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Academics widen onslaught on Wikipedia

category international | arts and media | other press author Friday January 18, 2008 12:32author by Fu manchu Report this post to the editors

Tara Brabazon is Professor of Media Studies a the University of Brighton and Director of the Popular Culture Collective. She's an author of a few bits & bobs on internet use, media culture & is building quite a profile for herself for attacking Google & Wikipedia claiming that they undermine educational & didactic processes & more than Harry Potter actively contribute to turning our kids brains (& minds) to utter mushy shite.

Thing is, her arguments are proving to interest & influence far beyond the generally airified chitchat discussions of Media Studies university departments. Today's "Liberation" the French leftwing daily reports how the "Just say No to Wikipedia!" stickers are appearing across the USA in high schools as well as public amenity libraries. The cultural link with Nancy Reagan's "Just say no to Drugs!" ought be obvious.
filling your heads with citations, proofs, ideas & no trivia!
filling your heads with citations, proofs, ideas & no trivia!

today's article in the media supplement to "Liberation" (French language)

Tara Brabazon's home site -

The collective she is credited with leading ("Popular Culture Collective") http://popularculturecollective.com/

She's written several books the titles of which suggest a thinking & punning mind :-
The Revolution will not be Downloaded (editor; forthcoming), The University of Google, Playing on the Periphery, From Revolution to Revelation, Liverpool of the South Seas (editor), Digital Hemlock, Ladies who Lunge and Tracking the Jack.

Well & cool you might think, there's nothing authoritarian in wikipedia when you want to raise your kids the proper way (trolling for erotic misadventures their teachers might have left on youtube) &ensuring they don't stray far from the Disney Movie "Noah's Ark" Creationism.

So........what can you as a parent do you do about it?
Easy - ban Harry Potter. Chemically castrate your kids if they pass a basic spot skills test in hand rolling cigarettes. Send them to UCD to really listen to Le Pen. Explain to them that the internet is filled with {to quote "The Daily Telegraph" writer Damian Thompson (& author of "Counterknowledge")} psuedo fact hunger

The issues raised are really very interesting as we pass the 5th anniversary of Creative Commons at the end of 2007 & ask ourselves is the 21st century equivalent of 18th century efforts to liberalise education & knowledge suceeding? Yet again we find ourselves in a perversely "gnostic" approach to the teaching of critical thought, & objective history. Yes, Ms Brabazon is tippy toppy clever & writes books with titles whose obvious puns are really only funny to those who have previously considered the cognitive dissonance of watching a television documentary entitled "the revolution won't be televised". But that's clever people with students loans & a lifetime of Guardian reading or Channel4 telly watching behind them. It's not the poor kids of the USA.

At end, I can see many good reasons for banning kids from using internet search engines to pad their essays or cheat research - but only if they have libraries or real live old people to ask "what was 1974 really like?" Likewise, I suppose attacks of such a nature on Google (but no at this moment wikipedia) might break the dominance of "googleware" & bring us back such well buried delights as the former "ungoogle" search engine.

here's a report in English from a local commercial newspaper on Brabazon's ban -

& following the French link will offer blogs of parents' groups across the USA as they consider following suit. Ironically the Wikipedia foundation has garnered so much support for attempting the very opposite of what the now "cleverclogs" Brabazon & swampfascist Americans are teaming up on. So I'll leave you with Brabazon's own wikipedia entry - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tara_Brabazon

Related Link: http://www.ecrans.fr/Wikipedia-banning,2684.html
author by wikipedianpublication date Sun Jan 20, 2008 23:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

& most interestingly the virus or worm used was "ILOVEYOU" or as it also sometimes called the "lovebug" which caused squillion of quids worth damage back in the year 2000. Interesting to think that almost 8 years later someone still has it & thought to stick it in the wikipedia sandbox. Oh yes, it's the psychology of it all.

...."In an exclusive report, Wikinews has learned that on Wednesday January 16, 2008 two users, one anonymous and the other only known as User: MODX added code onto Wikipedia for a computer virus known as the LoveLetter virus or the ILOVEYOU virus."........."The ILOVEYOU virus or worm started in the Philippines on May 4, 2000 in e-mails titled 'I Love You'. In less than a day, it managed to spread across the entire globe, traveling to Hong Kong, to Europe, and then the United States. At least 10% of the world's computers that had internet access were infected with the virus. It would overwrite your files on you computer with a copy of itself. Music, system files, multimedia and many others were affected. Most damage was caused removing the virus which cost, in global total, US$5.5 billion."

"Two aspects of the worm made it effective: * It relied on social engineering to entice users to open the e-mail and ensure its continued propagation. * It employed a mechanism — VBScripts — that, while not entirely novel, had not been exploited to such a degree previously to direct attention to their potential, reducing the layers of protection that would have to be navigated for success" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ILOVEYOU

...."This worm program is believed to have been written by Michael Buen. The Barok trojan used by the worm is believed to have been written by Onel de Guzman, a Filipino student of AMA Computer University in Makati, Philippines. An international manhunt for the perpetrator finally led to a young programming student, on May 11th (one week after the virus spread), he held a news conference and said that he didn't mean to cause so much harm......."

