GNUnify Day -1

The post attempts to summarize what I saw, observed on GNUnify Day 1 of the conference.

Firstly, I had put up a CFP for sharing the concept of ‘distributed computing‘ and an application I know ‘BOINC‘ but for reasons best known to the organizers the CFP was not admitted.

So feeling a little blue came to the venue around 11, 11:15ish had chai and saw what was in the day’s schedule. The schedule of the day can found here . I knew that there was going to be a Wikipedia/Wikimedia parallel track happening all the time so just went straight to the wikipedia track to see,observe, share, listen etc.

Before jumping the gun though. For the record, if the wikipedia track was not there then would have surely gone to the following topics/talks :-

a. Open Moko – Free your phone Rajesh Sola :- Although as a concept its cool, the implementation of it left a lot to be desired. Also toddling both the hardware and software nobody has really managed to be on both the sides. Take for instance Nokia going over to Windows 7. Bah, that just put Nokia on a black-list as far as smart phones are concerned at least for me.

While I’ve not played with either of the mobile toolkits but do know that on Android one can find lots of free ‘as in free speech as well as free beer’ apps so that would be my choice. I had read somewhere that almost 60% of the apps in the Android marketplace are free to be consumed.

If not Openmoko then the only real choice is Android from a user’s point of view.

Sadly, was not able to attend that talk/sharing as had promised self to attend as much as I could of the wikipedia track.

b.The second one which I would have liked to attend would have been the “Setting up Linux Kernel Debugging Environment ” . I am not a kernel hacker but would have been fun to know of as I had recently experienced the same first-hand.

I had missed both the morning as well as afternoon’s sessions of Thomas and Arthur. I came at the fag-end of Arthur’s session, saw the crowd and it was a roomful. Unfortunately, not really a Mediawiki hacker (although have played around with Mediawiki installations) . The good part was that lot of students asked lots of queries. For me it’s just one of the more important product on the LAMP stack.

For demo purposes when I played around with it (even with memcache on) had seen it can quickly become unwieldy. This is of course a personal experience. It would have been better to run a series of tests and then have an output.

Anyways, as the room was filled to the brim didn’t really want to disturb the guys, I did see Arthur playing around with some php code, which editor he was using I didn’t get a chance to look but looked nice, fairly out-of-the-way.

One of the other things I did in the afternoon is partly sat through a fedora install, this was being done by couple of college volunteers and while they were setting up the BIOS and making hard disk available for a fedora install they could not explain the same to the people who came through. I tried my best to shut my mouth but just couldn’t handle it and started explaining. I didn’t get into the whole ‘POST’ routine but used POST’s analogy to explain the BIOS and shared what the LIVE CD/DVD was and how it’s used on a very superficial level. I knew this was the practise the youngsters needed to polish themselves up hence moved out after explaining the two points.

Anyways, having skipped Arthur’s session decided to sit for the next one. The afternoon session was ‘Mozilla Drumbeat‘ by Vineel Reddy . Was tad disappointed as he was just parroting what others (the Mozilla people were saying) rather than what he thought/felt about Mozilla Drumbeat. The only sense of relief was when he showed and show it operated.

I had seen both the site and the UI and in one year it has progressed, although it still lags from edge of network issues and there was no answer to the query as to what happens if more than one person makes subtitles to a film/product. It of course would be interesting to see where it goes in the future. He also shared about the Peer2Peer University but was pretty vague about the actual implementation. At the end just gave the link to the drumbeat mailing list to find out more.

One of the interesting things Vineel asked was a pertinent question/query about the ‘open nature of Internet’ but was pretty vague about what he wanted the audience to discuss. It would have been much better if he had talked first about ‘walled gardens’ and other such issues and then getting into the ‘open nature of Internet’ . He did mention about ‘Net Neutrality’ but didn’t go into details about tiered Internet,businesses, policies and changes say in the United States Federal Government and organizations like EFF. For a much more shocking piece as to how the open general Internet could indeed be on last legs one should read Vint Cerf‘s piece.

We already see the signs with Google having gone big brother with ‘no bittorrent results’ on its search engine and ad-hoc google books implementation among some of the more serious things which had been happening. For me it was more a of a tokenism session than really adding anything of value to me personally.

After that went to the Mediawiki contributing sessions and introductions were made, found Anirudh Bhati to be a young 26~27 active wikipedian while Hari , married, little harried 🙂 , closer to my age, slighly battle hardened kinda guy.

It was cool, we quickly launched into all the issues that are wrong in native language Wikipedias. Personally, I had an awful time relating myself to the Hindi Wikipedia where just to take an example password becomes ‘kutshabdh’ which my mother also didn’t know. One does not feel that one is at neighborhood paanwalla but more in the room of your worst teacher at a disciplinary hearing.

One sees that and the English Wikipedia seems downright friendly. Well, it was supposed to be a wikipedia contributor session but couldn’t find anything to contribute. If there is no pre-decided page or article or whatever it is hard to do on a moment’s notice. Also hadn’t got a lappy and was not really happy about putting my credentials in a public space (even though I do trust the symbi guys but this is wi-fi) .

