Thank you for everything!
On this day, twenty years ago, on January 15, 2001, I started my third Website, Nodix, and I kept it up since then (unlike my previous two Websites, which are lost to history as Internet Archive didn't capture them yet, it seems). A few years later I renamed it to Simia.
Here is the first entry: Willkommen auf der Webseite von Denny Vrandecic!
My Website never became particularly popular, although I was meticulously keeping track of how many hits I got and all of this. It was always a fun side project for which I had sometimes more and sometimes less time.
The funniest thing is that it was - and that was completely incidental - exactly the same day that another Website was started, which I, over the years, spent much more time on: Wikipedia.
Wikipedia changed my life, not only once, but many times.
It is how I met Kamara.
It is how I met a lot of other very smart people, too. It became part of my research work and my PhD thesis. It became the motivation for many of the projects I have started, be it Semantic MediaWiki, Wikidata, or Abstract Wikipedia. It is the reason for my career trajectory over the last fifteen years. It is hard to overstate how influential Wikipedia has been on my life.
It is hard to overstate how important Wikipedia has become for modern AI and for the Web of today. For smaller language communities. For many, many people looking for knowledge. And for the many people who realised that they can contribute to it too.
Thanks to the Wikipedia community, thanks to this marvellous project, and happy anniversary and many returns to Wikipedia!
2020 was a challenging year, particularly due to the pandemic. Some things were very different, some things were dangerous, and the pandemic exposed the fault lines in many societies in a most tragic way around the world.
Let's hope that 2021 will be better in that respect, that we will have learned from how the events unfolded.
But I'm also amazed by how fast the vaccine was developed and made available to tens of millions.
I think there's some chance that the summer of '21 will become one to sing about for a generation.
Happy New Year 2021!
I have the honor of being the invited keynote for the SMWCon Fall 2020. I am going to talk "From Semantic MediaWiki to Abstract Wikipedia", discussing fifteen years of Semantic MediaWiki, how it all started, where we are now - crossing Freebase, DBpedia, Wikidata - and now leading to Wikifunctions and Abstract Wikipedia. But, more importantly, how Semantic MediaWiki, over all these years, still holds up and what its unique value is.
Page about the talk on the official conference site: https://www.semantic-mediawiki.org/wiki/SMWCon_Fall_2020/Keynote:_From_Semantic_Wikipedia_to_Abstract_Wikipedia
The site went down, again. First time was in July, when Apache had issues, this time it's due to MySQL acting up and frying the database. I found a snapshot from July 2019, and am trying to recreate the entries from in between (thanks, Wayback Machine!)
Until then, at least the site is back up, even though they might be some losses in the content.
P.S.: it should all be back up. If something is missing, please email me.
Wikidata crossed Q100000000 (and, in fact, skipped it and got Q100000001 instead).
Here's a small post by Lydia Pintscher and me: https://diff.wikimedia.org/2020/10/06/wikidata-reaches-q100000000/
I was surprised when Disney made the decision to sell Mulan on Disney+. So if you wanted to watch Mulan, you not only have to buy it, so far so good, but you have to join their subscription service first. The price for Mulan is $30 in the US, additionally to the monthly fee of streaming, $7. So the $30 don't buy you Mulan, but allow you to watch it if you keep up your subscription.
Additionally, on December 4 the movie becomes free for everyone with a Disney+ subscription.
I thought, that's a weird pricing model. Who'd pay that much money for streaming the movie a few weeks earlier? I know, it will be very long weeks due to the world being so 2020, but still. Money is tight for many people. Also, the movie had very mixed reviews and a number of controversies attached to it.
According to the linked report, Disney really knows what they're doing. 30% of subscribers bought the early streaming privilege! Disney made hundreds of millions in extra profit within three first few days (money they really will be thankful for right now given their business with the cruise ships and theme parks and movies this year).
The most interesting part is how this will affect the movie industry. Compare to Tenet - which was reviewed much better and which was the hope to revive the moribund US cinema industry, but made less than $30M - which also needs to be shared with the theaters and had much more distribution costs. Disney keeps a much larger share of the $30 for Mulan than Tenet makes for its production company.
The lesson from Mulan and Trolls 2, which also did much better than I would ever have predicted, for the production companies experimenting with novel pricing models, could be disastrous for theaters.
I think we're going to see even more experimentation with pricing models. If the new Bond movie and/or the new Marvel movie should be pulled from cinemas, this might also be the end of cinemas as we know them.
I don't know how the industry will change, but the swing is from AMC to Netflix, with the producers being caught in between. The pandemic massively accelerated this transition, as it did so many others.
When Gödel went to his naturalization interview, his good friend Einstein accompanied him as a witness. On the way, Gödel told Einstein about a gap in the US constitution that would allow the country to be turned into a dictatorship. Einstein told him to not mention it during the interview.
The judge they came to was the same judge who already naturalized Einstein. The interview went well until the judge asked whether Gödel thinks that the US could face the same fate and slip into a dictatorship, as Germany and Austria did. Einstein became alarmed, but Gödel started discussing the issue. The judge noticed, changed the topic quickly, and the process came to the desired outcome.
I wonder what that was, that Gödel found, but that's lost to history.
Gödel in his later age became obsessed with the idea that Leibniz had written a much more detailed version of the Characteristica Universalis, and that this version was intentionally censored and hidden by a conspiracy. Leibniz had discovered what he had hunted for his whole life, a way to calculate truth and end all disagreements.
I'm surprised that it was Gödel in particular to obsess with this idea, because I'd think that someone with Leibniz' smarts would have benefitted tremendously from Gödel's proofs, and it might have been a helpful antidote to his own obsession with making truth a question of mathematics.
And wouldn't it seem likely to Gödel that even if there were such a Characteristics Universalis by Leibniz, that, if no one else before him, he, Gödel himself would have been the one to find the fatal bug in it?
I am very happy about the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation having approved the proposal for the multilingual Wikipedia aka Abstract Wikipedia aka Wikilambda aka we'll need to find a name for it.
In order to make that project a reality, I will as of next week join the Foundation. We will be starting with a small, exploratory team, which will allow us to have plenty of time to continue to socialize and discuss and refine the idea. Being able to work on this full time and with a team should allow us to make significant progress. I am very excited about that.
I am sad to leave Google. It was a great time, and I learned a lot about running *large* projects, and I met so many brilliant people, and I ... seriously, it was a great six and a half years, and I will very much miss it.
There is so much more I want to write but right now I am just super happy and super excited. Thanks everyone!