Friday, April 07, 2006

Wikepedia, blog terms and quotations

I love the idea of Wikipedia, and use it quite a bit for information, but would not be too sure of it in a life-threatening situation. It is brilliant on many things (the Colorado River for example), and incredibly topical compared with a traditional reference work, even other online ones, in terms of how quickly it is updated. I suppose, therefore, it was inevitable that Wikipedia would come up with a listing of blogging terms. A bit earlier on today, when I first saw the list, I put in a footnote to ask someone to enter "carnival", as I keep coming across them and don't know exactly what they are (though obviously they are some kind of aggregate -- but blogs, postings, links? And are there rules?). By the time I next came online, someone has inserted it: "Blog carnival A blog article that contains links to other articles covering a specific topic. Most blog carnivals are hosted by a rotating list of frequent contributors to the carnival, and serve to both generate new posts by contributors and highlight new bloggers posting matter in that subject area. " Thanks, Wikipedia-- and thanks for the great list of blogging's specialist vocabulary. Now I know there is a "momosphere" (blogs written by mothers); that a "shocklog" is to produce discussion by posting shocking content; and that to be "slashdotted" means to be temporarily (one hopes) slowed down by a major website sending huge loads of content that can slow down the server. Unlikely in the extreme to happen to Petrona, but interesting nonetheless. All this and more at the Wikipedia link. While on the topic of useful reference sources (well, "useful" may be stretching it a bit in the case of the blog listing), I've come across a site called, which is a massive collection of quotations (more than 66,000, says the site). On the homepage are random quotes, popular quotes and recent quotes. One of popular's: "If I only had an hour to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 45 minutes sharpening my axe. -- Abraham Lincoln (bio) ". "who is This site has been around in my head for years, long ago I lost literally thousands of quotes in an old sharp 128k "electronic organizer" I had, dead batteries = lost data, bummer! At any rate after seeing many of the social bookmarking sites pop up I decided to throw some code at an attempt to take my quotes (and those of my friends) online in a searchable and shareable way... was born! Found lots of quotes sites out there, but many left much to be desired. Here is my spin on how it should be..." One aspect of the site that attracted my attention is the tag clouds. These are on two pages, "authors" and "tags". On the "authors" page are the 250 most popular authors. By far the largest (i.e. most popular) author is Ambrose Bierce. I am not surprised, but only in retrospect. Judging by eye, next (equal) are Ralph Waldo Emerson and someone called Jack HanleyHandey* (Deep Thoughts) of whom I don't think I have heard (HanleyHandey, that is, not Emerson). Next , at roughly the same size, are Oscar Wilde (I'd have guessed him to be the most popular), Shakespeare (or him), Mark Twain, Goethe, Shaw, Franklin and Einstein. Anonymous and the Bible don't appear until the next tranche, together with a lot of others. On the "tags" page is a cloud of popular tags (search words, mainly). Largest by some way is "men" (!), followed by "wisdom", "life" and "knowledge" (roughly equal), followed again by the similar in size "miscellaneous", "age", "art". Women are pretty small, I'm afraid. There is a nice tools page where you can obtain code to paste into your site, so you can have either random or tagged (you can choose the tag) quotes of the day. *See comments