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Fabrice Florin
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After three great years with the Wikimedia Foundation, the time has come to say goodbye.

Here’s my last report about our work on the blog this year: I really enjoyed sharing the stories of our movement, introducing readers to how Wikipedia works -- and collaborating with so many wonderful community and team members.

Starting this week, I will spend more time with friends and family, working on personal art projects — and consulting part-time on worthy causes.

I’m excited about this next chapter of my life: the last decade was all about facts and technology — my next decade will be about art and community.


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Here's the new video of our Pataphysical Slot Machine, a community-created poetic oracle. We're looking for an art venue to display it in the Bay Area this fall. Created with Howard Rheingold, Freddy Hahne, Stephanie Levene, Donald Day, Tim Pozar, and many other fellow pataphysicians. Collaborative art is a wonderful thing. More pix at

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How can we get journalists more involved in editing and updating Wikipedia? Is there a way to bring these two cultures closer together? I'm asking my journalist friends what it would take for them to contribute regularly to the encyclopedia.

Writer Amy Gahran asked some insightful questions about my new gig at Wikimedia and how it relates to our collective work in journalism, news literacy and civic engagement. This brought some new insights on how to engage [news] professionals and amateurs as active collaborators on Wikipedia.

Read on ... and chime in!

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Glad to see that the fight against SOPA/PIPA is gaining traction, as individuals and companies are banding together to stop these flawed bills from passing in Congress. I'm happy to say that Wikipedia will join the protest with a black-out on Wednesday (I now work with Wikimedia Foundation as product manager). I hope this will lead to more sensible legislation, and keep the Internet free while opposing copyright infringement -- to serve the needs of all stakeholders, not just Hollywood studios.
Finally, journalists see the threat from SOPA and ProtectIP: the American Society of News Editors (UPDATE: corrected the name) has asked Congress to stop this runaway train. From its letter (link is a PDF):

ASNE condemns content piracy, regardless of medium. Our members consider their content to be their most valuable asset. Unauthorized use of this content has always been a problem; its impact has increased with the advent of the Internet and has certainly undercut the financial well-being of America’s news media.

However, our members use the Internet in ways that could be construed to violate SOPA, and that’s not acceptable. Whether utilizing content contributed by third parties, stepping outside the direct reporter-source interaction to acquire and use information from websites around the world, or augmenting our stories through the use of multimedia previously unavailable to print-only publications, ASNE members continue to change the way news is presented. We fear that SOPA will restrict our ability to engage in these activities and stifle our capacity to innovate when we most sorely need the freedom to do so.

Ultimately, however, it is our longstanding dedication to First Amendment rights that drives our opposition to SOPA. Navigating the balance between copyright and free speech demands precision, and in seeking to protect the interests of copyright holders, the First Amendment requires Congress to adopt the least restrictive intrusion on speech available.
SOPA fails this test. It allows individual copyright owners to effect the most onerous restriction on speech — the prior restraint — with little evidence and virtually no due process, utilizing vague and overbroad definitions in the process. While it is directed at “rogue” websites engaged in widespread piracy, the law carries the real potential to go well beyond that narrow target. Without endorsing them, we note that more narrowly tailored alternatives have already been proposed. Their existence calls into question the constitutionality of SOPA and suggests that this Committee must reject H.R. 3261 and continue to examine other, less restrictive alternatives that strike the right balance between preventing piracy and protecting free expression.

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60 Minutes did an excellent report this weekend on 'insider trading' by some congressmen and senators, who have accumulated significant wealth by buying and selling stocks based on privileged, non-public information. Though this practice is not illegal, it seems highly unethical -- and apparently happens across party lines. Both John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi are interviewed about controversial transactions related to this issue. Highly recommended.

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Can you name this bird? Each fall, this migrating bird visits our neighborhood in Marin for a few weeks, and we have fallen in love with its distinctive, melancholic call, which you can hear in this short video. We don't know its name, so we just call it the Fall Bird.

To our Northern California friends: can you recognize this bird from its song? It's a small, brown bird, which is pretty hard to photograph. Any clues?

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Thoughtful analysis of our local news pilot in Baltimore, by Bruce Wallace, a former Baltimore journalist, on Columbia Journalism Review. This article is factual, well-sourced and fairly presents a variety of perspectives about our experiment.

To follow up on this fine article, check out our full project report on the NewsTrust blog:

Our report identifies some of the ways in which this service contributes to a more informed citizenry at the local level and we are grateful to OSF for the opportunity to test out these ideas.

The sustainability challenges are much more complex and would have required a more substantial investment to address, as stated in our report. It's an industry-wide issue which we don't claim to have answers for.

But we can say with some confidence that this type of service can be effective for engaging citizens to learn about and discuss local issues, develop their news literacy skills and bring their communities together.

We view civility as a virtue, and encourage participants to practice it in their daily lives. But it takes time to appreciate and develop this attitude, as we are constantly influenced by the more basic instincts of human nature.

We hope to see more services like these in the future.

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Insightful overview of the economic trends behind the Occupy Wall Street movement, by Business Insider CEO and Editor Henry Blodget. Seeing all these charts about rising inequality in the U.S. is a real eye-opener. This editorial features dozens of factual graphs and tables from credible sources, documenting record-high levels of unemployment versus rising corporate profits and CEO pay, in stark contrast with the decline of wages as a percent of the U.S. economy.

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For the past two weeks, the community fact-checked this claim by Barack Obama about tax rates for the middle-class versus millionaires.

We found this claim to be HALF TRUE.

The factual evidence we reviewed together suggests that the answer varies greatly depending on the individuals involved, and whether or not they pay taxes on wages or on investment income, or both. On the whole, we could only find partial support for President Obama's sweeping generalization. The facts suggest a much more nuanced answer, as people who make most of their money in wages pay taxes at a higher rate, while those who get most of their income from investments pay at lower rates -- but nobody seems to know in what proportions.

Do you agree or disagree with our findings? How can we improve this service? Please add your comments below, or email us to share your feedback (

This concludes our Truthsquad pilot for this month. We would like to thank all of the participants who contributed to this experiment. We really appreciate all of your great insights and hope you got as much from this experience as we did. The more we dig together, the more we learn as a community.

To learn more about Truthsquad, check our overview page:

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I met Steve Jobs a couple times while I worked as executive producer at Apple and Macromedia in the eighties and nineties. He was always an inspiration to me, though I did not dare engage him much.

Yet my most memorable moment in his epic lifeline was the launch of iPad, when he topped himself once again with perhaps his most brilliant invention.

This photo was taken on the day the iPad was released. I'm showing off our featured story about Steve Jobs, who is also holding an iPad. I was so happy that, our social news site, was working so well on this hot new platform.

I knew then he had changed the world one more time. He will be missed immensely.

I will abide by his words of advice at a commencement speech to students at Stanford six years ago, citing the Whole Earth Catalog:

Stay hungry, stay foolish.

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