and%20Knol#knol-death-watch

An interesting analysis.

The mention of Google+ made me wonder how that will do versus Facebook.

And the mention of data preservation made me wonder as well. I would
hate to see things like Google Groups eventually vanish or become less
useful. You mentioned Flickr briefly as well, saying it is (still)
neglected by Yahoo. And you said the Geocities shutdown was
"shockingly abrupt".

One of the most depressing thing about the internet is dead links
(despite some archival services).

And then I got to thinking how long www.gwern.net will survive for? :-)

[Moving from the corporate level of the web to the personal level]

Do you think the collections of blogs hosted by the WMF will survive
longer than various other blogs and blogging sites?

Or even the archives of the WMF mailing lists.

Carcharoth

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Re: 2 years & 9 months later, Re: 6 months later: Knol update

Gwern Branwen
On Thu, Oct 13, 2011 at 9:34 PM, Carcharoth <[hidden email]> wrote:
> And the mention of data preservation made me wonder as well. I would
> hate to see things like Google Groups eventually vanish or become less
> useful. You mentioned Flickr briefly as well, saying it is (still)
> neglected by Yahoo. And you said the Geocities shutdown was
> "shockingly abrupt".

Yes, it was pretty abrupt. See Jason Scott on this issue and how it
wasn't even announced but buried in some obscure Yahoo documentation
entry.

> One of the most depressing thing about the internet is dead links
> (despite some archival services).
>
> And then I got to thinking how long www.gwern.net will survive for? :-)

Depends; I hope to maintain it indefinitely and it's pretty cheap. I
am interested in archiving and have my own strategies implemented (see
http://www.gwern.net/Archiving%20URLs ), since I gave up trying to
work with WMF & IA on archiving* and looked into what I could do as an
individual.

* I was very pleased to see that one of this year's Summer of Code
projects was an archive plugin, but I will believe it when I see it
running on the English Wikipedia.

They already work to some extent; for example, you can see most of
gwern.net is already in the Internet Archive (
http://wayback.archive.org/web/*/http://www.gwern.net/* ) and many
pages are in WebCite (eg. http://webcitation.org/627QAJ3KL ). I
provide the source repository, so if anyone ever cloned it, it is
available that way too. (HTML dumps of gwern.net periodically go into
my personal backup harddrive.)

> [Moving from the corporate level of the web to the personal level]
>
> Do you think the collections of blogs hosted by the WMF will survive
> longer than various other blogs and blogging sites?
>
> Or even the archives of the WMF mailing lists.

Yes. WMF is corporatizing, and that inherently means stuff will
survive longer than personal fly-by-night blogs. If nothing else,
those mailing list and blogs are relatively small - Google Groups and
Usenet is *huge*. If the Archive Team had to rescue those, I doubt
they would be able to retrieve any but a small fraction even with a
long lead time.

--
gwern
http://www.gwern.net

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Re: 2 years & 9 months later, Re: 6 months later: Knol update

Carcharoth
On Fri, Oct 14, 2011 at 2:56 AM, Gwern Branwen <[hidden email]> wrote:

<snip>

> Yes. WMF is corporatizing, and that inherently means stuff will
> survive longer than personal fly-by-night blogs. If nothing else,
> those mailing list and blogs are relatively small - Google Groups and
> Usenet is *huge*. If the Archive Team had to rescue those, I doubt
> they would be able to retrieve any but a small fraction even with a
> long lead time.

Size is a problem. When considering this last night, I had visions of
someone in a thousand years time accidentally "deleting the 21st
century" and having to ask around the obscure back-up locations to see
if the data was still around. When reading about the past, you get a
real impression of how much was saved, but also how little, and how
much was lost. Though change is good as well, I'm still not convinced
that future systems won't just collapse (metaphorically) under the
sheer weight of material.

Carcharoth

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Re: 2 years & 9 months later, Re: 6 months later: Knol update

David Gerard-2
In reply to this post by Gwern Branwen
On 14 October 2011 02:56, Gwern Branwen <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On Thu, Oct 13, 2011 at 9:34 PM, Carcharoth <[hidden email]> wrote:

>> Or even the archives of the WMF mailing lists.

> Yes. WMF is corporatizing, and that inherently means stuff will
> survive longer than personal fly-by-night blogs. If nothing else,
> those mailing list and blogs are relatively small - Google Groups and
> Usenet is *huge*. If the Archive Team had to rescue those, I doubt
> they would be able to retrieve any but a small fraction even with a
> long lead time.


Every now and then something in the mail archive craps itself. Mailman
can regenerate it, but all the old URLs break. Since they're excluded
from Google, and the ht://dig search was so crap it was removed, gmane
or gossamer-threads are more stable archives than WMF's own.


- d.

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