Sunday, February 28, 2016

#Wikidata - Dorothea Dix

Mrs Dix is remembered on the "Great Americans Series". It is a series of stamps and it includes many women. They are definitive stamps meaning that they were part of the regular issue of a country's stamps, available for sale by the post office for an extended period of time and designed to serve the everyday postal needs of the country.

Arguably Mrs Dix is honoured in this way and recognising this in Wikidata is not obvious.

Mrs Dix is not called a psychiatrist. However her insight into the suffering of the "insane" and her work did contribute more to mental health than the many who used that title and only saw people and were of no real benefit to them.

Friday, February 26, 2016

#Wikimedia - time to recover

The crisis at the Wikimedia Foundation has reached a new phase. The crash happened and the car has to go to the body shop for repairs. It is a time of upheaval; what to do next / the interim and how do we mend fences.

It is a crazy time with crazy suggestions. Many of them brutally crash with what we and others expect of us. What to think of paying editors. What to think of it when we have not really sought to expand our editors particular in "other" languages. What to think of adding a "parliament" as if we should trust the people who are chosen. Our parliaments are full of politicians and they only preserve the status quo and special interests.

It is time to recover and at this stage we are all damaged goods. Crucial is to stem the exodus of employees. We need them and honestly, I would love to have many people back. We know them, trust them and if one thing is important it is continuity of everything that was good.

It is time to recover. There is plenty of craziness and this is not the time for big changes. It is first time to triage, to heal. As we right what went wrong, we gain a clue of what room there is for change. We gain a clue of what needs changing.

This is the time to recover, the time for change will come. Insisting on change now will tear at a body that is already weakened. It will alienate more, it will frustrate more. It is time to grieve for what went wrong who we lost, have a rest and then pick up the pieces and see what we are left with.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

#Wikidata - the little things

I love what we do at the Wikimedia Foundation desperately. It makes me sick how things are going. Literally.

The little things make me go on. The people I love, the routine of going to work. When it is about our community, I despair. It is a train wreck going to happen and everybody seems to be going to the first compartment to see the result best.

Wiki-wise it is the little things that keep me going. Adding Anna Wintour to the Anna Wintour costume centre for instance. That I did because Jane cares ..

By caring, adding these little things, I have my illusion that what we do for each other matters. It may improve quality but I do it because it make me feel a bit better.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

#Wikimedia - #innovation

Things are improving when people start publicly thinking on how to move forward, how to do things differently. Our foundation is at a cross roads, how to move on and what will we be like. Yuri Astrakhan wonders if smaller, self forming teams might be an idea to be more nimble with new ideas and projects.

There is this notion that 80% of a project often gets done in 20% of the time. Finishing a project, doing the last 20% is the hard part. When an idea is shown to have merit, is allowed to grow a team around it, when it gains momentum and appreciation within the movement and gets approval to be finished there is a new model that motivates people to be creative.

Creative people are more effective, they get more done. Yes, there are problems with this model. How do you ensure the necessary maintenance, how do you ensure that the big attention projects that have been given priority (in whatever way) in the past keep on track. How do you keep people focused within a running project when something new and sexy comes along.

Managing new ideas has its own challenges; what do you do with your own ideas for instance... I am grateful to Yuri for thinking about ways out of the morass. We need to move on and when the same old old is toxic, it is important to dream, to think, to innovate, to be realistic and move on.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

#Wikimedia - the #blame game

The Wikimedia Foundation is in an unfortunate position. The most depressing part of it is that we all suffer. We are at a stage where the problem seems like a tangled knot, and it may seem that the solution Alexander though of is the likely way forward.

There are many issues, many have been mentioned in places. The main thing however is that the Wikimedia Foundation is us. It is what we stand for. We own the problem and together we are to blame.

I sincerely believe that intentionally everyone wants what they think is good for us all. The problem is very much that we do not agree on what that is. What we have in front of us is the result of past decisions that turned out to have nasty side effects.

One particular decision that bites us is the chosen answer to "What kind of organisation must the Wikimedia Foundation be?". The choice was to be a technical organisation and many people have been hired with that in mind. It changed the culture and it clashed with much of what the WMF stands for. The unintended result is much heartache and a lot of dysfunction.

Another thing that hurts a lot is that people do not really consider what others say. The outward face of Wikipedia became a talking shop with vested interests. It may give us a direction but the unintended consequence is that people hardly listen particularly when other issues are raised. There are so many examples to give, it is painful to do so.

Truly disturbing is that members of the board acknowledge that they collectively are dysfunctional. As all their communication has to be considered for possible implications, the result is communication that is not timely and bland. This is just one consequence of talking heads that over-analyse what has been said and insist on an understanding that is not necessarily what is intended.

