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The latest interview victim was Larry Lessig, Stanford law professor, the founder of Creative Commons and a member of the free software foundation board of directors [on Mon Dec 7, 19:45 EST]. Questions below.

Also recently finished: an interview with Brad F (23:07, 1 Dec 2004 (UTC)); still time to send a followup Q or two.

Lawrence Lessig[edit]

Questions about commons-based resources; PD, CC and GFDL and other copyleft licenses; law and academia and education and politics are all fair game. His interview is coming soon on Wikimedia Quarto, vol.2.

On the Creativity of the Commons[edit]

  1. How do you see copyright and IP law changing in the future in response to the development of massively parallel collaborations?
    1. Currently, these situations are handled by requiring all contributors to give copyright to a single entity (GNU Emacs), by ignoring the contributions of any but a select few (most books), or by requiring all contributions to be of a form that precludes arguments over the division of any compensation (PD, et al.) [any other methods?]. Are there better alternatives in the works, and what might they look like?
    2. [technical] Licenses like CC-Attribution-ShareAlike and GFDL require reusers to keep authors' names. This means that when we really intensively collaborate, there could be hundreds of contributors to one page of work. On the other hand, CCv2.0 saw attribution becoming a fixture, not an option, because of its popularity. Are we really changing our notion of authorship?
  2. It seems that Wikimedia's approach to content creation is more communal, while Creative Commons takes much more distributed approach. As a result, we developed a massive amount of contents, still growing, but only a fraction of the participants may gain reputation. Creative Common's "Commoners" are creative individual artisits. Are we pursuing different paths to different types fo creative cultures? Are we going to merege or interact somewhere down the road?
  3. With licenses like CCPL and GFDL, we get away from certain kinds restrictive copyright law. Do you see anything else in particular as a significant threat or obstacle for the growth of free culture?
  4. Is it fair to say that many big content holders have released their contents into free or less restrictive sphere of our culture (BBC, MIT, and the Supreme Court immediately come to my mind, among many others), but we have yet to witness extensive reuse of those contents among users? (if not, what kind of reuse?) In contrast, content from the Gutenberg Project, Wikipedia, etc. sees frequent reuse and republication. Do you think that, eventually, intensive reuse of material will spread to the greater part of our culture? Why do you there isn't more intensive reuse of PD material today?
    1. Do you have any other vision of how free culture is likely to blossom?

On Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects[edit]

  1. How did you discover Wikipedia and what was your first reaction?
    1. Have you contributed to Wikipedia? (Why/why not?)
  2. What do you think are the greatest long term risks to the ease of reuse of Wikipedia content by others? What can or should be done now to reduce those risks?
  3. If you woke up one morning with a bad case of EVIL (tm), what legal mechanism would be your choice to try and bring Wikipedia down?
    1. [Here's one option to consider: have all contributors grant the Foundation a copyright enforcement agency agreement or transfer their copyright to the Foundation. Wait 20 years and ten changes of board members, or for a legal decision transferring the rights of the Foundation to some party without a strong respect for freedom. Then use the agency agreement or copyright transfer plus the concentration of power in one licensee used as a legal bludgeon against the rest. How can this long term risk be minimised or eliminated, both here and in other licensing situations and projects?]
  4. GNU's FDL is in English, and its translations are unofficial. Creative Commons has been internationalizing the licenses, rather than simply translating the generic versions into multiple languages. Do you see, as a legal expert, one or the other distinctively better for multilingual projects?
  5. Translation: The Creative Commons began a discussion list this summer about a CC license specifically for translations, but it seems to have petered out. What current options exist for licenses that allow for free translations of a work (perhaps including publication of such works), but no other uses?
  6. [When would you guess Britannica, Encarta, or other major encyclopedias start taking Wikipedia articles and using them as a base for their product?]

