Tim Berners-Lee, le père du Web, prépare un nouveau projet qui consiste à créer des « pods » stockant des données personnelles contrôlées par l’utilisateur lui-même
Learning Experience Platforms (LXP): How to Expand Your Knowledge … This software is where you store, deliver, and track your training content and … an outstanding eLearning platform that serves thousands of learners annually.
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BLENDED E-LEARNING Market includes Overview, classification, industry value, price, cost and gross profit. It also covers types, enterprises and …
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This is a tremendous loss in so many ways. Jonas Neubauer was one of the greatest classic Tetris players of all time in skill, spirit, and kindness.
Our hearts go out to his family and friends, and to the entire classic Tetris community, as we all mourn his passing. https://t.co/iOJWFdBuv0
— Tetris (@Tetris_Official) January 9, 2021
In his interview with Vice, Neubauer compared his playing style to a jazz pianist in that it could be pretty chaotic and that he always improvised instead of sticking to a plan. Aside from participating in the Classic Tetris World Championship, Neubauer has also been streaming on Twitch under the handle NubbinsGoody in the past few years. While he obviously streamed a lot of Tetris games, he also did videos featuring other games like Last of Us 2 and even Dungeons and Dragons.
The Classic Tetris World Championship’s website has posted a statement remembering Neubauer as a person and as a legend in the community. It includes a clip of his last match at the 2020 tournament, wherein he played against Jacob « Huffulufugus » Huff.
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Musk has been vocally critical of Facebook in the past, saying that he chose to delete Facebook accounts for SpaceX and Tesla in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018. He has also had spats with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally, the two of them having sniped at each other over Twitter and other social media platforms several times in the past.
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LYING DRUNK in a field outside the Austrian city of Innsbruck in 1971, inspiration struck Douglas Adams, a science-fiction writer. He looked at his copy of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Europe”, and then up at the stars, and came up with the idea for a “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. It would be a (fictional) mixture of travel book and encyclopedia, but with an absurd-seeming twist: instead of being written by experts, anyone could contribute.
Adams played his idea for laughs. But today it looks as prescient as it was funny. On January 15th Wikipedia—“the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit”—will celebrate its 20th anniversary. It will do so as the biggest and most-read reference work ever. Wikipedia hosts more than 55m articles in hundreds of languages, each written by volunteers. Its 6.2m English-language articles alone would fill some 2,800 volumes in print. Alexa Internet, a web-analysis firm, ranks Wikipedia as the 13th-most-popular site on the internet, ahead of Reddit, Netflix and Instagram.
Yet Wikipedia is an oddity. It defies the Silicon Valley recipe for success. The site has no shareholders, has generated no billionaires and sells no advertising. Today’s aspiring tech giants burn vast quantities of investors’ money subsidising taxi rides (Uber) or millennial messaging (Snap) in pursuit of “scale”. Wikipedia grew organically, as more and more ordinary people decided to contribute. The site has its roots in the techno-optimism that characterised the internet at the end of the 20th century. It held that ordinary people could use their computers as tools for liberation, education and enlightenment.
Like most Utopian thinking, the idea of an amateur encyclopedia was, for many years, treated as a bit of a joke. “A few endorse Wikipedia heartily. This mystifies me,” wrote a former president of the American Library Association in 2007. “A professor who encourages the use of Wikipedia is the intellectual equivalent of a dietician who recommends a steady diet of Big Macs with everything,” he sneered. Even now, after numerous academic studies highlighting its reliability, Wikipedia still lacks the gravitas and authority of older encyclopedias like “Britannica”, which are written by paid academic experts rather than amateurs. Schools, universities and The Economist’s fact-checkers frown on relying on it.
Wikipedia may not have vanquished its doubters in theory. But it has triumphed in practice. With over 20bn page views a month, it has become the standard reference work for anyone with an internet connection. As social-media sites are lambasted for censorship, “fake news”, disinformation and conspiracy theories, its reputation is higher than ever. Toby Negrin, chief product officer at the Wikimedia Foundation, the San Francisco-based charity that provides the site’s infrastructure, describes the online encyclopedia as a “guardian of truth”.
That sounds grandiose. But other tech behemoths now use it as a neutral arbiter. Conspiracy-theory videos on YouTube often come tagged with warning information from Wikipedia. Since 2018 Facebook has used Wikipedia to provide information buttons with the sources of news articles.
Others are also enthusiastic. In October the World Health Organisation (WHO) started working with Wikipedia to make information on covid-19 available via the site. It considered the collaboration vital to its efforts to prevent an “infodemic” of misinformation about the virus. Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive, which preserves websites for posterity, describes Wikipedia as “a treasure of the internet”.
