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October 12, 2015

Wikinews interviews painter Pricasso on his art and freedom of expression

Wikinews interviews painter Pricasso on his art and freedom of expression

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Wikinews interviewed Australian painter Pricasso on his unique artwork created using his penis, and how his art relates to freedom of expression and issues of censorship. He is to be featured at the upcoming adult entertainment event Sexpo Australia in Melbourne this November 5 to November 8.

File photo of Pricasso, 2012.
Image: Eva Rinaldi.

Background

Pricasso painting a portrait in Australia at Sexpo (2012)
Image: Eva Rinaldi.

Pricasso is the stage name of Australian painter Tim Patch, in a nod to the artist Picasso while using the word prick. Pricasso has been painting portraits using his penis for more than ten years.

Based in Australia, Pricasso paints his artwork using his buttocks and scrotum in addition to his penis. According to 640 Toronto News, Pricasso markets himself as “The World’s Greatest Penile Artist”.

Cquote1.svg I consider my work as satire just like late night TV, something that gives light relief to a serious subject. Cquote2.svg

Pricasso

He is able to create 20 paintings in one day. Pricasso also practices other styles besides portraits, including landscape painting and nudes. Typically his portraits take him not more than 15 minutes to paint. He told Coconuts TV he chose to specialize in creating artwork in this manner because he felt it was a niche market.

His fanbase is international; Pricasso has journeyed to locations including the United States, Holland, Germany, Brazil, Mexico and China to paint portraits for people. Though he is willing to travel to display his talent, Pricasso told In Touch Weekly most of his income is Internet-based.

Wikinews interviewed Pricasso about his artwork and asked for his thoughts on topics of censorship and freedom of expression. We discussed what are considered appropriate forms of parody and satire of public figures — protected in the United States following the Supreme Court case Hustler Magazine v. Falwell.

The interview touched upon a 2013 conflict which arose on our sister site for images and media, Wikimedia Commons, when an image of a portrait of Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales painted by Pricasso was uploaded to the site. Wales called it “harassment” and a succession of deletion discussions ensued. We asked Pricasso about this as well as the different reaction from former-Mayor of Cape Town Helen Zille, who called his painting of her part of a “free society” where artists “exercise their freedom in unusual ways.”

Interview

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Pricasso, thanks for agreeing to do this interview with Wikinews.

Pricasso: Thanks for doing this, great questions.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How long have you been painting in this particular fashion?

Pricasso: I first tried it over 10 years ago and realised it would be possible with practice to get as good with it but in a slightly more impressionistic style than I could with a brush, and I really liked the results, of course at first I had to work out the paint formula and what to paint on which was done by trial and error — and then finding somewhere to practice, which was a problem until I was invited to become a member of a Bondage club in Brisbane, my first patron. There I realised that there were so many people with totally different views on what is acceptable in society, and were always protesting over most censorship issues.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How long can you paint with your penis at one time before it gets too tiring?

Pricasso: At most Sexpo’s and Adult Expos I paint for 13 hours a day in half slots so I paint 20 plus paintings a day. When I am painting I have to concentrate hard and go into a meditative state; I don’t notice much going on around me until I have finished.

Example of Pricasso applying paint before creating a piece of artwork.
Image: Pricasso.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Other than your penis, what other parts of your body do you use in the painting process?

Pricasso: I quickly worked out that I could speed it up by using my testicles and butt cheeks to cover large areas in no time at all, but only recently do I paint the edges using my butt-crack, I call it the credit card swipe!

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How did you come up with the name Pricasso?

Pricasso: That was the heading they christened me with in the Picture Magazine interview in 2006. I realised it was Gold and took out the website and trademark.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What’s the most positive reaction you’ve had to one of your paintings?

Pricasso: It is always satisfying to get applause when a painting is finished; at most adult shows this happened all the time; but I do like painting disabled people. I have painted several people with severe cerebral palsy and they are over the moon with the result; this gives me the most pleasure, as I do realise that they are still sexually active people and everyone should realise this.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Have any of your paintings been featured in a gallery somewhere?

Pricasso: I have entered the Bald Archy Exhibition in Australia every year and sold a few. Also at an exhibition of politicians in Australia, and last November I went to Miami for the Art undressed exhibition and also painted 15 minute portraits there which was fun.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Do you consider it a form of freedom of expression to create your artwork in the way you do with your penis?

Pricasso: When I first thought of the idea I was really thinking I could get invited to a few parties as the entertainment which I do regularly, but now I am getting a good style about my work and want to take it to the next level and be accepted as an innovator.

Cquote1.svg A free society throws up these kinds of people, who exercise their freedom in unusual ways. Cquote2.svg

—Cape Town former-Mayor Helen Zille

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png In 2008, prior to a Sexpo event in South Africa, you uploaded a video to the Internet of yourself painting a portrait of then-Mayor of Cape Town Helen Zille. Why did you decide to do this?

Pricasso: No particular reason on my behalf, it was the organisers of the Sexpo who got me to paint it mainly for publicity. But also to have a portrait on my stand, who people in Cape Town would relate to as I now know she is very popular and has a great sense of humour.

Cape Town former-Mayor Helen Zille
Image: Helen Zille, Democratic Alliance, South Africa.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Mayor of Cape Town Helen Zille commented of your portrait painting of her: “This is a free country. A free society throws up these kinds of people, who exercise their freedom in unusual ways. And if this is how he wants to do it, I must accept his constitutional right to do so.” — what are your thoughts on her reaction?

Pricasso: Sounds a bit formal but that is how politicians usually talk, guarded and a totally correct response, the trouble is that if they spoke from the heart it might come back to bite them one day, but I did talk to one of her aides privately and she said they were all really impressed and loved the concept, I really should have offered to paint her too but I was probably flat out all day — I always am at the South African shows.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Mayor Zille further commented about the quality of your painting of her: “[Pricasso] has achieved a good likeness and I can’t imagine how he painted it without brushes or conventional equipment.” — what do you think of this assessment?

Pricasso: Most people are impressed when they see it done, skeptical at first but after the initial shock they all usually stop to watch until I finish that particular painting, usually they take about 15 minutes.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png If you could speak to Mayor Zille, what would you say to her about her reaction to your painting of her?

Pricasso: I would say I was impressed with her response, mostly girls are much more impressed than guys only a minority of guys I might add, lots of them love it and me too!! But in general she gave a responsible and educated reply and was not at all offended by the experience.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png In 2011, one member of the Gold Coast Sculptors’ Society quit in protest due to your participation in the ‘Exotic Erotic’ show — how do you feel when people react to your artwork in this way?

Pricasso: I guess I could say; This is a free country. A free society throws up these kinds of people, who exercise their dissaproval in various ways. And if this is how she wants to protest, I must accept her constitutional right to do so. There was that politically correct enough? Or maybe the silly old B***ch — but her reaction did get heaps of publicity for the show and they had record numbers coming through the doors so there was a silver lining. But obviously it is a bit confronting and not everyone’s cup of tea but if they could just see it before they get on their high horse they might have a different point of view.

The painting of Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, the uploading of which Wales called “harassment”. 2013.
Image: Pricasso.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png You painted a portrait of Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales in 2013; a picture and a video file of the making of this painting were uploaded to Wikipedia’s sister site for images and media, Wikimedia Commons. Shortly thereafter, the files were nominated for deletion and a deletion discussion ensued — what are your thoughts on this discussion?

Pricasso: I did not think Wikipedia censored anything as on Jimmy Wales’ Twitter account his banner heading is: “Wikia guy. Free speech activist, entrepreneur.” Either this is misleading in the very least or blatantly untrue.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png The deletion discussion at Wikimedia Commons resulted in keeping the photograph of your portrait of Jimmy Wales, but deleting the video of your making-of-the-portrait — do you consider a video of your portrait painting to be offensive?