On Copyright and Copyleft[edit]

  1. You have been a prominent critic of some recent changes to U.S. copyright law. Was it your awareness about the increasing and expanding copyright protection in the U.S. that led you to initiate the Creative Commons?
  2. Do you think that the growth of the copyleft movement is another force advocating for permanent extensions to copyright law? [For example, Wikipedia's copyright page says that the GFDL will keep the work "free forever", presumably meaning copyleft and in turn requiring an infinite copyright term so that the copyleft license can have force forever.]
  3. Creative Commons' CC-Attribution-ShareAlike License and FSF's GNU Free Documentation License have been said to be very similar in spirit, though not technically compatible. Do you see merit in making these licenses compatible, and enlarging the pool of common resource for both? Or would you say they serve different purposes, and each is valuable on its own way?
    1. (if yes) How long do you think it will be before the licenses are compatible? What are the major obstacles in the way of compatibility?
  4. Wikipedia and its sister projects are quite transnational. Yet the laws related to international jurisdictions and choice of law are very immature at this point. In addition, there are important differences in substantive laws of different nations, regarding contract, copyrights, torts, ISP liability, and other things that are so important to our projects. Would you say that we have to bear with this uncertainty (and sometimes inconsistencies) of what is legally effective, liable, etc. and what is not for the foreseeable future?
  • [Would you say that although many of us who love free culture would not like DRM, its development and penetration into our society will benefit free culture, bringing more people to our side? Do you see that we will eventually prevail? Do you think stable relations are being developed between free culture and cultures and services based on managed content?]

On Wikimedia Foundation[edit]

  1. Among some of the active volunteers, there was recently a discussion about if Wikimedia Foundation should get involved in political advocacy. Some say we cannot afford to ignore politics, some say we have other things we can do better. You have tried passioately to change the law in the court before. Now you are trying to help people to change our culture. I suppose the goal is the same.
    Do you see the efforts of CC to change our culture as more promising than the effort in the courts?
  • After all, Wikimedia Foundation is still young and exploring its possibilties. Could you share your knowledge and experience about potentials and risks of a non-profit organization like us that is aiming for expanding the free culture? You know organizations such as Creative Commons, Free Software Foundation, and perhaps Electronic Frontier Foundation? Some of us also think that National Geographic is one of our role models.

Brad Fitzpatrick[edit]

insert your favorite question here:

OS and business

  • How has making your software available to the world affected your business?
  • Did you ever worry about lj being supplanted by a better service provider ?


  • So, LJ won the community voice award for Community, and WP won the judges award. Is that what you expected? Is it the way you wanted it?
  • The small group of wikipedians on lj has low traffic, but seems more friendly than on-wiki communities, since lj is devoted to that. do you see people gravitating towards meta-communities in the future, where they can share thoughts about focused communities from a comfortable distance?
  • let me compare, for a moment, the lj and wp communities. I don't know that much about how lj works, so bear with me here.
    1. lj : a “Friends Page,” listing the most recent posts from people a user has on their “Friends List” | wp : Recentchanges & watchlists, listing the most recent edits to one's favorite project / articles
    2. lj : S2 templates to customise appearance and behaviour | wp : editable css and js files for each user, plus crude skin selection (3-4 skins)
    What do you see as the next level of community feedback and interactoin?

Community development

  • What has the community taught you about community management and support?
  • When you add new friends to your journal, and they add you back, do any of you feel like you're rushing a level of intimacy that wasn't there before?
    • Ever thought of introducing more granularity in levels of friendship?
  • Community straddlers. From which communities do they come?
    1. manila / lj : Eric Hancock, et al
    2. blog / wp
    3. academia / 'net experts
    4. Ross's Hasty generalizations : true? erm, from 36 respondente...
      • Journals are read very rarely by bloggers
      • Journals don't link to blogs
      • Blogs don't link to journals
      • Journalers and Bloggers don't communicate

Coping with growth

  • What have been the biggest hurdles for lj as it has grown by these last two orders of magnitude?
  • What are the most serious scaling issues you foresee with the software? the community?
  • Do you anticipate some of these scaling problems before they crop up? If so, how?