Anyways we sat around couple of hours, discussed some of the local language issues threadbare, specifically hindi and marathi. Even though I am not an Marathi Wikipedia expert had discussed some of the issues with Mandar so many times hence knew the major stumbling blocks.

Anyways, couple of people did come and was able to share a bit about wikipedia editing with them as in show them . Of course its not the place to churn out stuff (unless you come prepared, written about ahead. ) .

For instance whenever I do edit, I try to make sure to use online references when adding a fact which comes after series of ‘google finds’ or some other way and was not really into it. I usually get the brain waves to do editing at night-times but that’s me.

After the contributing sessions got over had a chai and tried to see Arthur’s ‘Drupal + CiviCRM +Wikimedia Foundation = Awesome’ but missed it by a whisker.

There were quite a few off-line conversations afterwards but that was officially the end of Day 1 of GNUnify .

9 thoughts on “GNUnify Day -1

  1. “Now few days ago I went to a parent-teacher meet. There a woman told me, I don’t know the hindi counting beyond thirty three. do not know why do you teach kids counting till 100 in Hindi. Some people will also come and say that they do not know tetis (33 in hindi) please make hindi simple.

    We think that there is some ‘vested’ interests whose reasons should be found out. ‘

    Well, skill development of anything is according to the nature of the job. I know of countless people in civil administration who are not able to function because they do not know English, do a hash job and then make all sorts of excuses. Forget language, being on chair for 30 years and do not know the basics of their job. Have seen and experienced that but that is not for debate here.

    I cannot say about you, the only ‘vested’ interest I have is it saddens me to see hindi wikipedia which is in its infancy being so stringent that there is no voice. It is not just an issue with Hindi Wikipedia its also there in Marathi as well and this has been conveyed in open foras well around a month back.

    If you think I have any other ‘vested interests’ I would challenge you to bring some evidence supporting the same. I could allege the same.

    I do have to mention that I did search your credentials and it turns out that Mr. Rakesh Jha has been doing some localization work since circa 2006/2007 or even before. An example

    I just use that to show where you are coming from and from where I’m operating. A developer/localizer vis-a-vis a user.

  2. Hi Rajesh,
    The blog and the comments are in English as a choice I made. So with due respect, will translate your quotes roughly and give point by point my thoughts. All your comments will be within quote marks and mine without.
    Also sorry for the delay just was caught with too many things.

    ‘If you advocate for simple hindi you should give the full answer in hindi only. I haven’t seen anybody till date saying English is difficult in case of an article or whatever but anybody can prove a word in Hindi is difficult. The reason is….. if you say it is difficult then you will be termed as semi-literate by people but if you say the same things for hindi you do not get into this problem. In fact you become a bit ‘BIG/exotic’ for having had such an issue’ – First para complete.

    Well dear friend,
    I do not know whom or what kind of company you keep but yes I do not have any issues calling myself semi-literate. I get stumped by words in English as well all the time. I guess a part its not such a big thing is getting meanings is easy/easier than finding hindi words.

    That is not to say that English is not complicated. On the contrary the existence of proves that many people do find the conventional wiki heavy or the terminology difficult to understand. All are not native speakers.

    As far as being ‘big’ or ‘small’ I do not get how not being unable to understand can make you ‘big’ . One of the things you do not seem to relate to is how the language is being used in our day to day lives. My mother tongue is hindi, we watch hindi news all the time (all mainstream hindi news channels) and one doesn’t need a dictionary to understand what the reporter is saying. To take another example (as I love cooking) even cookery shows take a very light practical approach towards explaining their recipes.

    This is what is needed on a wiki, if you take the high-brow route Hindi Wikipedia would never have the scale or the depth that it could have.

  3. आप सरल हिन्दी की वकालत करते हैं बेहतर है कि आगे का सारा जवाब हिन्दी में ही दें। मैंने आजतक किसी को नहीं देखा है जो किसी अंग्रेजी लेख के मुश्किल होने की बात करता हो, लेकिन कोई भी हिन्दी के किसी शब्द को मुश्किल साबित कर देता है। कारण है…अंग्रेजी मुश्किल कहेंगे तो आप कम पढ़े लिखे करार दिए जाएँगे लेकिन हिन्दी की कठिनाई की बात करके आप इस मुश्किल में तो नहीं पड़ते हैं। उल्टे आप कुछ ‘बड़े’ हो जाते हैं।

    अभी कुछ दिनों पहले बच्चे के स्कूल के पैरेंट मीट में गया था…वहाँ एक महिला ने कहा…इवन आई डोंट नो आफ्टर थर्टी थ्री. पता नहीं आप बच्चों को हिन्दी में सौ तक की गिनती क्यों बताते हैं। कल कुछ लोग आकर आपसे यह भी कहेंगे कि हमें तो तैंतीस पता ही नहीं है। हिन्दी को सरल बनाइए।

    हमें लगता है कि हिन्दी को तथाकथित ‘सरल’ बनाने के पीछे कुछ निहित स्वार्थ हैं। उसका पता लगाया जाना चाहिए।

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