Pricasso: Not in the least; it’s pure performance art.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png During the deletion discussion, Jimmy Wales commented “I encourage people to go to commons and work to explain to the community there some of the concepts behind Hostile environment sexual harrassment. I encourage everyone to seriously consider whether it is appropriate behavior to upload a clearly non-notable film of someone using his penis to paint a picture of a Wikipedia volunteer. It is harassment, it is trolling, and I am deeply disappointed to have to point this out to some people.” What do you think of his response to your artwork? Do you feel your paintings constitute harassment?

Pricasso: Harassment is when one continually annoys someone, over and over again; I only painted the one painting of him and it to my mind was not offensive, I consider my work as satire just like late night TV, something that gives light relief to a serious subject. There are many examples of political cartoon images on Wikipedia, so why are they still up there or is it just the things Jimmy Wales doesn’t like get taken down? By the way anyone who has not seen the offending Video can view it on Vimeo under Pricasso: http://vimeo.com/user10315938/review/68837137/893b31ca54

I paint about 1000 portraits a year and get paid by the sitters or a close friend of them to do so. I had a request to paint a portrait, to do [this] portrait of Jimmy Wales with a video of me painting, by Russavia (who is an editor at Wikipedia), something I do all the time and I have great feedback as to how funny the videos are; I had no idea who Jimmy Wales was at the time of the request, but painted him only once so it can’t be called Harassment. Is he just using his position of power to cut and censor … It took me a lot of effort and time to put this together so I was pretty upset. And would really like it to be republished next to the portrait as originally it was before Mr Wales had it removed.

[Editor’s note: Accusations of harassment focused on the uploader, rather than the artist; the successive heated discussions, over about six months, that ultimately led to the video’s deletion from Commons may be read here. Jimmy Wales expressed his position elsewhere and did not directly participate in the discussions themselves.]

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How do you compare the reactions by Mayor of Cape Town Helen Zille who said your portrait painting of her was a product of a “free society” and a reflection of how people “exercise their freedom” with the comment by Jimmy Wales calling the publication of your artwork “harassment” ? Which of these individuals do you feel is correct, Mayor Zille or Wales, and why?

Pricasso: I think Helen got it. They in South Africa are struggling with change from being suppressed to one of freedom as she said “a free society”. Jimmy Wales on the other hand although promoting himself as The Free Speech Guy is censoring things he does not agree with and calling it Harassment, not a good look Jimmy!!

I did put the video of Helen Zille being painted on YouTube. It was there for a few months but they too delete my work quite regularly so it’s probably long gone.

She is an experienced politician and would weigh up the fors and against before she acted, obviously the fors had it.

Mr. Wales on the other hand has probably not seen a lot of my work; if he had he would know I do it for fun and not really to be taken too seriously, it’s a comedy performance, but he could not see the unique talent of someone who has cornered the world market of penis portraits painting with no imitators for the past 10 years, so before too many people could have a small chuckle at his expense he had it deleted, I’m sure there would be many others who would like to remove things on Wikipedia but don’t have the muscle to do so.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Have you experienced censorship or attempts by others to limit your freedom of expression? How so, and what was your reaction?

Pricasso: As I said before YouTube is always deleting my videos when someone complains, sometimes even when there is no genitals visible. Once one was taken down because the guy I was painting had the word (fuck) on his tee shirt; I mean how many films have this word in the dialogue. Also in Macau at the adult show, the people who make the rules make me perform inside an enclosed area, and people are wary of coming in through the door so is a bit slow there; and the guys that run the show are so polite and passionate trying to change China slowly, making it more open, that I keep on returning year after year.

Signed painting of a French Bulldog, by Pricasso. 2013.
Image: Pricasso.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Do you consider some of your art pieces to be forms of parody or satire of famous people?

Pricasso: Oh yes I love creating something topical and painting a spoof on famous people, and painting with a penis really lends itself to this form of art, but I just painted a normal portrait of Jimmy Wales, as I said before I had no idea who he was before I googled him. And found this heading [on] his Twitter account (seems to me he has a few double standards) “Jimmy Wales
 Verified account
‪ @jimmy_wales You know, the ‪@Wikipedia and ‪@Wikia guy. Free speech activist, entrepreneur.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Are you familiar with the U.S. Supreme Court case, Hustler Magazine v. Falwell ? How do you feel after reading about the unanimous decision protecting parody as a form of freedom of speech in that case?

Pricasso: Thanks for sharing that with me, I had no idea about this case and it’s good to know that freedom of speech is alive and well in America. Actually I was a bit taken aback by the parody and slightly offended that I have been put in the same category, my painting is pure performance art and I don’t go out of my way to offend. And I am totally against censorship. It’s a shame the same is not true about Wikipedia and Mr. Wales.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Pricasso, thanks again for doing this interview with Wikinews, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Pricasso: Not at the moment. I’m exhausted! Thanks.



Related news

Sister links

  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Pricasso
  • Commons-logo.svg Pricasso
  • Wikiquote-logo.svg Pricasso
  • Wiktionary-logo.svg Pricasso

Sources

Wikinews
This article is a featured article. It is considered one of the best works of the Wikinews community. See Wikinews:Featured articles for more information.
Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

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March 20, 2015

Supreme Court of Sweden agrees to try Bildkonst Upphovsrätt i Sverige versus Wikimedia Sverige

Supreme Court of Sweden agrees to try Bildkonst Upphovsrätt i Sverige versus Wikimedia Sverige

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Crime and law
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Friday, March 20, 2015

The highest court in Sweden, the Supreme Court, agreed on Monday to try the case “Ö 849-15” between Bildkonst Upphovsrätt i Sverige (BUS, Visual Arts Copyright Society in Sweden) and Wikimedia Sverige (Wikimedia Sweden). The jurisprudence could result in Freedom of Panorama being effectively overturned in Sweden, requiring websites such as Wikimedia Commons, which is maintained by the Wikimedia Foundation, to delete thousands of images.

Not long after Wikimedia Sverige created the website offentligkonst.se to publish images and metadata about artworks placed in public spaces in Sweden, BUS, a pro-copyright lobby, advocated that it constituted infringement on the artists’ copyright. The current lawsuit opposes the interpretation of Wikimedia — that artwork permanently installed in public space should be subject to the Freedom of Panorama exception that is in effect in Sweden — to that of BUS — that is creation (avbilda) of images and videos of an artwork in a public space is allowed, their distribution (återge) remains prohibited.

Anna Troberg, an author and former leader of the Swedish Pirate Party which advocates copyright reform, commented on her blog, “In a time when everyone has a high-grade camera in their phone, it is more than a little naive to think one can place one’s work in public space without it being photographed and posted online.”((sv))

Images over which BUS are suing Wikimedia Sverige



Sources

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December 24, 2014

Wikinews 2014: An \’Original reporting\’ year in review

Wikinews 2014: An ‘Original reporting’ year in review

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014 With the English-language Wikinews continuing to increase the amount of original content published, we take a look back at some of the eighty-plus original reports from our contributors during 2014.

January

18th: UK media apparently conflict with Scots law in Mikaeel Kular case

Mainstream press risked contempt of court charges in publishing a suspect’s name.
Image: The Guardian.

Media organisations in the United Kingdom focused on Edinburgh early in the year, following the disappearance of three-year-old Mikaeel Kular. As police found a body Wikinews found evidence suggesting media had been caught out by Scottish contempt of court law.

The Contempt of Court Act 1981 is designed to prevent prejudicial material going in front of juries before trial. Although UK-wide legislation, the law is interpreted more strictly north of the border than in England and Wales. Wikinews subsequently received correspondence from Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill in which he expressed confidence in the court system to handle the issue. Legal experts confirmed to Wikinews the potential difficulties in which the media had placed themselves.

21st: Cold as ice: Wikinews interviews Marymegan Daly on unusual new sea anemone

In late 2010 a geological expedition to Antarctica drilled through the Ross Ice Shelf so they could send an ROV under it. What they found was unexpected: Sea anemones. In their thousands they were doing what no other species of sea anemone is known to do — they were living in the ice itself.