We are at a crossroads. A lot of damage has been inflicted, many people are outraged, distraught, depressed. The solution that we end up with will not be optimal. It is stupid to expect this, to demand this. It is stupid because we do not agree on what an optimal solution will be. What we need is a workable solution. The way we are involved, the ambitions we have will not be realized without cooperation with everyone involved.

It is time to put  many favourite hobby horses to pasture. It is time to listen and consider priorities. The most important priority is that we stop talking and start to have a conversation.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

#Wikipedia - Mrs Linehan professor in psychology & the DSM

Mrs Linehan is a professor in psychology at the University of Washington. She is a celebrated scientist; the list of awards on her biography is long and not complete. The point is, she knows what she is talking about and the Wikipedia article on her has one interesting detail.
Linehan was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In March 1961 she was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut where she was an inpatient. Linehan was subjected to electroconvulsive therapy, seclusion, as well as Thorazine and Librium as treatment.[2] She has said that she feels that she actually had borderline personality disorder.[3] In a 2011 interview with the The New York Times, Linehan said that she "does not remember" taking anypsychiatric medication after leaving the Institute of Living when she was 18 years old.[4]
The point is that she was diagnosed with schizophrenia but that she actually had borderline personality disorder. There are several parts to it. Either Mrs Linehan was misdiagnosed, she does not know what she is talking about OR she had a schizorphrenic episode and has borderline personality disorder. This however is impossible according to the DSM, the prevailing methodology in the USA, because the DSM is categorical in its approach. It is either or and not both.

Except when it is both and Mrs Linehan is not alone in this observation. As long as the DSM is used as a standard vocabulary so that scientists can ensure that research is about the same subject, there is no problem. It is a wonderful tool that helps scientists do their work. It is different when it is mistaken for the gospel truth when this level of detail is accepted as truth. Mrs Linehan is just one example showing the error in this.

The DSM has been shown to be in need of change before and it is likely that it will again. As long as it is only a tool for scientists, that is not a problem. It became a problem when insurance companies made it their own and, made inferences that do not hold water. It is just an accident that Mrs Linehan's case is so prominently documented. Typically it is not documented at all because it is an inconvenient truth.

Monday, February 15, 2016

#Wikimedia #search - it #sucks

The Knight Foundation gave a grant to the Wikimedia Foundation to improve search spectacularly. It is well deserved because never mind how much it has already improved, it sucks. Search sucks anyway, care to find all the winners of the Knight Innovation award?

The point of search is that by just crawling the Internet you do not necessarily find what you are looking for and additionally you may not find it in your language. There are many things that are relatively easy to improve but it starts with one premise. We accept that better search is of a paramount importance.

The Knight Foundation gave a grant to improve search. The problem is one of politics. Talking heads in the community insist that they (on behalf of the community?) have to be consulted on such big things. The problem is that this is not necessarily the case. In the final analysis it is the board who decides on such priorities.

Some say that the WMF takes aim at Google when it improves its search. It is used as an argument in this big free for all. It should not matter. The question is a different one, it is more fundamental. What is the WMF about and how does it best achieve results additionally what does it need to continue to serve its users best.

Our aim is to share in the sum of all knowledge and we do not even achieve this for all our available knowledge. It has been mentioned on this blog before, results from Wikidata are not available in a local project. This has a noticeable effect in any and all languages. Many notable American professors have an article in Wikipedia but not in English. A scenario like this is true in any language.

You can find them in Google but why not in our projects? Is improving this functionality aiming at Google or does it make sense? Why not recognise this as a fact and do something about it? Why not recognise that 'paard' has many meanings and disambiguate between them when you search for an illustration. Why accept that Commons is maybe good enough in English only?

I positively hate the power struggles that are going on. They distract from what is what we are about and it is serving the sum of all knowledge. I hope that the damage that is being inflicted on us will not make us all losers.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

#Wikipedia - Peter Breggin, the power of an argument, a source

Mr Breggin is in / has been a rather controversial person in psychiatry. The point he makes is that the use of medicine is vastly overrated. He has been at pain to make this point, he has been court and brought to court over this opinion.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness took him to court because of a remark on Oprah:
"mental health clients should judge their clinicians in terms of their empathy and support; if they failed to show interest in them and tried to prescribe drugs during the first session, he advised such clients to seek assistance elsewhere."
This may be or may have been controversial, but it is certainly not controversial in the Netherlands. The notion that a psychiatrist should be empathic and supportive is essential for quality care that is to be given. The points Mr Breggin makes about psychiatric drugs are seen as mostly valid and, there is enough scientific evidence to support the notion that oversubscription is happening widely and, it has been sufficiently proven that NAMI was/is largely funded by pharmaceutical companies.