Wikipedia’s value and influence are hard to compute. Its revenues come from charitable grants and donations from its users. “Wikipedia is an example of what I like to call ‘digital dark matter’,” says Shane Greenstein, an economist at Harvard who has studied the site closely. Like parenting and housework, contributing to it is a valuable service that, because it is unpaid, remains mostly invisible to standard economic tools.
A few researchers have tried to guess. One study in 2018 estimated that American consumers put a value of about $150 a year on Wikipedia. If true, the site would be worth around $42bn a year in America alone. Then add indirect benefits. Many firms use Wikipedia in profitable ways. Amazon and Apple rely on it to allow Alexa and Siri, their voice assistants, to answer factual questions. Google uses it to populate the “fact boxes” that often accompany searches based on factual questions. Facebook has started to do something similar. This drives traffic to Wikipedia from those keen to learn more. AI language models of the sort employed by Google or Facebook need huge collections of text on which to train. Wikipedia fits the bill nicely.
The cult of the amateur
Its biggest power is its subtlest. Since it is the first resort of students, professors, journalists and any number of curious people, its contributors do much to make the intellectual weather. The WHO’s decision to work with Wikipedia reflects research suggesting that the site is the most-read source of medical information in the world—for doctors as well as patients.
Its reach is clearest when things go wrong. In 2008 one user inserted a joke claiming that the South American coati, a small mammal, is sometimes known as the “Brazilian aardvark”. By the time the jape was revealed, in 2014, it had found its way on to various websites and into news articles and a book published by a university press. In 2012 a senior British judge was caught out when, in a report on the shortcomings and criminality of parts of the British press, he named Brett Straub as one of the founders of the Independent, a newspaper. Mr Straub has nothing to do with the Independent. His friends had been adding his name to Wikipedia’s pages as a joke.
Yet despite a string of notable embarrassments—and its own disclaimer that “Wikipedia is not a reliable source”—it is, on the whole, fairly accurate. An investigation by Nature in 2005 compared the site with “Britannica”, and found little difference in the number of errors that experts could find in a typical article. Other studies, conducted since, have mostly endorsed that conclusion. Explaining exactly why Wikipedia’s articles are so good is trickier. A common joke holds that it is just as well that Wikipedia works in practice, because it does not work in theory.
Deliberate decisions are one explanation. Wikipedia compares well with other reference works when it comes to honest mistakes, but it is uniquely vulnerable to vandalism and pranks. In an effort to combat them, says Mr Negrin, the site has developed algorithms that monitor articles for mischief. For America’s recent presidential election, editing articles was restricted to accounts more than 30 days old, and with at least 500 edits to their name.
Other reasons are structural. The site’s open nature and its popularity help ensure that errors in well-read articles are usually spotted and fixed quickly. (By the same token, mistakes in more obscure entries may languish for years.) Mr Greenstein notes that, unlike with a printed encyclopedia, “another paragraph doesn’t cost anything”. That means that ideological rows can often be defused simply by adding paragraphs outlining different views. The site’s intimidating list of rules means that new editors face a steep learning curve. But it also helps to filter out dilettantes, ideologues and bores with an axe to grind.
Wikipedia’s not-for-profit structure, points out Mr Kahle, means it can focus on the interests of readers and editors without having to consider the (possibly conflicting) demands of advertisers. The site is unusual since it is run by humans, not algorithms. Though social-media sites rely on idiot-savant computer programs to maximise “engagement” (ie, to sell more advertising), Wikipedia’s humans try to uphold woolly ideals such as accuracy, impartiality and arguing in good faith.
Much of its success, in other words, is because of the culture its users have created. It is evident in the discussion pages that accompany every article, as the site’s contributors debate with each other the noteworthiness of a topic, the quality of its primary sources, what information to include and to leave out, and more. Rules of thumb gradually become more solid guidelines. The Wikipedia page outlining the “Neutral Point of View”—one of the most widely discussed and referred to—runs to 4,500 words. It includes recommendations on how best to describe aesthetic opinions, which assumptions count as necessary, and which must be justified. It also points out the risks of providing “false balance” about controversial subjects.
Cultures constantly change. Relying on Wikipedia’s current one may, therefore, seem a risky strategy. Katherine Maher, the Wikimedia Foundation’s executive director and CEO, says that if Wikipedia did not already exist it might not be possible to create it on today’s fragmented, commercially minded internet. But given that it does, she is bullish about its prospects for survival. Much of the site’s work appeals to human nature, she says: “People love to be right, to demonstrate their competence.”