Opening of University of Southern Indiana’s Andy Warhol Polaroids and screen prints exhibit.
Video: Miharris & Acphillips.

Marymegan Daly of Ohio State University confirmed the animals were a new species. Named Edwardsiella andrillae after the drilling project that found it, the anemone was described in a PLOS ONE paper last December. Daly gave Wikinews an exclusive insight on how research into these mysterious creatures is developing.

28th: Warhol’s photo legacy spread by university exhibits

January marked the opening night of an Andy Warhol exhibit at the University of Southern Indiana. USI’s art gallery, like 189 other educational galleries and museums around the country, is a recipient of a major Warhol donor program.

The program is cultivating new interest in Warhol’s photographic legacy. Student Wikinews reporters attended the opening and spoke to donors, exhibit organizers, and patrons.

February

A special Wikinews video report on the parliament visit.
Video: Brian McNeil.

11th: Wiki loves the European Parliament in Strasbourg

Wikimedia-logo.svg This section mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

In February fifty volunteers, from nine countries covering nineteen languages, spent four days at the European Parliament buildings in Strasbourg photographing and filming members of the parliament (MEPs). This being an effort to significantly increase the audio-visual content available in Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation projects.

Over 1,000 new, high-quality, photographs were taken and uploaded for use on Wikimedia projects during the visit. Once photographed, MEPs were encouraged to make video introductions in languages they were comfortable speaking in. In excess of 200 video clips of MEPs introducing themselves were captured; this providing freely-reusable audio and video records available via Wikimedia Commons.

March

5th: Wikinews interviews specialists on Russian intervention in Ukraine

March saw Russian troops enter Crimea, a territory now disputed between Russia and Ukraine in what has become one of the more prominent and enduring stories of the year. Wikinews interviewed five experts on Russian foreign policy and international law at the start of the conflict.

16th: Glasgow-Oban and Mallaig train diverted onto wrong track in points mixup

A Wikinews reporter found himself at the centre of a rail mishap when a ScotRail train travelling from Glasgow to the towns of Oban and Mallaig in Scotland accidentally diverted onto the wrong track. Some passengers initially thought the train had derailed when it swerved and braked hard at Ardlui. Points had to be inspected for damage before the train could continue.

April

Dr Roth gave an overview of the Sumatran rhino project at USI less than a week after Suci’s death.
Video: Rfshipman1.

4th: Death of captive rhino halts propagation efforts in US

After the death of the Cincinnati Zoo’s female Sumatran rhinoceros, Dr. Terri Roth, the director of the zoo’s research facility specializing in propagation, told Wikinews her organization remained committed to the Sumatran rhinos, an animal that is currently listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as critically endangered. The only other Sumatran rhino in the States is male and their native Indonesia has indicated no more will be sent to the US.

Roth told Wikinews the species was “going to be a tough one to save.” With only 100 left she outlined what she saw the future as holding for those efforts.

8th: Western Australian school performance undisrupted by WBC

Wikinews was able to verify the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) failed to follow through on threats to picket a Western Australian high school’s performance of The Laramie Project. Margaret River Senior High School was able to perform the play based on the 1998 beating and death of gay student Matthew Shepard to a sold-out audience without disruption.

The WBC twice threatened to picket and even posted a photo of a ‘protestor’ on Twitter, which turned out to be a student performing in the show. The school told Wikinews the WBC did not appear at any time.

10th: Deaths of Adrianne Wadewitz and Cindy Ashley-Nelson

Video of Wadewitz discussing Wikipedia’s impact.
Image: Vgrigas.

Wikimedia-logo.svg This section mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

News broke on the morning of April 10 that Wikipedian activist Adrianne Wadewitz had died whilst rock climbing.

Wadewitz was well known in the Wikimedia community for her activism drawing attention to the lack of female contributors on Wikipedia. She was also very involved in the Wiki Education Foundation, serving as a member of its board of directors. Wadewitz was one of the most high-profile women highlighting the under-representation of women amongst contributors to Wikipedia.

The same day Cynthia Ashley-Nelson died whilst attending a Wikimedia Conference in Berlin, Germany.

As as active member of the Wikimedia movement, she was named vice-chair of Wikimedia’s Affiliations Committee the day prior to her death, having only having joined the Committee earlier in the year. The day prior, she spent a lot of time talking to a number of the event’s attendees and spent time with several members of the Affiliations Committee. She too counted the Wikimedian gender gap amongst her fields of interest.

Glasgow’s 420 event, from the far side of the Clyde.
Image: Iain Macdonald.

22nd: Glasgow cannabis enthusiasts celebrate ‘green’ on city green

Coinciding with Easter Sunday, Glasgow Cannabis Social Club’s annual 420 event was held on Glasgow Green, under sunny blue skies, and overlooking the river Clyde. Despite the city’s council attempting to revoke permission for the gathering at the last minute, police were happy for it to go-ahead with approximately a dozen officers attending. Two Wikinews reporters travelled to Glasgow to cover and photograph the event.

May

Video from the anti-UKIP protest on Friday, May 9, 2014.
Video: Brian McNeil.

10th: 300 protesters greet Farage’s return to Edinburgh

Roughly 300 protesters turned up for the May return of Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, to Edinburgh after last year’s disastrous attempt at a press conference in a pub at the foot of The Canongate. Unseen by protesters or public, Farage is believed to have left the venue around 7:30pm.

Farage’s last visit saw protesters leaving him barracked in the bar by police, with several taxis refusing to take the party leader and Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for South East England to the airport. Wikinews was on hand for this year’s return, photographing protestors and watching the event unfold.

16th: Small protest seeking justice for victims of Franco held in Madrid

On Fiestas de San Isidro Labrador in Madrid, Spain, a small protest demanding justice for victims of the Franco regime was held in Puerta del Sol for an hour. The protest started with speakers on a megaphone, and was followed by a march around the plaza several times with the leaders holding a large banner, all while police watched on. Wikinews was on the scene and photographed the protest from start to finish.

18th: Anti-budget protest descends on Brisbane Australia

An anti-budget protest descended on Brisbane, Australia in response to the previous week’s federal budget. Among the speakers at the pre-march rally were Australian Labor Party senator Claire Moore and former Australian Democrats senator — and current Queensland Greens convenor — Andrew Bartlett. Wikinews was at the scene photographing and videoing the protest.

August

Tourists passing sign advertising Edinburgh’s Auld Reekie Tours (Fringe venue 129).
Image: Brian McNeil.

27th: Wikinews wanders the Referendum-year Edinburgh Festival Fringe

With many venues reporting sell-out shows, the 68th year of the Edinburgh Festival attracted visitors from around the globe. Wikinews‘ Brian McNeil roamed the city for the four weeks of the event, capturing the colour, spectacle, and comedy, in photos.

October

23rd: Wikinews interviews Kristian Hanson, producer-director of indie horror film ‘Sledge’

As Halloween approached, Wikinews interviewed Kristian Hanson, producer-director of independent slasher film Sledge. The film has been a recent source of discussion in horror fan circles, primarily due to its production budget of only US$800.

November

A ‘Scottish-Anonymous’ banner.
Image: Brian McNeil.

7th: Edinburgh’s ‘Million Mask March’ flies distinctly Scottish colours

Anonymous protesters gathering at Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Amongst other Guy Fawkes Night partying, the now-regular march to the Scottish Parliament by Anonymous saw significantly higher attendance at this year’s event. With Catalan flags and pro-Independence Saltires flying, activist numbers had clearly been swelled by the referendum result. Scottish voters had rejected independence in September.

Our reporter in Edinburgh was once again on-the-scene to photograph the event.

Wikinews on sport

Wikinews attended a large number of sporting events this year. Several reporters were present at the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, successfully producing ten exclusive articles. Mere days before the games began, Wikinews noted rail links remaining open between Russia and Ukraine; although tensions between the countries over the disputed territory of Crimea continued to escalate.

Paralympic flag being raised during opening ceremony.
Image: Laura Hale.

