I spent a week in London at the beginning of this month. This contributed to lack of updates here and a few other things being pushed temporarily aside. But I’m back, I took a lot of photos, and I had a very good time. I never left the confines of London, so I don’t consider England “done” by any stretch of the imagination, but this was the first time I’d ever travelled over the Atlantic, and it was an excellent first step.
I was in London to present a speech about Wikipedia. Being flown to London and put up in a hotel is not something I normally have happen to me, so I jumped at the opportunity. The event was called the STM Innovations Seminar. STM stands for “Scientific, Technical and Medical”, as in publishing. So what we have here was me being able to punch Wikipedia in the face for a little under an hour, while visiting another country. Who could resist? I was also the lead-in to Ted Nelson, he of Xanadu and pioneering work in hypertext, and who could resist that. So all around, a great way to spend a week.
I’ve now put a copy of the speech, “Mythapedia”, on archive.org. If you’ve already heard The Great Failure of Wikipedia the tone and approach will be somewhat similar, although this one is focused more towards addressing Wikipedia from the point of view of a publisher and a number of my beliefs of what a Wikipedia-like entity needs to sustain quality work.
Ernest Adams was particularly friendly and helpful when I plugged my power strip into the wall and blew it up (turns out it was cut-rate; now it’s a plastic paperweight). I also discovered that while my lamps are 120-240v, the bulbs were definitely not; we had to go on a quick shopping spree to buy new halogen bulbs. A minor annoyance, but Mr. Adams was very nice about the whole delay, and ultimately we got a great interview down.
I got a lot of flack for not having more non-North American interviews for the BBS Documentary, and this is why: all the little issues of power, of transiting equipment, of getting transport when in a country… at the time I was working on BBS, it was just too much to pile on to everything else. I think I made the right choice, although it does sting a bit when the insults come in about making it.
Between taking my trips in double decker busses and the tube, eating bangers and mash, and walking miles and miles just taking in the place, I got to go to the GAME ON exhibit at the Science Museum. The thing is, I have a lot of what they have in my basement, with the usual exceptions of a PDP-1 and those first really funky Computer Space arcade machines. It was nice to see they had a exhibit running a text adventure (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Infocom, 1984). ot a jazzed-up one, just the good ol’ text and prompt, waiting for the next move. And people were checking it out!
Life, in other words, is good.
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