The point is that many sources exist that 'prove' a point. At what point can a point be accepted as valid or more precisely when is a point no longer acceptable in Wikipedia? We do agree that drapetomania has been a fabrication right?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

#Wikidata - #diversity connecting relevant people

Mrs Nanette Gartrell is a great example when you want to explain about diversity. She is female, a psychiatrist and according to an old version of the DSM she is crazy ... nowadays, it is mostly accepted for people to be gay.

While enriching the information for Mrs Gartrell, much of the related information is not known in Wikidata. Mrs Garttrell won several awards, it makes sense to know the organisations that conferred them and other award winners are nice to have as well.

Mrs Garttell is especially relevant because of the research that she did. She researched the quality of the upbringing of children in a lesbian family. By and large they are happy families and kids grow up well. It is the kind of message that is important to hear.

As someone like Mrs Gartrell gets well linked in the fabric of Wikidata, chances are that she will be included in all kinds of queries. As she does, more people will learn of the current state of science and provide people with arguments to ponder.

#Wikidata - all notable #Psychiatrists - a query for big data

When you look at all the psychiatrists known to Wikidata, there are currently some 2992 psychiatrists known. When you think about psychiatry, the relevance is in the number of people who have to deal with it.

The tool used is one that does not get that much attention. It takes its time to complete but it gets whatever it is the query says. The tool does its job admirably for several years now. The one redeeming advantage is that it does what 'official query' does not offer. It can be used never mind the size of the results.

Some say that it is unrealistic to ask for this quality of service from 'official query' because "it has not been designed with this in mind". The friendliest thing to say is that this is a mistake. Official Query was supposed to replace WDQ and when it cannot by design, the design if wrong. A better argument would be that Wikidata is one of the biggest public facing resources on the Internet and people are actually using it; at this time it cannot cope. It takes money and lots of money to serve the whole world. Possibly. This approach however is an acceptable argument. It allows for seeking one or more solutions.

One existing solution is the "Toolkit", when you can have your own datastore, you can throw as much hardware at it to get results. You can give the WMF targeted money to have more hardware for you and I or implement existing software that may do the trick. We could explore if federated technology as it exists for Wikipedia could make a difference. What cannot be done is hiding behind an arbitrary choice that was insufficient from the start because official query is to replace what we already have and not take away from it.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

One world is where #Wikimedia is weak

#Wikimania, the annual conference of the Wikimedia Foundation, brings people from all over the world together. It instills some needed cohesion in a community that is from around the world. It brings together hackers, editors, language buffs.

In its infinite wisdom the WMF has decided that Wikimania is to be bi-annual. The notion is that "local" conferences may be held every other year. To be honest, what I fail to understand what this will bring. It is obvious that global cooperation will suffer. The only thing I see is that it may reduce some costs.

One third of only 82 respondents pointed to the unique value of Wikimania. Given the size of the population interviewed I doubt the reliability of the findings. I am not one to readily dismiss what the WMF has to say but in this the WMF fails its mission.

#Wikipedia - Eric Kandel the relevance of his "occupation"

Mr Kandel won the Nobel prize among many other awards. His reputation is safe and it is why he is a good example to talk about what he is about and as importantly what he is not.

Wikipedia has it that he is a "neuropsychiatrist". Neuropsychiatry is a "branch of medicine that deals with mental disorders attributable to diseases of the nervous system". Given what Mr Kandel is known for, it makes sense to call him a "neurospsychologist" because neuropsychology "studies the structure and function of the brain as they relate to specific psychological processes and behaviors."

Mr Kandel may have studied psychoanalysis but the work he is celebrated for did not deal with people, so he did not deal with mental disorders; the Wikipedia text is quite clear about this. By considering Mr Kandel as a neuropsychiatrist, it is implied that his work has a practical application to mental health while at most his work helps explain how memory works.

The work of Mr Kandel is important but it is a fallacy to call it psychiatry when it so obviously is not. It is a fallacy because it takes away from what psychiatry is about.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

#Wikipedia - Shows updates from #Wikidata

Seeing updates go live on a Wikipedia when updates happen on Wikidata; wow! Mr Starobinski is from Switzerland so it is not really surprising when German language and French language awards are awarded.

At first a Q1730045 showed up; it is the "Karl-Jaspers-Preis" it did not have a label so I added one in French and now it shows in black. I noticed dates, so I added them all. <grin> if there is one thing the script could do is sort them by date :) This is a wonderful experience!