Early-on in the year, Wikinewsie Laura Hale began her Paralympics preparation by interviewing Tina McKenzie, a former member of the Australia women’s national wheelchair basketball team, known as the Gliders. McKenzie, a silver and bronze Paralympic medalist in wheelchair basketball, retired from the game after the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London. Wikinews caught up with her in a cafe in the leafy Melbourne suburb of Preston for an extensive interview.

At the Paralympics, with the Russia-Ukraine border still open, opening ceremony preparations were soon underway. Wikinews was at a press conference by International Paralympic Committee President Sir Philip Craven in which he insisted the games should not be politicised amongst talk of boycotts. The Ukrainian delegation ultimately decided not to boycott the Games.

Celebrating victory in Sunshine Coast Rugby Union.
Image: Patrick Gillett.

Once the opening ceremony concluded the Games got started. First up for Wikinews was sledge hockey, with Wikinews attending the narrow Norwegian defeat of the Czech Republic, Canada’s comprehensive defeat of Sweden, and the US victory over Italy. Wikinews also witnessed Ukrainian Lyudmyla Pavlenko claim gold in the women’s 12km sitting skiing race and an action-packed day of wheelchair curling.

Also attended was the 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship. Our reporter caught up with the event on day five and watched Germany, the Netherlands, Canada and the US reach the semi-finals. Germany and Canada then went through to the closely-contested final which was won by Canada. Wikinews conducted an extensive interview with Australian coach Tom Kyle during the competition.

The Sunshine Coast Rugby Union’s 2014 season produced yet more sporting drama, with Wikinews there throughout. Eighteen articles resulted, with exclusive photo and video contributions.



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December 16, 2014

Wikinews interviews Asaf Bartov, Head of Wikimedia Grants Program and Global South Partnerships

Wikinews interviews Asaf Bartov, Head of Wikimedia Grants Program and Global South Partnerships

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Wikimedia Foundation

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Buenos Aires, ArgentinaWikinews interviewed the Wikimedia Foundation‘s Asaf Bartov, the Head of Wikimedia Grants Program and Global South Partnerships, at the Fourth Ibercoop — Ibero-American Wikimedia Summit; where, hosted by Wikimedia Argentina, a cooperative group of wiki contributors and supporters from Spain, Portugal, and Latin America met to foster collaboration and experience sharing related to the Wikimedia Foundation movement in these countries. The Wikimedia Foundation is a US non-profit and charitable organization, that encourage Wikipedia readers to become contributors and editors of the Internet encyclopedia that ranks in the top-ten most-visited websites worldwide,

Asaf Bartov
Image: Guillaume Paumier.

The attendees to Iberoconf 2014
Image: Iván.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Besides your assistance as a representative of the Wikimedia Foundation, in what other ways does the Foundation support Iberoconf?

Asaf Bartov: So, the Wikimedia Foundation supports Iberoconf because we see value in having Wikimedians with a shared culture, mostly shared language, get together and be able to share experiences and form collaborative plans in their own language. This is something very unique to Iberoconf in terms of the size. There are very few groups other than the Ibero-American group that share a language and ability to communicate in that way. That’s why we support it. The ways we support it is, well, we fund it, we provide the funding for having this meeting, the travel, […] etcetera, and we support it by being here, by taking the time to attend the conference and be available to have conversations, both group conversations and one-on-one conversations with the delegates, many of whom do not have other opportunities to speak to us face-to-face. So this is the opportunity. Even though we live in the 21st century, the world is digital and technological, and theoretically we could do a lot of communication on video-calls, etc., and we can, the truth of the matter is that a lot of people feel distant from the Foundation, hesitant to approach, even though we are very welcoming and friendly I hope, a lot of people need to see us and talk to us, and have dinner with us, before they feel comfortable approaching us with issues and problems and things, and so there is value just in the social aspect which is being here, and being accessible, and being human. But in addition to that, we are here to also share our knowledge, our expertise, our suggestions, in the more formal part of the program. This particular year I am here with two colleagues of mine. […] Both of them also speak Spanish so they can contribute more freely and have delivered presentations on their topics of expertise. This is support that Iberocoop gets and all other Wikimedians can get. So I think it’s a valuable opportunity.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Which positive aspects of Wikimedia Argentina do you value at this Iberoconf?

Asaf Bartov: First of all, they have done a great job organizing the event. Everything is running smoothly as far as I can tell. The venue is really good. The program is running according to schedule more or less. So that’s good; and they did this in a fairly short schedule after there was some uncertainty about who would host the conference. So that was good. More generally, I really appreciate their successful transition with the new Executive Director, who has been able to assume all of the responsibilities, including, crucially, their submission to the FDC [Funds Dissemination Committee] process like their proposal which was good as we have just learned this weekend when the FDC published its recommendations which are granting Wikimedia Argentina practically the budget that they requested. Which is a very strong positive signal from the FDC that Wikimedia Argentina is on the right track, its programmatic approach is good and its planning is solid. This is all very high praise, this is all hard to achieve; it’s is not as easy as it seems. Most specifically, I would say Wikimedia Argentina has some interesting partnerships, these educational partnerships that we have heard about yesterday are promising. I like that they are working… they are not just doing, you know, the Wikipedia education program — going to classrooms, having students write articles — but they are collaborating with other external non-Wikimedia organizations towards free culture and free knowledge. That is a very powerful mechanism for growth of impact. So that they are not bound only by the volunteers you have but they also leverage the external part.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png I am from Costa Rica, and Costa Rica is the smallest of the groups represented during this Iberoconf. What should Costa Rica learn from Iberocoop to reach the same degrees of success that have reached the rest of the chapters?

Asaf Bartov: That’s a good question. I would say, if I were in your shoes, one interesting question I would ask of everyone here is, when did you feel, what do you feel was the inflection point, the turning point, in the growth of the community in your country — like, was there an event, or was there a — like, not necessarily even a Wikimedia event, like maybe it was, you know, the National Elections of 2008 — was there something that you feel triggered a lot of growth, was there a moment where you feel, yeah there was all of the history up to that point, and then there was growth. It would be interesting to learn from all our colleagues here what that moment was for them, if they can think of one, and then see if some of those stories may be relevant for Costa Rica. Maybe there is something you can do, maybe something you can think about. Other than that, there’s just the general solutions for all in our movement: trying to have regular meet-ups, trying to collaborate with allies groups like free software groups. These are more generally solutions, but specifically to learn from Iberocoop I would ask people to think about their early stages and see if they can offer you some advice.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png The Wikimedia Foundation funded the assistance in Iberoconf of two persons per group. Is it possible in the future for the Foundation to fund the assistance of more than just two?

Asaf Bartov: The answer is, maybe. [chuckles] The reason we stick to two is to keep to the total size of the event manageable. Not just in terms of how much it costs, although that’s also a consideration, but also in terms of keeping the sessions effective. Think about the session we’ve just had […] — that was a complex conversation to have with no preparation, this wasn’t discussed for a lot of weeks in advance or something, and even the size we already have now was too big; we were broken into groups, to come out with something and then try and mash it together, which was an effective way to do it. But that shows you that very large groups is not very effective for discussion and so the balance between not having just a single point of view from each country represented and between having just an unmanageable two-hundred-people conference — because that becomes like a happening, like Wikimania, instead of a working conference. They’re different types of events. And so two is a good balance between them, with at least two people, there are two tracks they can go to, have parallel sessions and bring the most value back to their community. The one exception I can think of is for chapters that have staff to also include one staff member; so, next year wherever we hold it, if it’s not in Argentina for example, I think it would make sense for two board members of Wikimedia Argentina to come and [one staff].

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Thank you!



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April 12, 2014

Wikimedian Cindy Ashley-Nelson dies at conference in Berlin

Wikimedian Cindy Ashley-Nelson dies at conference in Berlin

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

File photo of Cynthia Ashley-Nelson from 2006
Image: Cynthia Ashley-Nelson.