I remember it causing quite a curfuffle because the arrest warrent was served by the FBI. & now check this out - neither Michael Buen or Onel de Guzman ever got a wikipedia entry. ;-) But...."Narinnat Suksawat, a 25-year-old Thai software engineer, who was the first person to write software that repaired the damage caused by the worm, releasing it to the public on May 5, 2000, 24 hours after the worm had spread. "Rational Killer," the program he created, removed virus files and restored the previously removed system files so they again functioned normally. Two months later, Narinnat was offered a senior consultant job at Sun Microsystems and worked there for two years. He resigned to start his own business. Today, Narinnat owns a software company named Moscii Systems, a system management software company in Thailand." did get a mention.

But where wikipedia won't go, the BBC often get stick their snout in. They got exclusive rights on interviews with both young geeks http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/817269.stm & in the end the FBI thing fell apart at the seams :- "........The Philippine Department of Justice has ruled that a law invoked against suspects in the Love Bug e-mail worm case can't be stretched to apply to hacking, the Associated Press reports. The decision will hamstring investigators, who were forced to scramble to find a basis to charge the suspects, since hacking is not a crime under Philippine law. After an extensive period of head-scratching, frustrated National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents settled on a 1998 law dealing with the fraudulent use of credit cards, account numbers and passwords. The law carries a ghastly penalty of up to 20 years in prison......" http://www.theregister.co.uk/2000/05/18/love_bug_suspec...cant/

& so the global plod of the FBI, the cleverclogs at Sun microsystems & just in case you're very product loyal - the folks in both Microsoft & Macintosh worked away at the problems & issues and in consort with the subsequent emerging players in "internet security" [Norton & Panda in particular] they ensured that none of our computers would ever have a sick day again. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antivirus_software

Not since then has any kid had the excuse in computer studies class - " a virus ate my homework". I could leave you with a link to the Internet governance people & the EFE : but I'm not.
I'll just say this - whomever put the lovebug on the wikisandbox has one twisted sense of humour and a very comprehensive computer memory system * or they knew how to make it all over again.
Either way we're looking at someone who has enjoyed excellent "computer studies" facilities in a university & you know they way these things always come down to psychology - that person has either left their job in the last weeks or did so almost two years ago to the date. & the last bit of speculative guesswork - I reckon they also sent that virus to some specific people (not that it would get through most contemporary antivirus software) but put it somewhere else.

There's a story in here. a geek follow up - solving the mystery will surely happen soon.

author by Fu Manchu - "manchuria for the manchurians!"publication date Mon Mar 17, 2008 00:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sunday's French newspaper edition of "Le Monde" included an interesting analysis of the continuing campaign by US Christian fundamentalists & myriad Business interests shy of negative publicity who are continuing their attacks on Wikipedia. The article also reports on a new site in the French language called " wikipedia.un.mythe.org " which warns its visitors against joining the more than 220 million hits a month to the encyclopedia it describes as "un projet anarchiste (...) entre les mains d'un gang" ( = an anarchist project.....in the hands of a gang )

Well now, it's been years since I for one went through my contemplation of the wikipedia thing, & though perturbed initally (2002-2003); by the paucity of contributions in European languages, the weightiness of entries on scientific or computing subjects (which were then justified by the employment profile of the main usership of the site), the extraordinary interest taken in the site back then by the Mormons (they were the first & smallest globalised religious group to get their whole wares through the sandbox) & the now happily erased legion of dodgey biographies and promotional pieces on US garage bands - I have come to champion the project & see in it a perfect & natural complement to the global indymedia movement whose own development has charted many stages in some places good and others bad , whereas the just over 5 year old indymedia ireland site is one which has led the way in technological innovation thanks to the constantly updated "oscailt software" the original home site of the movement in Seattle collapsed as did another vital node that of Italy.

Sunday's "Le Monde" piece reported on the new speed at which the ranks of "wikignomes" and "wikipedians" &c are ensuring attacks on the entries (at least in English) are improving. Obscenities added to rewrites are now being removed by volunteers "within minutes". But the sister projects of the wiki dictionary still have to attract serious efforts & I personally found an etymological error only yesterday whilst checking my cryptic crossword solution. Indeed, wikipedia has gone from a project which like indymedia invited scorn for its "open-ness" to one which is a now essential resource for pedants & students alike in the case of the former and activists & campaigners in the latter. Rival websites to wikipedia which promised to be "more academically serious" such as Citizendium have not captured either the interest of the public or the excellence of contributors they had hoped. Likewise with Indymedia, in Ireland the portals "politics-ie" or "freedom institute" which in their day both attacked indymedia ireland & hoped to provide political commentary have gone to the cache space of dead & forgotten pages.

So, it's not surprising that in the case of Wikipedia at least, the nature of attacks have altered. In the last week Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales was accused by Novell chief scientist Jeffrey Merkey who claims "......he donated $5,000 to the Wikimedia Foundation in exchange for changes to his Wikipedia entry. Mr Merkey says Mr Wales agreed to "use his influence" to remove libellous remarks in the entry......."

Mr Wales denied the allegations & there was a bit of hoo-haa-haa which you can read about at this BBC article http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7291382.stm

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