Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wikipedia scanner

Now this is potentially interesting, though oversubscribed at the moment (so there's some downtime):

Wikipedia Scanner -- the brainchild of CalTech computation and neural-systems graduate student Virgil Griffith -- offers users a searchable database that ties millions of anonymous Wikipedia edits to organizations where those edits apparently originated, by cross-referencing the edits with data on who owns the associated block of internet IP addresses.
So I went to the scanner to try a couple of searches. A computer called gateway-202.energis.gsi.gov.uk is interesting, being a candidate for [the|a] gateway for the UK Cabinet Office. It resolves as follows:
~$ dig gateway-202.energis.gsi.gov.uk

; <<>> DiG 9.3.4 <<>> gateway-202.energis.gsi.gov.uk
;; global options: printcmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 12792
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0

;gateway-202.energis.gsi.gov.uk. IN A

gateway-202.energis.gsi.gov.uk. 3600 IN A

;; Query time: 41 msec
;; SERVER: x.x.x.x
;; WHEN: Tue Aug 14 18:45:47 2007
;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 64
And a search for this at the wikiscanner gives 5134 edits. I've browsed a few of them.

In the discussion pages for the emtry about Jean Charles de Menezes we get the following:
The policy of shooting at the head instead of the body has nothing to do with the risk of setting off explosives. Such ideas have been invented by armchair experts and the usual source of rubbish found on this site: British journalists. You cannot detonate an explosive device by firing a bullet into it, and there is only a theoretical possibility that a shot hitting the detonation mechanism will detonate the main charge. The policy of aiming at the head has to do with rendering the individual incapable of acting further: i.e. pulling a trigger, pressing a button, dialling a phone etc in order to detonate a device. 12:39, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

Fortunately for us, you are not shaping armed police policies. The explosives (acetone peroxide) used by the bombers in London is more volatile than regular high explosive and can be detonated by rounds from a 9mm. There was a unit which did research on this with different types of explosive and different types of bullets. Please see the recent BBC articles on this subject [4]. --Tom1234 15:52, 27 July 2005 (UTC)

Yes of course, I am sorry. If the BBC says so it must be right. We should rename this site www.bbc.com. 18:00, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

For the entry covering Totnes, the changes were fun. This:
The town attracts people with [[alternative]] beliefs and has one of the largest [[New Age]] communities in a small British town.
Became this:
The town attracts people with [[alternative]] beliefs and inflated opinions of themselves and has one of the largest communities of [[New Age]] hypocrites in the whole of the United Kingdom.
Perhaps more interestingly, on the subject of the IRA, this:
At the beginning of [[February 2005]], the IRA declared that it was withdrawing from the disarmament process.
Became this:
At the beginning of [[February 2005]], the IRA declared that it was withdrawing from the disarmament process, but in [[July 2005]] it declared thast its campaign of violence was over, and that transparent mechanisms would be used, under the de Chastelain process, to satisfy the Ulster communities that it was disarming totally
This particular edit dates from July 28th 2005, immediately after the events it describes but it's still interesting to see the UK Cabinet Office, perhaps, helping out with the IRA's public relations.

Also in July 2005, an edit with the associated comment "This is fair and accurate comment - and no different to many other entries elsewhere on this site" was added to the entry for Tony Benn. The following was inserted:
To many, Benn is an obsolete, anachronistic and somewhat vain and egotistical individual, with an overly romantic and rose-tinted view of certain things of the past, completely detached from modern reality and the realities of human nature, and whose misguided [[Socialist]] politics died when the [[Berlin Wall]] came down. He is often accused of opportunistically jumping on the bandwagons of dissent and anti-government causes in order to attack "the Establishment", even though - as a former Minister of the Crown and member of the ruling political party - he himself is a long-time member of "the Establishment".
I hope nobody from the diplomatic corps was responsible for altering the entry about the Showa Period from this:
{{History of Japan}} The '''Shōwa period''' (昭和時代, lit.: enlightened peace period) was the time in [[History of Japan|Japanese history]] when Emperor [[Hirohito]] reigned over the country, from [[December 25]], [[1926]] to [[January 7]], [[1989]]. It was the longest reign of all [[Japanese emperor]]s.
To this:
{{History of Japan}} The '''Shōwa period''' (昭和時代) ironically means "enlightened peace" period) was the time in [[History of Japan|Japanese history]] when cowardly war criminal [[Hirohito]] reigned over the country, from [[December 25]], [[1926]] to [[January 7]], [[1989]]. It was the longest reign of all [[Japanese emperor]]s.
Presumable the same person made an addition to the entry on War Crime, as follows:
Many people around the world feel taht the [[Emperor]] [[Hirohito]] of Japan should have joined the ranks of this parade of villains.
One conscientious soul undid a piece of vandalism in the entry for the Jesus Army, reverting the word "penis" to its original, "Jesus".

Some strong PR is inserted into the entry for the Central Office of Information. This:
The Strategic Consultancy unit of COI offers advice across a range of strategic marketing and communications disciplines, providing solutions for clients across Government.
Becomes this:
The Strategic Consultancy unit of COI provides creative, innovative, practical and effective marketing strategies and solutions for public sector clients.

Services include communications and marketing consultancy, internal communications strategy and culture change, stakeholder communications, strategic development and brand development.
Here's an interesting aside from the Coast to Coast Walk entry. This:
In 2004 Ordnance Survey decided to cease publishing dedicated maps of the route as uneconomic suggesting its popularity is on the wane.
Became this:
In 2004 Ordnance Survey decided to cease publishing dedicated maps of the route as uneconomic - this could mean that the maps always were uneconomic (and their publication cannot be sustained in the modern target-driven UK civil service), or that walkers are increasingly (and unwisely) relying exclusively on guide books rather than real maps, or that the popularity of the walk is on the wane (not supported by the fact that there are now TWO companies making a living from booking accommodation for CtoC walkers and carrying their excess luggage between overnight stops).
Entries can be banal: from the entry for Chav, we get:
Seems that this article has missed one of the great identifiers of being a Chav - certainly in the South East of England. Not every Chav has a dog, but where they do, it is ALWAYS a Staffy.
And entries can be more thought provoking. Who, from the Cabinet Office intranet, would add this to the entry for Michael Stone?
* [http://www.ismichaelstoneguilty.org/ Website dedicated to showing that Stone was wrongly convicted]

But the best may be yet to come. More soon...


Anonymous said...

The Government Secure Intranet gateways (there are several of them, for load balancing reasons) are akin to a dedicated Internet Service Provider for most of the Central Government Departments (with some exceptions like the Ministry of Defence) and not especially the Cabinet Office.

The Cabinet Office supervises the contracts for the "e-government" IT infrastructure, hence the IP address block registration.

The people doing the Wikipedia edits are more likely to be bored Department for Work and Pensions clerks, than high flying Sir Humphrey Applebys or even NuLabour political commissar Special Advisers or spin doctors.

Anonymous said...

Oops! - that was not intended to be "anonymous" posting

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