Cynthia Ashley-Nelson died the night before last while attending the Wikimedia Conference in Berlin, Germany. She was very active in the Wikimedia movement, and was named the vice-chair of Wikimedia’s Affiliations Committee on Thursday, the day prior to her death, after only having joined the Committee earlier this year. The day before she died, she spent a lot of time talking to a number of the event’s attendees and spent time with several members of the Affiliations Committee.

An announcement regarding her death was made on the main Wikimedia mailing list this morning by Bence Dakamos, a conference attendee and the previous chair of the Affiliations Committee. In part, the e-mail announcement said, “We are sad beyond words and so is everyone who came to Berlin to participate in the Wikimedia Conference. Her passing is a great loss for everyone in the Wikimedia movement. This morning all the conference attendees gathered together to grieve and talk about the loss of Cindy. We decided that all of us at the Wikimedia Conference could choose to continue the conversations about the future of the movement Cindy cared so much about, as well as spending our time here to remember and celebrate her. She will be greatly missed.”

Fellow Affiliations Committee member Gregory Varnum said, “The Lord giveth, and The Lord taketh away. While the passage of time may allow us to forgive whatever greater presence you may believe in for taking her away, the passage of time will not result in us forgetting the amazing person she was, her passion for our movement, or the brilliance she brought to her volunteer work.”

Wikimedia Foundation board member María Sefidari said in her part on her personal blog, “I got to know Cindy a bit beyond that, for she wanted to test ideas and potential directions in which to take the movement. We would send each other long emails about movement roles and how to move forward with the movement. And as it usually happens, conversations turned from the more formal to the informal, eventually including little snippets of our every day lives, the good things that happened to us and the not so good. When we met for the first time face to face two days ago, we gave each other a big hug. In the session we had during the AffCom meeting she once again showed her passion and commitment to help reimagine the role of AffCom and how to help emerging and new affiliates. And at the end of that session, she was confirmed as the new vice-chair of AffCom. That speaks to the impact she made inside the committee in such a short time. I think our last interaction was about getting together at some moment during the conference to just hang out and talk. She had a great smile.”

Ashley-Nelson was actively involved in many parts of the Wikimedia community beyond her position on the Affiliations Committee. She served as a moderator on the Wikimedia Foundation’s gendergap mailing list, a list dedicated to addressing the under representation of women as contributors. She became an Open-source Ticket Request System agent, handling requests from Wikimedia users who had problems they needed assistance with issues like copyright. She was an administrator on English Wikipedia. She had previously been a member of Wikimedia’s Grant Advisory Committee, where she assisted in reviewing grant applications submitted by members of the Wikimedia community. She was involved with Wikimedia’s Global Education Program, assisting students and professors with improving articles about global and United States public policy. She was also involved in the education program as an Online Ambassador, a member of the Ambassador Selection Team and Wikipedia Ambassador Steering Committee.

An active Wikipedia contributor since 2007, she made over 30,000 contributions to English Wikipedia. She wrote eight Did You Knows that appeared on the front page of the project, and contributed to two Good Articles, the Washington: A Life article and the Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 10th Earl of Shaftesbury article. The day prior to her death, she welcomed a number of new users to the project and did other editing tasks like removing copyright violations and cleaning up promotional language found in articles.

A Washington state resident, she was the founder and Executive Director of Catalyst Resource Network, having started the organization in December 2006. During the course of her professional career, she also worked for the Sycamore Street Review as a staff writer, Hookers for Jesus as the organization’s Vice President, the Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council for the State of Washington, and several other roles for the State of Washington. She was honored several times in connection with her work.

Members of the Affiliations Committee got together for a breakfast before heading to the conference. A grief counselor was available at the conference. A brief tribute was held at the start of today’s proceedings, which Sefidari described as “touching”.



Related news

  • “Wikimedian activist Adrianne Wadewitz dies” — Wikinews, April 10, 2014

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April 10, 2014

Wikimedian activist Adrianne Wadewitz dies

Wikimedian activist Adrianne Wadewitz dies

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

A video from 2012 where Wadewitz discusses the impact of Wikipedia
Image: Vgrigas.

News broke early this morning on Facebook that Wikipedian Adrianne Wadewitz died while rock climbing recently. Wadewitz was well known in the Wikimedia community for her activism drawing attention to the lack of female contributors on Wikipedia. She was also very involved in the Wiki Education Foundation, serving as a member of its board of directors.

Wadewitz was one of the most visible women in the media on the under-representation of women amongst contributors to Wikipedia, talking to media organizations like the BBC, the Huffington Post and non-English publications like Greek-language magazine LIFO. Some estimates put female participation rates at around 10% of contributors and there is a body of academic work talking about systemic bias against topics featuring women on Wikipedia.

She was involved in organizing several edit-a-thons aimed at encouraging greater female participation and improving content about women, including Wikipedia Takes America: Los Angeles, FemTech Edit-a-thon, Wikipedia Loves Eagle Rock, Wikipedia Loves WeHo, and Feminists Engage Wikipedia. Wadewitz’s own work to address systemic bias as an article contributor included improving English Wikipedia articles relating to women, including:

Cquote1.svg Adrianne embodied brilliance, determination, and enthusiasm in everything she did Cquote2.svg

—Tribute by a fellow Wikimedian

  • Mary Wollstonecraft
  • Thoughts on the Education of Daughters
  • Mary: A Fiction
  • A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
  • Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman
  • Timeline of Mary Wollstonecraft
  • Fanny Imlay
  • Mary Shelley
  • Anna Laetitia Barbauld
  • Sarah Trimmer
  • Mary Martha Sherwood

The funerary arrangement picture decorating the top of Wadewitz’s Wikipedia talk page.
Image: Mogens Engelund.

She started contributing to English Wikipedia in July 2004. She had taught two classes on collaborative work on the project, and was involved with FemTechNet Wikistorming, an academic effort to encourage more women involved in academia to contribute to Wikipedia. In the past month, she had written several blog entries on HASTAC, an online collaborative platform dedicated to changing the way people learn, about how to write about academics on Wikipedia.

Fellow activist Sarah Stierch said in a public post on Facebook, “My heart hurts. Adrianne was a leading voice – and her legacy still is – in the work we have been doing to get more women and more diverse peoples contributing to Wikipedia. Two days ago she was quoted in the BBC, for godsake.” Stierch went on to say, “A sarcastic, feminist, smart, brilliant, to the point delivery type of academic genius who held an honest love life for all to see and a life in LA that was becoming one she owned.”

At the time of her death, she was a Mellon Digital Scholarship Fellow at Occidental College. In 2011, she earned her PhD from Indiana University.

Wikimedians are memorializing her on her Wikipedia talk page, which is adorned with a picture of a funerary arrangement of flowers. A notice at the top of the page invites condolences, which have been arriving in their dozens. “This is a crushing loss, for the Wikipedia community and the world. There was no one else like her.” wrote one contributor. Another noted “Adrianne embodied brilliance, determination, and enthusiasm in everything she did.”



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February 12, 2014

News briefs: February 12, 2014

News briefs: February 12, 2014 – Wikinews, the free news source

News briefs: February 12, 2014

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Wikinews Audio Briefs
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Wednesday, February 12, 2014
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Wikimedia-logo.svg This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Script

Promo

(Music)

Today on Wikinews: We briefly recap some of the stories appearing on Wikinews during the last two weeks and from around the world.

Today is Wednesday, February 12, 2014. I am Chad Tew and this is Wikinews.

Briefs

Wiki loves the European Parliament in Strasbourg (0:30)

Volunteers from Wikipedia and other sister projects — including members of Wikinews — worked at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, to procure high-quality photographs, video and audio introductions of members of the European Parliament. The team of fifty were able to produce over a thousand photographs and two hundred video clips. The material — gathered over four days in early February — will all be stored permanently on Wikimedia Commons as freely-available and reusable, multimedia content. Wikinews provides more video and photographs of parliamentarians and volunteers, as well as the full story, on the Wikinews website.