Even errors can be helpful. Ms Maher cites Cunningham’s Law, which holds that “the best way to get the right answer to a question on the internet…is to post the wrong answer.” She recalls meeting a committed Chinese editor who began contributing to the Chinese-language project because “a lot of what he saw was just wrong, and he felt he had to fix it!”
Keeping Wikipedia’s culture healthy means moving with the times. “Wikipedia is a child of the desktop internet,” says Mr Negrin. But “increasingly, when people talk about internet users, they’re talking about smartphones.” So the foundation is improving the site’s mobile-editing tools. Typing long articles on a smartphone is inescapably awkward, so attention has focused on helping users to make “micro-edits”, such as fixing spelling mistakes or correcting dates. The hope is that this will also act as a gateway drug for young editors and for those in poorer countries for whom smartphones are the standard or only way of getting online.
Attracting a steady supply of new editors is vital for Wikipedia’s long-term survival. So is attracting new kinds of contributors. Ms Maher estimates around 80% of Wikipedia’s editors are male, and skewed towards North America and Europe (see Graphic Detail). The encyclopedia itself is popular in America, Europe, Russia and Japan, but not much read in India and sub-Saharan Africa (see chart). Changing that, she says, is vital to the health of a project whose idealism remains undimmed. “Our vision is a world where every single human being can share in all knowledge,” she says. This time, such Utopianism is harder to dismiss. After all, it is backed up by 20 years of success. ■
This article appeared in the International section of the print edition under the headline « The other tech giant »
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Since the last March, like a lot of other people, I was forced to work remotely. It was not the first time, but somehow it went different. I quickly found out that not having a context switch between the office and home forced me into non-healthy behaviors like giving work all the available time.
The “normal” day could look like opening my laptop at 8-9 in the morning and leaving it only at 8-9 in the evening, saying “not today” to all hobbies, sport, and personal life. That was not scalable in the long run.
The latest reports on the remote work (that one from Buffer, for example) shows that I was not the only one. “Not being able to unplug” (read “I’m working or thinking about work all the time”) is almost on-par with loneliness and communication problems.
Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time tracking and categorizing my time, planning activities, and reading behavioral science research. All that trying to find the reason why I’m prioritizing work so quickly above everything else. And to find a way how to protect my life from that practice.
Plan explicitly and find the right triggers
The first rule that I came up with was so evident that it’s even a shame to mention. But still, it’s a cornerstone of everything: “plan all non-work things you want to do.”
Why? You usually commit to the outer side with work: you spend N-hours every day working or be penalized. On the other hand, there is usually zero commitment to life plans, except for a swift thought in the morning about how good it would be to go for a run today.
So, I’ve started explicitly making my plans: every morning creating a perfect list of things I want to do today:
having a proper dinner with my wife
start that one Coursera course, this time for real
It made some effect: at least every evening I was reminded how bad I’m at sticking to the morning plans. It looks like just filling a to-do list was not enough.
Why to-do lists don’t work
I found the answer while reading about BJ Fogg’s behavior model:
It states that we do something when three factors are working together: ability, motivation, and something that triggers us to do that.
I could do everything from my list, and there was no problem with the motivation. So it looks like I lacked a trigger.
When observing a to-do list, the brain clearly understands that this is a list of things to do today. But “today” is a lousy trigger: 8 a.m. is “today,” 2 p.m. too, and even the whole evening is still considered “today” by your brain.
So that trigger does not trigger anything until it is dark outside, and you move today’s plans for tomorrow.
The solution was easy: planning time for each activity in the calendar. Then the trigger is obvious — the exact starting time.
Typically, the calendar would send you a notification about that plan, so you can start doing it or decide to continue working and move “home workout” once again. But at least it will be an intentional decision that you need to spend some brain cycles on.
There are two essential points, though:
I’ve started slowly adding only one item per day and controlling if I’m not overwhelmed. Cramming everything into one day from the start would be a recipe for disaster.
I wanted to minimize the amount of guilt that technique may bring to my life. So I’ve decided that the schedule I’m building is just a tool to help me navigate, not precise schematics. It should evolve with my day but not constrain it: I can replan at any moment or abandon it altogether. The only requirement that this should be an intentional decision, not something I would do on “auto-pilot.”
That worked like a miracle. I gradually planned more and more parts of my day. That liberated my brain from constant discussions with myself about what I should do next and if it’s really worth it.
So, in the end, I didn’t stop only on things from the list above and decided to crank the approach to the max: scheduling more or less the whole day in the calendar, even including sleep.
But there were some side-effects of that approach that I haven’t expected.
