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Your favorite internet magazine. Published twice monthly with Free Content. [Issue #1, Archived]

Music —

Nothing New Has Ever Begun

Twice Monthly Mixtape by Jesse Alejandro

Nothing New Has Ever Begun “The Coyotes” give out Pro Tools session files from their new album for download, and Jesse Alejandro introduces us to this intriguing, genre-bending Seattle band. Read | Download Album

Network —

IP Censorship in Beijing

This Month in Network By Ryanne Hodson

Ryanne Hodson’s first-hand account of internet censorship & police intimidation Read more …

The Fattening of the Client

This Month in Network By Sam Clearman

Why every developer needs to brush up on his Javascript right now— Read more …

Politics —

Presidential Internet

This Month in Politics by Jacob Perkins

presedential internet Jacob Perkins explores how Obama and McCain use network technology in their presidential campaigns and breaks down their respective technology platforms.
Read more …

Feature —

Is the Free Encyclopedia a Democratic Encyclopedia?

October 1st 2008 By Dick Clark


This term “democratic” gets tossed around a lot, usually in a positive, “power to the people rather than some arbitrary ruler” sense. By that meaning, Wikipedia is indeed democratic. Yet, unlike a state democracy, 51% at the polls will not necessarily trump a Wikipedia adversary. So in the sense that the word “democracy” comes loaded with a “one man, one vote” ideology, Wikipedia is not democratic at all. And it is a good thing that Wikipedia isn’t a democracy.

In pure democracies, majorities get to dictate terms to minorities. In the real world, this means murder, mayhem, involuntary wealth transfers, and subjugation. Thankfully, Wikipedia content disputes do not deal with controlling people, but only control the Wiki-canon. However, it is not only this incidental feature that differentiates Wikipedia from democratic political systems. Wikipedia does not purport to be a democracy at all. Rather, it is a free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. It is both “free as in speech” and “free as in beer, ”as the old copyleft saying goes. That is, all of the original encyclopedic content is published under an open license (GFDL, CC Attribution, public domain, etc.) that allows commercial republication by third parties, even in modified form, for free.

Jimbo Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, first conceived of the notion of a free, user-content-driven encyclopedia after economist Mark Thornton pointed him to an essay on "The Use of Knowledge in Society" by Nobel Prize-winning Austrian economist F.A. Hayek. Hayek too was a proponent of “democracy,” in the “power to the people” sense, but his prize-winning economic views were not in favor of monolithic, bureaucratic, social democratic systems. Rather, Hayek’s work showed the superior efficiency of resource allocation by decentralized information analysis among many voluntary actors in the marketplace, each acting to bring about his or her own self-interested ends. Centrally planned bureaucracies cannot do what the market does because, “[t]he ‘data’ from which the economic calculus starts are never for the whole society ‘given’ to a single mind which could work out the implications and can never be so given.” No one can know everything that is potentially relevant to everything else, and since no one can know everything, no one mind can rightfully be charged with efficiently allocating all scarce resources. It is only through the distributed information processing of the market, rather than the linear processing of any one entity, that an optimal result can be reached.

For Wikipedia, distributed information processing is facilitated by a few things: (1) software that can track changes and allow for collaborative editing, (2) free licenses that allow everyone to legally modify everyone else's work and also allow wide enough distribution to entice new users, and (3) a set of subcultural norms that function well as the basis for productive interaction between strangers with competing perspectives on many different topics.
Read more …

Code —

Under the Hood Of Bandcamp

This Month in Review by Sam Clearman

band camp Serial software developer Joe Holt talks to Sam Clearman about his newest project, Bandcamp: the website for bands and their music that finds a new revenue model for the record industry.
Read more …

Editing In Place With Prototype

This Month in Code by Thomas Steinmetz

prototype for example Resident programmer Thomas Steinmetz walks us through the cleanest, driest, and most direct method for editing in place with Prototype. Read more …

HTML Special Characters Reference

This Month in Code by Boaz Sender

html special characters elipses A simple quick cheat sheet for special typographical characters. Read more …

Comics —

Black Hole Kills Programmer

This week's programmer comic by Rick Waldron

collider black hole

Information Wants To Be Free

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