William Beutler on Wikipedia

Posts Tagged ‘Adams Morgan’

“Treme” vs. “Treme (TV series)”

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on April 18, 2010 at 10:04 am

In more than one post on this blog I’ve written skeptically about the concept of “Wikigroaning” — the notion that important subjects sometimes have shorter articles than arguably less-important subjects that appeal to geek sensibilities. In the case of Raphael (archangel, artist or ninja turtle) and lightsaber vs. modern warfare, the complaint did not quite hold up. But I don’t mean to indicate the charge is never without basis.


With the second episode of HBO’s latest dramatic series, “Treme,” set to air this evening, I decided to compare two related Wikipedia articles — one about the New Orleans neighborhood, and the new TV drama from David Simon. What did I find?

In the first place, Treme is currently 10 Kb long while Treme (TV series) is closer to 17 Kb. On the face of it, the article about the series is substantially longer at present. And this is the case even though the former article has existed since April 2004 whereas the latter was created in March 2009.

It’s fair to say that both articles are in decent shape. The article about the neighborhood has a quality infobox featuring geographic and demographic information, and a concise History section is informative, if perhaps too concise. I compare this to the article about my neighborhood of Adams Morgan in Washington, DC, which has much more information (though fewer references to support them) and no comparable infobox of data. Each article could stand to learn something from the other.

But there is no use arguing that Treme (TV series) is not the better article. It is simply more carefully and completely written, with a more sophisticated article structure utilizing subsections for more in-depth coverage of certain aspects of the show. Plus, it has already spawned a secondary page, List of Treme episodes.

Is there a silver lining here? I think there may be. If the show becomes popular — at least popular enough to inspire a following similar to Simon’s earlier work — then it may well inspire someone or a few someones to become more interested in the neighborhood itself. To be sure, the series itself has already caused a spike of interest in the subject. And all it takes is one person to make it a personal project. If “Treme (TV series)” can do that, “Treme” will be the better for it.

Images via Wikipedia. Neighborhood photograph licensed under Creative Commons by Wikipedia contributor Infrogmation.

Change Your Wikitude

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on October 4, 2009 at 10:00 am

wikitude_itunesBecause I work in social media, every so often I’ll get the question: So, what’s the big new thing? For a couple of years now the answer has been “Twitter,” but the micro-blogging service finally “arrived” in early 2009, so I’ve needed a new answer. Lately, I’ve settled on “augmented reality.” As Wikipedia describes it:

Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with-, or augmented by virtual computer-generated imagery – creating a mixed reality.

I.e. Terminator-vision, more or less. Now that the iPhone, Android-enabled devices and many more smartphones on the way have cameras and GPS (and compass in the iPhone 3GS) it becomes possible to determine where someone is, what they are looking at and serve up information to them on the spot. And it’s a no-brainer to imagine that one of the first information resources likely to be used is Wikipedia—especially considering how many articles about real-world objects contain geographic coordinates for their subjects (for this you can thank the people at WikiProject Geographical coordinates).

Just this week a program called Wikitude, available to Android users for several months, hit the iTunes store. Wikitude actually pulls information from elsewhere too, but like the name implies, Wikipedia is a key resource. Ben Parr at Mashable explains:

The app, which only works on the iPhone 3GS model (since it has a compass), utilizes three layers of information and superimposes them on your iPhone: information from Wikipedia, local reviews from London-based Qype, and finally crowdsourced information from its Wikitude.me website. With it, you can tag any location with personal notes that others can see. You can’t tell me that isn’t awesome.

He is right. I can’t. And Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb writes:

It’s because Wikitude is so open to user generated content that I find it the most exciting of all the Augmented Reality apps. Unfortunately, none of these apps that I’ve tested on Android are performing fabulously yet – the GPS is just too imprecise and the data too sparse. These are early days though, and even today it’s a lot of fun to look at the world around you through Wiki articles.

As he indicates, Wikitude is not the only player in the game. Another one available for iPhone is Cyclopedia, which I didn’t focus on just because I didn’t want to pay for it (but here is Gizmodo’s review). Wikitude, on the other hand, is available for the low, low price of free. (And as Tom Peterson would say, “free is a very good price.”) I took it for a quick test run at the corner of 18th and Columbia in Washington, DC. Here’s what I saw looking south along 18th Street:


And looking west in the direction of Columbia Heights:


Not displayed here is the ability to adjust the distance it will scan, a list-view of POIs (Points of Interest) and settings, which include the ability to turn on and off the different sources of information as well as different types of information. If you just want information from Wikipedia, it’s just a few taps away. If you want information about shopping and sights but not traffic or towns, you can adjust this as well.

I’m not likely to use this a great deal here in Washington, DC where I’d at least like to think I know what everything is. But when I’m traveling, such as when I visit San Francisco for the first time later this month, I can see myself not only making use of the program but using it enough to move it temporarily onto my first page of apps.

Have you used Wikitude or a similar application? Anything you like or dislike about them? Please share in the comments.