  • Do you compare lj to similar sites in other languages? e.g., http://hatena.ne.jp/ ?
  • How have you dealt with expanding lj to new languages?
  • What's the future of multilingualism for social tools? Blogger: 9 langs now. WP : 50+ langs?? lj: now multilingual... where are the communities in those langs? Difficult langs: rtl, odd charsets (kn:), ...

... more? (this is a smaller interview)

Future interviews[edit]

Other options which would balance things

  1. woman
  2. not american
  3. not in computer
  4. will help be recognised by some organisations
  • Sadako Ogata, Japanese, former High Commissioner for Refugees for UN
  • Ruud Lubbers, Dutch, former High Commissioner for Refugees for UN, Dedalus
  • Wendy Knopp founder of "Teach America"
  • The president of the Nike Foundation is a women who is very into global education
  • Queen Noor of Jordan, Kid Education...
  • the head of the Ugandan Woman's network (Dorothy)


How about some competitors, such as a spokesperson for Britannica? In the past I have corresponded with Tom Panelas, tpanelas at britannica dot com, who is their director of corporate communications).--Eloquence

tricky, but yes, interesting idea. Anthere

I just did some search, and picked up some candidates for futhre interviews..

  • Koïchiro Matsuura, UNESCO's former director-general, is a japanese who speaks en, es, fr, & ja, has served as a chair for World Heritage Committee, been ambassador to France, Andorra, and Djibouti bio. Well, he is not female.
  • Michael Gurstein is one of the most prominent scholar in the area of community informatics, (community here means that of geographical), have worked in Canada and Australia. Knowledgeable about technologies, developmental issues, etc. bio.
  • How about someone from this part of EU [1]?

Tomos 07:16, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Past Interviews[edit]

Ward Cunningham[edit]

Around these parts, Ward Cunningham is best known as the father of the wiki. But he has long been known for creative ideas, including many of the techniques of Extreme Programming.

Ward was interviewed in September; here are the questions suggested beforehand. Almost all were covered during the interview.


Saw Sunir online last night; he said to say "hi". (-:

[1-2 Q's about "the wiki way"... ]

"in 'the wiki way' you advocate for flexibility of pages, and the importance of editing and refactoring content as time goes by. do you think there is also a place for pages that preserve old comments intact, instead adding better summaries as time goes by?"

"now you work at Microsoft. how does collaboration among thousands of coworkers compare with collaboration among thousands of people around the world?"


Did you ever imagine wikis would be used for creating an encyclopedia?

"did you ever consider that something a wiki as large as wikipedia would arise that could work so well (wrt. organizing information)?"

If so, "why has only one wiki-based project grown so large?"
If not, "what is different in this community from what you envisioned?"

Do you think Wikipedia is a true wiki and does it follow the "wiki way"?

Do you think there will come a time when Wikipedia should stop being a wiki and have its content locked down and more stable?

If there was one thing you could change about Wikipedia, what would it be?

"Do you have a photograph of yourself which you'll place into the public domain for the article about you?"  :)


"wiki as software was never an interesting question wiki as culture is a more interesting question."


"how is wiki like the web was supposed to be?"

What were your goals for wiki when you first invented it, and in what way does Wikipedia and its sister projects meet those?

Do you think the essence of wikis has changed over the last 10 years?

"In April 2000, you wrote: Wiki traffic is about 3x now what it was when it was last judged noise free. I'd like to find something that will take it to 30x or 300x. I've received many suggestions of things to add. Instead I'm looking for something to take out. [From Advogato, 4/2000]. If you could do it all over, what would you take out?"

"PPR was set up with editing restrictions, as a place to publish finished texts. If you tried to set up a collaborative place to publish papers today, how would you go about it?"

"When it first appeared, wiki (as a tool and as a philosophy of collaboration) made contribution easier, at the expense (perhaps) of making reading/organization harder. Ten years later, what is the future of wiki? What barriers to contribution remain, and what are the disadvantages of removing them?"

What is it about wikis that can make such strong communities develop around them?