Scottish Parliament approve same-sex marriage (1:20)

The Scottish Parliament overwhelmingly approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. But religious groups — including the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Scotland — opposed the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill. The bill allows humanist celebrations along with civil and religious ceremonies — and religious organizations have the option to participate. Alex Neil — Scottish Secretary for Health and Wellness — proposed the legislation.

Sandra Fluke declares candidacy for California State Senate (1:53)

Women’s rights advocate Sandra Fluke announced her candidacy to run as a Democrat for the California State Senate. Because US Congress member Henry Waxman announced his retirement, Fluke originally said she would run for Congress. She decided to run for California State Senate instead. Fluke said she could accomplish more for the people of California as a state senator. The seat is currently occupied by Democrat Ted Lieu, and he is beginning his campaign for Waxman’s seat.

Hamas returns rocket-prevention forces to action (2:30)

The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip has deployed security forces along the border to prevent rocket fire on Israel. Recent reports have said Hamas withdrew its rocket-prevention force to protest Israeli attacks. Recently, there has been an escalation in tension between Hamas and Israel, with Israeli attacks and rocket shooting from the Gaza strip.

Japan government panel urges reinterpretation of pacifist constitution (3:01)

A government panel in Japan is considering interpretations to the constitution. These would allow the Japanese military to come to the aid of its allies and strengthen ties with the United States. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been called the “Asian Hitler” by North Korea’s state news agency. The government panel looked for ways to reinterpret the constitution, because there was no public support to rewrite or revise it.

France issues pollution alert as ship splits off Basque coast (3:35)

France issued a pollution alert after a Spanish cargo ship collided with a barrier and split in two off of the French coast. The ship, named the Luno, had one hundred twenty to one hundred sixty cubic meters of fuel aboard when the high winds and waves from a storm caused the ship to hit the breakwater. That is about five percent of an olympic-sized swimming pool. The ship was on its way to pick up fertilizer cargo when it split. One part remained on the rocks and the other lay close to the beach.

Watchdog finds police could have prevented Tayside, Scotland road crash (4:15)

An organization that audits law enforcement criticized the Tayside division of police in Scotland for failing to act on reports of drunk drivers. After one report, the same drunk driver later crashed and wounded himself and three passengers. The incident happened on June thirty, twenty thirteen, when a nineteeen-year-old lost control of the car and collided with a wall. Before the crash a member of the public had reported the driver as drunk. A similar incident happened last year with a drunk driver injuring a pedestrian after police had been notified the driver was drunk.

NSW Parliament passes alcohol-fuelled violence bill hours after drafting (5:02)

The Parliament of New South Wales in Australia has passed new legislation for harsher penalties on violent behavior related to alcohol consumption. Among the provisions, an eight-year prison term for someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol who fatally punches another person. This addition came about after Shaun McNeil allegedly punched eighteen-year-old Daniel Christie on New Years Eve at Kings Cross, leading to his death on January eleven of this year.

Warhol’s photo legacy spread by university exhibits (5:40)

The Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program has donated works from Warhol’s collection to almost two hundred university art centers across the United States since two thousand seven, and those universities have been holding exhibits ever since. Wikinews was at the opening of the the University of Southern Indiana’s exhibit January twenty three. That Evansville, Indiana exhibit displays about one hundred Polaroids and some additional gelatin silver prints, as well as several colored screen prints from Warhol’s collection. The exhibit runs through March nine. Read more about the exhibit and about the program to spread Warhol’s photographic legacy at Wikinews dot org.

Outro (6:32)

And those are the headlines from Wikinews.

(MUSIC)

This has been the Audio Wikinews brief. To receive the latest news, please visit wikinews.org, presenting up-to-date, relevant, newsworthy and entertaining content without bias.

Wikinews is a free service and it is funded by your generous donations. Click on the donate link on our homepage to learn how you can contribute.

This recording has been released under the Creative Commons 2.5 License.



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February 11, 2014

Wiki loves the European Parliament in Strasbourg

Wiki loves the European Parliament in Strasbourg

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wikimedia-logo.svg This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The European Parliament building in Strasbourg
Image: Ralf Roletschek.

A special Wikinews video report from the parliament visit
Image: Brian McNeil.

Last week fifty volunteers, from nine countries covering nineteen languages, spent four days at the European Parliament buildings in Strasbourg photographing and filming members of the parliament (MEPs). This being an effort to significantly increase the audio-visual content available in Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation projects.

Members of the team, who were all granted guest press accreditation, began arriving at the hotel in the small town of Kork, not far from the France–Germany border, on Saturday. The team base, Hotel Ochsen, has an interesting history. Placards on the courtyard wall explain it served as headquarters for Field marshal Kollowrat-Krakowsky battling Napoleonic forces in the 1796 Siege of Kehl.

Those arriving later came directly to the Louise Weiss building, which hosts the parliament’s plenary sessions and all voting on EU matters. Whilst staying in the hotel, the Wikimedian group met two MEPs who chose it in-preference to dramatically more-expensive Strasbourg accommodation. One of the ushers from the parliament also chatted with volunteers at the hotel, self-depricatingly describing his ceremonial attire as a “penguin suit” due to the long-tailed jacket.

One of the first day’s MEPs to introduce themselves to the visiting Wikimedians was Christian Engström; delivering copies of his book, The Case for Copyright Reform, co-authored with Swedish Pirate Party founder Rickard Falkvinge. Engström explained that, in the book, he argues Wikipedia is one of the losers under current copyright legislation. One of numerous MEPs who recorded video introductions in multiple languages, he was more-confident than some colleagues — the most-challenging taking thirteen takes to successfully record.

Wikimedia volunteers pose for a group photo in the parliament
Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc.

Planning meeting in Hotel Ochsen, prior to travelling to the EU Parliament in Strasbourg
Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc.

Something to tempt MEPs into allowing their photos be taken
Image: Marcus Cyron.

Travelling by bus to the parliament
Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc.

Unpacking and setting up in the parliament
Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc.

MEP Michel Barnier talking to the mainstream press in the parliament
Image: Ralf Roletschek.

Elmar Brok giving a press conference in the parliament
Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc.

The Wiki loves parliaments photography ‘booths’ in the parliament
Image: Texaner.

Italian president Giorgio Napolitano addressing the parliamentary chamber
Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc.

The parliament’s Sakharov Exhibition, adjacent to where Wikimedians set up photo editing stations
Image: Brian McNeil.

French journalist Serge July inside the parliament during a press conference where it was demanded journalists held in Syria be released
Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc.

MEPs in makeup prior to being photographed
Image: Marcus Cyron.

Portrait photo of Hungarian MEP Livia Jaroka
Image: Leila Paul.

Interior shot of the parliament’s Louise Weiss building
Image: Brian McNeil.

Wikimedians uploading photos, and editing articles, in the parliament
Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc.

Banner in the courtyard of the parliament, calling for release of journalists held hostage in Syria
Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc.

William Legge, 10th Earl of Dartmouth, MEP for South West England
Image: Leila Paul.

Wikimedian Manuel Schneider (in background) filming a statement from MEP Bruno Gollnisch in the parliament
Image: Claude Truong-Ngoc.

Re-packing equipment after the Wiki loves parliament event
Image: Brian McNeil.

Wikimedians have a final shared meal after the event
Image: Brian McNeil.

Over 1,000 new, high-quality, photographs were taken and uploaded for use on Wikimedia projects during the visit. The second and third days in the parliament saw the highest number of MEPs coming to see the visiting Wikimedians and have their photographs taken. Once photographed, MEPs were encouraged to make video introductions in languages they were comfortable speaking in. In excess of 200 video clips of MEPs introducing themselves were captured; this providing freely-reusable audio and video records available via Wikimedia Commons.

A medley of MEPs introducing themselves
Image: Brian McNeil, Manuel Schneider.

