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Can't help but feel like we took a wrong turning somewhere along the way.

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How's the world of engagement-driven social media?

Facebook yesterday: a string of "you won't believe what they said next" clickbait and then an advert from a guy in Sierra Leone building houses (they look quite nice, tbf, good luck to him)

Twitter today: a promoted ad from a throwaway account linking an article presumably touting some bullshit crypto/AI startup, which then has a lengthy editorial note attached saying the person quoted never said it.

Andrew boosted

#2748 Radians Are Cursed 

Phil Plait once pointed out that you can calculate the total angular area of the sky this way. If the sky is a sphere with radius 57.3 degrees, then its area is 4*pi*r^2=41,253 square degrees. This makes dimensional analysts SO mad, but you can't argue with results.

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Many of the available text corpora have by now been used for training language models. One untapped corpus so far have been our private messages and emails.

How fortunate that none of the companies that train large language models have access to humongous logs of private chats and emails, often larger than any other corpus for many languages.

How fortunate that those who do have well working ethic boards established, who would make sure that such requests are evaluated.


Today's historical footnote: three Scottish soldiers who were taken prisoner in 1940 managed to escape, got picked up ten days later...

... and then talked Gaelic at their captors until someone decided they were Russian and it was easiest to just let them go.

(How no-one made a film of this I do not know.)

Andrew boosted

Nine takeaways from the #DHd2023
@sucho keynote by @quinnanya & @storytracer
1. It does not take a war for cultural heritage to get lost: disasters & budget cuts can be almost as devastating
2. Only open culture is safe: digitization & open access are not luxuries, but necessary precautions
3. During a war there is little time for 'best practices' or teaching people 'the proper way'
4. It won't matter what sort of 'copyright issues' you had if your archive was bombed to the ground BEFORE it became open
5. Children, retirees, and random internet 'data-hoarding' hobbyists could make up a surprisingly big digitization 'crowd force'
6. Culture workers and volunteers are eager to digitize, but they miss free, independent & reliable platforms to upload the digitized data
7. People seem to think the internet 'backs itself up': free commercial cloud services have eroded digital literacy and caused digital alienation
8. We need to make tech HUMAN again
9. Solidarity with Ukraine!

(/cc @LucasWerkmeister note the odd mixed valuation again - the charge here is "value 6l" but the wholesalers paid 55s and 30s, not 2l 15s or 1l 10s...)

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1807: a man is charged at the Old Bailey for "feloniously stealing on the 25th of June , seven pine apples, value 6 l.". A pound a pineapple!

(Transportation for seven years)

Delightful detail: the price at Covent Garden, where he fenced them, was less because they did not have a few inches of stalk - the stalk seems to have been used to show they had not previously been on a table as a centrepiece, and boosted the price.

Had a thought yesterday: one of the numbers I've always meant to track down is how many "article topics" there are: not distinct articles, but things on which we have an article in 1+ languages.

Best current guess: 21-22m, give or take, based on the figures. (My previous wild guess had been 15m, so a bit of an undercount)

(Numbers calculated with help from @vrandecic & James Heald)

Andrew boosted

The longest distance anyone on Earth has photographed something else on Earth is 443km. The photographer was in the Pyrenees, taking a photo of the Alps.

Wonderful early-Victorian court-case (Globe, 25/7/1845): young gentleman up from the country gets so overwhelmed by the excitement of the big city he starts ringing doorbells at 3am, gets promptly locked up until the next day and fined 20s.

I do love how the old detective novels gently transmute over time from "gripping contemporary mystery" to " little gems of social history with a plot hanging around somewhere"

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Oddly enough it looks like this is almost the same flight as in Agatha Christie's 'Death in the Clouds' (1935), where the murder happens on the Le Bourget - Croydon route. That does not seem to dwell so lovingly on the details of the flight, though - was Christie a bit more well-travelled and blasé about such things, perhaps?

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(/cc @Airminded, if you have not come across this particular gem before...)

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This morning's reading: 'The 12:30 From Croydon' (1934), an odd detective novel: chapter two starts with the murderer plotting how to do it. But the really interesting bit is ch1: a starstruck description of the flight from London to Paris from the perspective of a child who has never been in a plane before. So many unexpected details!

A thing I have learned today: Windows 10/11 machines quietly build a giant search index file. And by 'giant' I mean I just found mine was 8GB (on a laptop with 11GB free space). After rebuilding search: 5GB. Well, that's something...

Andrew boosted

#Wikidata and the sum of all video games − 2022 edition: status update on our endeavour to become the hub of all video game metadata.

A bit of experimenting with sitelinks: of mixed-gender married couples where both have enwiki articles, the men average 3.3x as many sitelinks as the women (median 1.5x), but there is quite a wide distribution - around 1/3 of women have more sitelinks than their husbands.

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The oddity is that this value seems to be pretty common across projects - Portuguese is up to 5% and German down to 3.5%, but Finnish, English, Hindi, Japanese are all around 4%. No idea what that might indicate, but interesting to note.

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Bit of fun today: pairs of people who both have an English article and are married to one another. Represents ~4% of English WP biographies.

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