Talking about global warming and wikipedia

I was invited to give a talk to CHASE – Cambridge Hi-tech Association of Small Enterprises – nice people even if they haven’t quite got round to updating their web site yet 🙂 The subject was to be global warming – no problem – and wikipedia. The later I’ve never tried talking about, and found it a bit of a puzzle as to what they wanted and what to say. The talk-in-two-halves is here, and to buff up my rather tarnished open-source credentials I’ve put it up as a .sxi only. As you can see, the GW bit is only slightly altered from before (apart from a dramatic and startling new paper by Lachlan-Cope and Connolley on tropical teleconnections to Antarctica, which I didn’t include, there is little that needs updating). As usual, I only had time to talk a little about the various common objections: this time audience reaction picked “The Day After Tomorrow Will Not Happen”. People love these pseudo-paradoxical things far too much.

But on to the wiki bits. I tried “how many people have used wiki” – most people put their hands up; “how many have edited” – quite a few; maybe 1/3 – 1/2; “how many have an account – only 3 I think. One of the questions they were interested in was “can we get our commercial stuff on?” though not phrased quite so nakedly. The answer is commerical objects are allowed, if notable, but having yourself deleted (or even just voted on) for non-notability can be painful. After that I moved on to the structure that makes wiki work, which was also to their commerical interests, since creation and understanding of online communities is a bit of a thing. The exciting details of admins, RFC, Mediation and a deep understanding of the Arbcomm I leave to some other post.

The best bit was questions-and-wine afterwards, because the questions were very good, the most informed I’ve ever had. Many focussing on sea level rise (since we live in and near the fens) and one person in particualr thanking me for reassuring him that sea level rise wouldn’t be as big as he had been lead to believe elsehwhere.

Oh, and this is nice but not at all relevant: http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-exc1.htm.