Parliamentarians became more-enthusiastic about the project in its later days, with significantly more turning up to be photographed and filmed. Given some turned up as Wikimedians were packing up on the last day, some still lack freely-licensed photographs for their Wikipedia entries. French MEP, and National Front member, Bruno Gollnisch was amongst those disappointed when turning up after much of the equipment was packed up; although Gollnisch has already provided some video recordings, he had returned with additional prepared texts — including Japanese — for use in a video introduction.

Despite much of two levels within the parliament set aside for the press, the event received little coverage from mainstream media. France TV‘s channel three broadcast a report on the Thursday, making footage available via their website on the Friday.

In contrast the Voice intro project (WikiVIP) started by Andy Mabbett, and brought to a far-wider audience with Stephen Fry‘s endorsement, saw Mabbet give an interview from one of the parliament’s radio studios with United States‘ public radio network NPR. With Fry’s recording catching the attention of the press, that project has received coverage from as-far afield as Italy, Russia, and Japan.

Audio for use on Wikipedia is to be extracted from video recordings of MEPs for use on Wikimedia projects. As available storage and bandwidth increases, it is a longer-term goal of the Wikimedia Foundation to increase freely-available, and reusable, multimedia content across all projects hosted by the Foundation.

The project also served as an opportunity to emphasise that all Wikimedia content is created through people donating their time and effort. Whilst MEPs knew anyone could edit Wikipedia, meeting a group representing all ages, and much of Europe, served as an effective public-relations exercise.



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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
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February 5, 2013

Wikinews interviews DuckDuckGo, Opera, Mozilla, Wikimedia about DoNotTrack feature

Wikinews interviews DuckDuckGo, Opera, Mozilla, Wikimedia about DoNotTrack feature

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Following the introduction of a “Do Not Track” feature in modern browsers at the end of last year, Wikinews interviewed several companies and groups about the feature.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo founder Gabriel Weinberg
Image: Gabriel Weinberg.

DuckDuckGo logo
Image: Gabriel Weinberg.

DuckDuckGo office
Image: Gabriel Weinberg.

A crowdsourced search engine DuckDuckGo reviewed the feature and launched a whatisDNT microsite in December. The review involved checking answers to basic questions such as whether websites stop shaping a user profile based on users’ online actvitity or stop displaying targeted advertising. Wikinews interviewed DuckDuckGo founder Gabriel Weinberg about the microsite launch and the DuckDuckGo opinion on the feature.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What prompted the launch of DuckDuckGo (I think it was around 2006?)?

Gabriel Weinberg: We launched on Sep 25, 2008, though I had been working on it for about a year prior. The initial motivation was to try a search engine with a different UI that did a better job of using more structured content (like from Wikipedia) and also more aggressively removed spam.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What does the DuckDuckGo Team use instead of Gmail?

GW: We do not have company mail accounts (beyond forwarding ones), so everyone uses what they want. I personally use outlook.com right now.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png When and how did DuckDuckGo start using Perl? What influenced this decision and language choice?

GW: We started out in Perl. I picked it up at MIT where it was prevalent in the late 90s, and pretty much never looked back. It worked really well for a project like this that is text heavy and can use a lot of existing helper (CPAN) libraries.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png How did you first hear about “DoNotTrack” feature?

GW: I do not remember, but it was a long time ago :). The Do Not Track concept was proposed many years ago.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png When did you launch http://whatisDNT.com/ ? Who worked on it? What researches, tests and studies did it involve?

GW: We launched the What Is Do Not Track micro-site on Dec 19, 2012, and various members of the DuckDuckGo Team worked on it (including myself). We had been following it closely for a while, and so have been up to date on everything that is going on with it. It honestly doesn’t take any tests to prove its ineffectiveness since companies like Google tell you straight up they don’t honor it.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png A search engine that does not track users sounds good. What do you recommend users to do to not be tracked by *other* websites, such as blogs with targeted ads in sidebar?

GW: It depends on the Web browser you are using for specifics, but for each major Web browser there are tools you can install (besides DuckDuckGo extensions) to protect you in various scenarios. Some of those that are available in multiple browsers are Ghostery, DoNotTrackMe, and HTTPS Everywhere. Those help protect you while not really changing your browsing experience. Other tools do more, but do impact your browsing experience, like Tor and NoScript.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What is your opinion of ad block tools such as AdBlockPlus and NoScript that ideally aim to block third-party js?

GW: I think they are effective at doing what they set out to do, and that is great if you are a consumer who wants that experience. However, they are not for everyone because they do degrade browsing ability, especially NoScript.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Do you think that DoNotTarget option should exist (if consistendly adhered to)?

GW: Absolutely. My main problem with the DoNotTrack setting right now is it is misleading. If you use a major Web browser, you have this Do Not Track setting within it, but it really does next to nothing. It is a false sense of security.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What do you see the ideal behaviour of companies when it comes to making a user’s profile? Would you like to ideally prohibit such activity entirely using legislative regulations in the long run?

GW: Yes, I think an analogy to the Do Not Call list is apt. Applying that analogy, if you were on a Do Not Track list then companies shouldn’t track you unless you explicitly ask them to, e.g. by logging in and consenting to Terms of Service. That will only happen via legislative means, however.

Opera

Flage Bratsberg, Product Counsel, Opera Software ASA

Wikinews also interviewed Haakon Flage Bratsberg, Product Counsel from Opera Software, the corporation behind Opera web browser.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Have you heard of “Do Not Track” feature support in modern browsers? What do you think about it?

Haakon Flage Bratsberg: Opera browser for desktop computers has built in support for Do Not Track since version 12, and Opera Software participates in the W3C Tracking Protection Working Group.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Given that not all companies respect this setting, do you feel its name misleading? Do you think it could better be named “Do Not Target” instead?

HFB: This is our major concern about the DNT functionality: Users can be given a false sense of security.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Do you think that all websites should respect DNT users’ preferences in the long run?

HFB: In general we think websites should comply with web standards, including the current proposal for DNT.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Would you ideally see the respect for DNT users’ preferences legally enforced?

HFB: There are obvious limitations to a pure self regulatory approach, but our hope is that self regulation will provide a sufficient good outcome in this case.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What do you see as an ideal solution to resolve the misleading situation with DoNotTrack that you acknowledged in your response to the second question?

HFB: First of all, I personally do not think the name of DoNotTrack is misleading. However, the challenge is to have a meaningful standard that users can still be aware of the risks of that may be involved without giving a false sense of security. For example “private mode” in your browser does not prevent that your internet access provider can still keep track of what websites you visit, websites can collect information about you and so on. It only removes the trace of the sites you visited in your “browser”. Similarly, the websites can by accident or intention to be set up in a way so they do not comply with the DNT signal. There is always a risk of rouge agents.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png How do you envision the “self regulatory” approach? How would it work?

HFB: Self regulation basically means that the different stakeholders without having a legal obligation to do so, comply with a set of rules, for example an industry technical specification as W3C tracking protection standards. My take is that DNT would be a success if all major stakeholders involved in the process would comply with the standards. It is more an open question to what extent compliance to the technical standard is sufficient to comply with applicable laws in its respective country, for instance, in EU, or in the USA.

Mozilla

Wikinews contacted the Mozilla press office and got replies on behalf of the Mozilla Corporation.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png When and why did you decide to start supporting the Do Not Track feature?

Mozilla: Mozilla introduced Do Not Track in the desktop Firefox browser in January 2011, and in June 2011 Firefox for Android became the first mobile browser to support Do Not Track.
M: We support Do Not Track because we believe it is crucial to put users in control of their online experience. Do Not Track is intended to give users choice and control in a persistent, accessible way without preventing the customization and valuable advertising that powers the Web economy. We are seeking ways to give users better insight and control into the ways their personal information is collected, used, stored and shared.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Do you think that all websites should respect DNT users’ preferences in the long run?

M: Mozilla is actively working with companies that have started to implement Do Not Track and with others who have committed to doing so. Ultimately, the goal is for all industry stakeholders to trust and respect the signal in the long run.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png The mobile Firefox attitude to DNT is …interesting! Thank you for the replies.