Saturday, February 06, 2016

#Drapetomania is in other forms alive and well

A #scientist by the name of Samuel A. Cartwright wrote a paper defining a mental disorder called drapetomania. The suggested treatment was that "they should be punished until they fall into that submissive state which was intended for them to occupy. They have only to be kept in that state, and treated like children to prevent and cure them from running away". The mental disorder described slaves that run away. Drapetomania is no longer believed to be a mental disorder.

In the twenty first century, professor Jonathan Metzl wrote a book called The Protest Psychosis, it describes how schizophrenia was used to define people who had notions about their civil rights. The book describes an era where the DSM-2 was the latest and greatest to define mental health.

It is all too easy to welcome the publication of Mr Metzl as an important work as has been done by leading psychological institutions. Both Mr Cartwright and the DSM-2 have already been shown to be obsolete.

What the aftermath of the DSM-2 and Mr Cartwright prove is that papers on psychiatry cannot be relied on because current approaches to psychiatry are equally problematic. A recent publication (in Dutch) provides many arguments. One of the more relevant arguments is that many of the current studies are not reproducible and what they describe are based on theoretical constructs that are not universally agreed upon.

The book argues that publications about subjects that are fashionable have a better chance of being published over publications that expose methodological weaknesses (Delespaul, Milo, Schalken, Boevink & Os, 2015 p31,32).

Given that there is enough literature to support this point of view, what does it mean for a Wikipedia where sources are a holy grail that is to be ingested without all too much salt? What sources can be relied on and why and how do we recognise official pot quackery?

#Wikipedia: R. Kerry Rowe - #Sources may stink

For whatever reason I stumbled upon the Miroslow Romamowski medal. It is a Canadian medal named after a Polish scientist. When I add people to a medal, I make sure that the medal is at least an award and typically I add the person the award was named after. Searching for Mr Romanowski, a Portuguese article on the award proved to exist as well and it was merged.

The Wikipedia article is well maintained; this is assured by the date when the official website was last retrieved; "Retrieved 22 November 2015" and this source shows that the award has not been conferred after 2012. Mr R. Kerry Rowe however has been awarded the medal in 2015 and this can be sourced to this.

For Mr Rowe there is a German article, It indicates that he won the Legett award, its source is a dead link but hey, there is enough information to find the society that conferred it, and finally a functional source for the award.

This award is in and of itself not that relevant. When you combine the links to articles as can be found in the "Concept cloud" and Reasonator for Mr Rowe, it becomes interesting, Combined they show the known relations for an article, an item. It would be cool when the two could be merged. When a link in a Wikipedia article is known as a Wikidata statement, it would become interesting to make the statement that Mr Rowe gave the Rankine Lecture.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

#Wikipedia - Dorothy E. Smith - #links and #sources

Mrs Smith is recognised as an important scholar. One of her books is considered a classic, she developed two theories, received several awards and there is a Wikipedia article about her in three languages.

Mrs Smith received the Jessie Bernard Award in 1993 and it is why I learned about her. The Wikipedia article mentions two brothers, one is linked the other is not. She was born in Northallerton, There is a link to John Porter but the only relation to Mr Porter is that Mrs Smith won the John Porter Award. The award was given for a book by a red-linked organisation an organisation that bestowed their 'outstanding contribution award' to her as well in 1990.

This outstanding contribution award was given in 2015 to a Monica Boyd. She can be found on the Internet as well, it is easy enough to expand the amount of information around a relevant person like Mrs Smith. Almost every line in her article contains facts that could be mapped in Wikidata. With some effort sources can be added. The only problem is that adding sources for everything is painful; it is just too much work. This is a reality for Wikipedia as well, When Wikipedia and Wikidata align, when its links / statements match, it must be obvious that the likelihood of facts being correct is high, if only because multiple people had a look at most of the facts.

Monday, February 01, 2016

#Wikipedia - The Jessie Bernard Award

At the #Wikimedia Foundation a lot of words are used on the subject of #diversity. So much so that diversity is short for gender diversity. My point is not that having proper attention for women and women causes is not a good thing, it is the exclusion of everything else.

On the subject of gender diversity, an award was named in recognition of Mrs Bernard: the Jessie Bernard award. "It is presented for significant cumulative work done throughout a professional career, and is open to women or men and is not restricted to sociologists."

The Wikipedia article on the award has a substantial number of red links of the unsung heroes of gender diversity. Obviously everyone is invited to fill this in. The quote indicates that being a housewife is a special case of being crazy. If so, what does "mentally ill" mean and how well does Wikipedia cover that subject?