Building time awareness
The first side-effect was a clear awareness about what is suffering when I blindly agree to a meeting invitation that just hit my inbox.
When I had only work events in my calendar, I had a lot of “free” time, especially in the evenings. So there was no apparent reason to say “no” to that invite: look, your calendar says that you’re free.
But in reality, I was not: I had plans to spend that time on myself, with my family, or on sleep; it was just not explicit. So it was hard to understand the implications of that new meeting when your plans are only in your head.
Adding personal plans and sleep changed the picture. Every invite makes obvious the consequences of accepting it and forces me to decide how to handle the conflict based on the current priorities. Or maybe ask the colleague if we need to have that meeting.
Your day doesn’t have 24 hours
If you open your calendar, it could give you the impression that you have all the time in the world: there is so much white (or darkish grey if you’re a fan of dark themes).
When you start planning your sleep in the calendar, you would have a stark revelation that days are way smaller, and so is the amount of white.
If you want to have recommended 8-9 hours of sleep per night, then you’re spending around 9-10 hours in bed, which means only having 14-15 hours in your day.
That visualization tricked my brain and made me question the quality of my time spending way more often throughout the day.
Also, having a clear understanding of what I should do now had an unexpected result of stopping procrastination. It is harder to explain to yourself why you’re on youtube right now when you’ve decided to start working, and the block has already begun.
Reflecting on the day structure
It’s easy to overestimate how much time you spend on whatever activity without having the hard numbers. Planning in the calendar allowed me to reflect on how I’m structuring my day in the percentage of the total non-sleeping time.
That shows if you’re really “walking the walk” and sticking to your priorities.
Also, it helps to spot some patterns. That way, I understood that having more than 40% of my day dedicated to work leaves me drained and tired by its end. As a result, I normally plan about 7-8 slots of 45 minutes (4-5 in the morning, 3-4 after lunch).
The important point here that by “work” I mean either focused work or being in a meeting, not the time when I’m just in front of the laptop or drifting around. If I feel stuck or distracted for some reason, it’s way more effective not to try to plow through but plan a short break or a walk. Then the solution will come to you naturally just in a couple of minutes after leaving the workplace.
It is also important to structure my work polyphasically: splitting the workday into 2-3 parts with a big break in between: lunch + longer walk, for example. Doing that, I could focus more and felt way better in the end. Remote work allows you to be creative with your schedule; it is great to use that perk.
But the worst surprise was seeing that sometimes I spend only 1% of the day working out while thinking of myself as a fit guy who trains a lot. 🤷♂️
The system is simple enough that you can implement it in any calendar app. But some things drove me mad about the amount of manual work they required:
When I plan my day, I think about the duration of blocks (like 45 minutes of working out). But the calendar forces me to think about the exact start time and placement first. That drains brain energy.
Changing things is tedious, too: if you start a block earlier or later, you need to move all the blocks below one by one manually. It’s even worse if you want to have some slack between them to avoid back-to-back.
Categorizing can be done by creating different calendars or colors: it would give you a good visualization of your day’s structure. But if you want numeric stats, you need to start summing up time manually or writing scripts.
The second point was the most painful one. As I said earlier, the plan should evolve with your day and support you, not be a restraining tool. So, from the beginning, I’ve decided that I should feel zero guilt changing it.
I was often adapting my schedule, and it generated a lot of manual overhead. In the end, I got an idea of extending the calendar with a new concept: time block. I fill in the name and the duration, and the calendar would be responsible for placing it into a non-occupied spot.
My daily schedule would be a list of those auto-placed blocks mixed with the classic calendar events (typically meetings). With that approach, I can spend no time creating the schedule, and what is more critical — painlessly replan if something changes.
Another important thing was the ability to add a category to every block and event. That allowed me to create stats for a day automatically, as shown on the screenshot above.
I did a prototype in a couple of weeks and liked the results. So I’ve decided to create a proper iOS app that would follow those ideas. I will release it to the App Store eventually, but if you want to try it for yourself already, leave your email, and I will share the beta.
Moving forward with time awareness
The primary metric that I’m optimizing for right now is the number of days that feel “worth it” by the end of it.
It’s easy to have this feeling when you achieved some breakthrough, got promoted, or some other good thing happened. But the goal here is to optimize for a different kind of day: when everything falls apart. If I manage to handle those, the “good” ones will be a no-brainer.
Building a skill of time awareness and some rules around it allowed me to isolate failures. Even if something terrible happens at work, having my routine preplanned helps me not to abandon it. And completing it makes that day bearable and protects me from going into the pit of despair.
Thank you for reading!
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But if not, then what about planning it for tomorrow?
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