Saturday, January 07, 2006

Wiki Wiki Spoils the Tzatziki

I want to say a few words about the Wikipedia phenomenon, but first a few words about the difficulty of coming up with an good, original blog post title. (Here, clearly, I went for original over good.)

My first thought when writing about Wikipedia and the whole wiki phenomenon was to make a reference to the Will Smith version of the song "Wild Wild West", in which he repeats something which sounds a lot like "Wiki Wiki Wild." However, googling "Wiki Wiki Wild" shows me quite a number of people have thought of that reference before.

Instead, I went for the obscure. Learning that wiki comes from the Hawaiian word for "quick", I thought of a sign I had seen on my ride from the Chennai airport to my hotel.

Hurry, quick, same thing -- right? I only needed a food word to rhyme with wiki. After a while, I came up with tzatziki. See -- this blogging thing isn't as easy as you might think.

Anyway, I've recently become interested in the 'wiki' phenomenon. For those of you not familiar with it, the basic idea is a web site that anybody can edit. The most well-known one is Wikipedia, which is an on-line encyclopedia. There are other, similar, sites, such as Wikinews. The one that intrigues me the most is Wikitravel. I love travel guidebooks, but I think there's a lot to be said for the energy of web surfers in keeping things up-to-date and in detailing obscure locations.

The main beef I have with the wiki sites is that anybody can edit it. You don't generally even need an account. So if you visited the site between 6:17 and 6:19 PM on January 3rd, you saw this version of the page, which proclaimed, "He is a complete asshat."

The fact that a quick-reacting wikipedian reverted to a previous version in 2 minutes is good evidence for why Wikipedia works better than I thought it would. On the other hand, contributing to Wikipedia seems to involve a lot of patrolling for vandalism.

Because I want to learn about this new "technology", I've been playing around with Wikipedia and Wikitravel. I think the latter will hold my interest more in the long term. I have had some fun updating Wikipedia's Redskins pages, but I am not too interested in disputes about whether or not "Coach Janky Spanky" is "encycolopedic".

I'm going to try adding my 2006 travel experiences to Wikitravel. For example, last night we went to Nonna Maria's Pizza for dinner to celebrate my mother's birthday, and I added that restaurant to the skeletal Arizona page. Eventually, there may be a more specific page to move that to.

I'll probably have more to say about the wiki phenomenon in coming weeks.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

World of Wonders

An organization called "The New 7 Wonders Foundation" has produced a "short list" of 21 candidates for a new list of seven wonders of the world. They're taking votes this year, and will announce the winners on January 1, 1997. From that list, here are my seven choices. I'm not wedded to these, but I gave it a little bit of thought.

  • Christ Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro
  • Colosseum, Rome
  • Great Wall, China
  • Pyramids, Giza
  • Statue of Liberty, New York
  • Stonehenge, England
  • Taj Mahal, India

I tried to stay away from ruins that are mostly interesting just because they're "ruins." Still, four of these sites are ruins. Stonehenge looks back to some of the earliest civilization. The Pyramids are a classic...I figure if you can survive from the original list, you deserve to stay on. The Colosseum and the Great Wall serve as representatives of two of the great civilizations of ancient times. In more modern times, the Taj Mahal is a stunning piece of architecture that combines Muslim and Hindu influences. Finally, the Statue of Liberty and Christ Redeemer capture what we do these days: build really big things to represent ideas -- in this case, freedom and religion, two ideas that have been at the center of human thought the past few decades.

What are your top 7? Feel free to comment below.

And I feel compelled to mention I've only seen 4 of the 21 candidates, which probably does not leave me 100% qualified to judge.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Tips for successful blogging

My friend Martin has started up his own blog recently, and in his honor, I offer the following tip:

  1. If you don't have anything to blog about, link to somebody else's blog.

More tips as events warrant.