I am way too excited to visit this church.


Exploration! Adventure! Scavenger Hunt!

Okay…having used my weekly allotment of exclamation marks, let me take a deep breath and tell you about how I’m probably going to be spending my weekend.

I just clicked on a banner ad while I was in Wikipedia and was directed to the website Wiki Loves Monuments. It’s a big crowd-sourcing project designed to add photos to the Wikimedia library. And when I say “big” it’s like I’m saying “the sun is big.” 40 countries are participating and tens of thousands of people are expected to take part.

So here’s the exciting, scavenger hunt-like part. You don’t just upload any old photograph of any old monument; Wikipedia has a list of the monuments of which they want photos. I haven’t heard of a lot of these places so it’s time to go exploring! I downloaded the Wiki Loves Monuments app for Android – I can use the GPS function to help me find and identify local landmarks. But I can also find them beforehand using my country’s Wiki Loves Monuments webpage. Here’s the United States:

US level

Image shows a MapQuest map of the United States, Canada and Mexico with regional capitals displayed. Text at the top of the image includes instructions for how to use the interactive map.

When I get down to the Twin Cities level I start to see large circles indicating numbers of monuments in the area:

494 694 level

The 494/694 loops shows four blue circles with the number of monuments in those areas.

And at the city level – in this case, Minneapolis – exact location markers for each monument become visible.

Minneapolis level

Mapquest Map of Minneapolis – approximately 50 green markers are displayed.

I work in the southwest metro and one of the monuments that’s not too far from me is a Catholic Church called St. Hubert’s. When I click on the green tag, information about the monument comes up:

St. Hub

A zoomed in map of the Chanhassen/Eden Prairie/Minnetonka area. A pop-up window containing a photo of St. Huberts and the address of the church is visible, as well as four other green tags indicating other nearby monuments.

So…that’s how I’ve arrived at starting my weekend at a Catholic church.

I heartily support crowd-sourcing and free licensing (yay Creative Commons!), I love exploring, I love photography and I am a pretty frequent user of Wikimedia content. I am So. Excited. to get moving on this!

If you want to participate, make sure to check out the Wiki Loves Monuments webpage and the guidelines about uploading photos, find monuments in your country and area, and then go have fun! And if you are already participating or decide to start, let me know – maybe we will be able to do a post about the monuments that Biodork readers have visited!

I am way too excited to visit this church.

How successful were the SOPA and PIPA Blackouts?

Welcome back to the internet, everyone! Did you miss it? I missed it, but there were a couple of amusing highlights:

1) @herpderpedia – User @qrush made this Twitter account, which acted as a repository for all of the tweets from people freaking out about Wikipedia going dark. The F*bomb was dropped quite a bit, many users mourned the “death” of Wikipedia with RIPs, and there were  frantic queries from students about how they were supposed to finish reports. If you suffer from an overflow of hope for the human race, this will bring you back down with a healthy shot of cynicism.

WTF, Wikipedia!? How am I supposed to graduate now? Thanks for nothing! Image source

2) #FactsWithoutWikipedia was a  hilarious timesuck. People created stories, lies, satire and other “facts” about life, the universe and everything. And of course, a quick Wikipedia search was unable to dispel any of these during the blackout.

3) After a full day of laughing at those afflicted with #herpderpedia, I went to put together my write-up for this weekend’s interview with Sean Faircloth on Atheists Talk radio, and I had a moment of panic when I clicked on the bookmark of his wikipedia page and was denied.

Image source

Okay, it was a very quick moment of panic, because there were very simple work-arounds for getting to Wikipedia yesterday (after all the point was to raise consciousness about SOPA and PIPA, not to deny people access to the site). But, I decided to get my information the “old-fashioned” by going to the electronic sources of the information that Wikipedia articles mine to get their information. You know, the number two and three results that come up when you Google a subject.

Wikipedia has a page up now with their estimates of the success of the blackout. From Wikipedia:

Was the blackout successful?

The English Wikipedia joined thousands of other web sites in protesting SOPA and PIPA by blacking out its content for 24 hours. The purpose of the blackout was twofold: to raise public awareness, and to encourage people to share their views with their elected representatives.

During the blackout:

The page also reiterates some of the basic information about the bills, what we can to do keep up-to-date on SOPA and PIPA as they progress through Congress, and next steps that we can take in working to defeat SOPA/PIPA.

Wikipedia wasn’t the only site that went dark in protest of SOPA/PIPA. How was you day affected by yesterday’s blackouts?

How successful were the SOPA and PIPA Blackouts?