Wikimedia

Wikinews contacted the Wikimedia press office and got replies from Jay Walsh, senior director of communications at the Wikimedia Foundation.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Have you heard of “Do Not Track” feature support in modern browsers? What do you think about it?

Portrait of Jay Walsh, 2008
Image: Lane Hartwell.

Jay Walsh: We’re familiar with this feature of browsers. This provides the user with the option to remove user tracking, including cookies. It disrupts a lot of the technology used by digital ad services to follow users across sites etc. For the most part any users of the Foundation’s projects would have no issues using the projects if they had Do Not Track enabled on their browser. The only issue they might have is in dismissing message banners on the projects (such as the fundraising banner) may not be completely predictable – banners may reappear after dismissing.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Given that not all companies respect this setting, do you feel its name misleading? Do you think it could better be named “Do Not Target” instead?

JW: I’m not sure if you mean browser-making companies or web companies. Many users who activate this service are aware that by disabling user tracking they are effectively preventing ad or content targeting. We’re not a browser software organization, so it’s not a topic we spend a lot of time considering. However I think it’s safe to say that our community (who are very active, opensource and free knowledge advocates) would like the maximum amount of transparency and clarity in these kinds of features for users.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Do you think that all websites should respect DNT users’ preferences in the long run?

JW: That’s not really a question we’re in the best position to answer. Obviously we take this kind of thing pretty seriously. From a software development perspective we would never want to confuse or frustrate a user by side-stepping a feature like do not track. We’d like all websites to honor a web user’s preferences and desire for privacy of course. Obviously we’re all looking at an Internet that relies increasingly on tracking technology to support commercial goals.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Would you ideally see the respect for DNT users’ preferences legally enforced?

JW: That would be a question for our legal counsel. But I’m sure it’s a topic we’d want to research in more detail before reflecting on, and given that we’re a non profit and we have pretty limited resources it’s not always possible for us to have legal opinions on all matters.



Sources

Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

External links

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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

February 4, 2013

Wikinews interviews DuckDuckGo, Opera, Mozilla, Wikimedia about DoNotTrack browsers feature

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
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Wikimedia-logo.svg This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Following the introduction of a “Do Not Track” feature in modern browsers at the end of last year, Wikinews interviewed several companies and groups about the feature.

Contents

DuckDuckGo

Gabriel Weinberg
Image: Gabriel Weinberg.

DuckDuckGo logo
Image: Gabriel Weinberg.

DuckDuckGo office
Image: Gabriel Weinberg.

A crowdsourced search engine DuckDuckGo reviewed the feature and launched a whatisDNT microsite in December. The review involved checking answers to basic questions such as whether websites stop shaping a user profile based on users’ online actvitity or stop displaying targeted advertising. Wikinews interviewed DuckDuckGo founder Gabriel Weinberg about the microsite launch and the DuckDuckGo opinion on the feature.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What prompted for your launch of DuckDuckGo (I think it was around 2006?)?

Gabriel Weinberg: We launched on Sep 25, 2008, though I had been working on it for about a year prior. The initial motivation was to try a search engine with a different UI that did a better job of using more structured content (like from Wikipedia) and also more aggressively removed spam.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What does the DuckDuckGo Team use instead of Gmail?

GW: We do not have company mail accounts (beyond forwarding ones), so everyone uses what they want. I personally use outlook.com right now.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png When and how did DuckDuckGo start using Perl? What influenced this decision and language choice?

GW: We started out in Perl. I picked it up at MIT where it was prevalent in the late 90s, and pretty much never looked back. It worked really well for a project like this that is text heavy and can use a lot of existing helper (CPAN) libraries.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png How did you first hear about “DoNotTrack” feature?

GW: I do not remember, but it was a long time ago :). The Do Not Track concept was proposed many years ago.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png When did you launch http://whatisDNT.com/ ? Who worked on it? What researches, tests and studies did it involve?

GW: We launched the What Is Do Not Track micro-site on Dec 19, 2012, and various members of the DuckDuckGo Team worked on it (including myself). We had been following it closely for a while, and so have been up to date on everything that is going on with it. It honestly doesn’t take any tests to prove its ineffectiveness since companies like Google tell you straight up they don’t honor it.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png A search engine that does not track users sounds good. What do you recommend users to do to not be tracked by *other* websites, such as blogs with targeted ads in sidebar?

GW: It depends on the Web browser you are using for specifics, but for each major Web browser there are tools you can install (besides DuckDuckGo extensions) to protect you in various scenarios. Some of those that are available in multiple browsers are Ghostery, DoNotTrackMe, and HTTPS Everywhere. Those help protect you while not really changing your browsing experience. Other tools do more, but do impact your browsing experience, like Tor and NoScript.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What is your opinion of ad block tools such as AdBlockPlus and NoScript that ideally aim to block third-party js?

GW: I think they are effective at doing what they set out to do, and that is great if you are a consumer who wants that experience. However, they are not for everyone because they do degrade browsing ability, especially NoScript.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Do you think that DoNotTarget option should exist (if consistendly adhered to)?

GW: Absolutely. My main problem with the DoNotTrack setting right now is it is misleading. If you use a major Web browser, you have this Do Not Track setting within it, but it really does next to nothing. It is a false sense of security.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What do you see the ideal behaviour of companies when it comes to making a user’s profile? Would you like to ideally prohibit such activity entirely using legislative regulations in the long run?

GW: Yes, I think an analogy to the Do Not Call list is apt. Applying that analogy, if you were on a Do Not Track list then companies shouldn’t track you unless you explicitly ask them to, e.g. by logging in and consenting to Terms of Service. That will only happen via legislative means, however.

Opera

Flage Bratsberg, Product Counsel, Opera Software ASA

Wikinews also interviewed Haakon Flage Bratsberg, Product Counsel from Opera Software, the corporation behind Opera web browser.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Have you heard of “Do Not Track” feature support in modern browsers? What do you think about it?

Haakon Flage Bratsberg: Opera browser for desktop computers has built in support for Do Not Track since version 12, and Opera Software participates in the W3C Tracking Protection Working Group.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Given that not all companies respect this setting, do you feel its name misleading? Do you think it could better be named “Do Not Target” instead?

HFB: This is our major concern about the DNT functionality: Users can be given a false sense of security.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Do you think that all websites should respect DNT users’ preferences in the long run?

HFB: In general we think websites should comply with web standards, including the current proposal for DNT.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Would you ideally see the respect for DNT users’ preferences legally enforced?

HFB: There are obvious limitations to a pure self regulatory approach, but our hope is that self regulation will provide a sufficient good outcome in this case.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png What do you see as an ideal solution to resolve the misleading situation with DoNotTrack that you acknowledged in your response to the second question?

HFB: First of all, I personally do not think the name of DoNotTrack is misleading. However, the challenge is to have a meaningful standard that users can still be aware of the risks of that may be involved without giving a false sense of security. For example “private mode” in your browser does not prevent that your internet access provider can still keep track of what websites you visit, websites can collect information about you and so on. It only removes the trace of the sites you visited in your “browser”. Similarly, the websites can by accident or intention to be set up in a way so they do not comply with the DNT signal. There is always a risk of rouge agents.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png How do you envision the “self regulatory” approach? How would it work?

HFB: Self regulation basically means that the different stakeholders without having a legal obligation to do so, comply with a set of rules, for example an industry technical specification as W3C tracking protection standards. My take is that DNT would be a success if all major stakeholders involved in the process would comply with the standards. It is more an open question to what extent compliance to the technical standard is sufficient to comply with applicable laws in its respective country, for instance, in EU, or in the USA.

Mozilla

Wikinews contacted the Mozilla press office and interviewed Chris Lane, who gave replies on behalf of the Mozilla Corporation.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png When and why did you decide to start supporting the Do Not Track feature?

Chris Lane: Mozilla introduced Do Not Track in the desktop Firefox browser in January 2011, and in June 2011 Firefox for Android became the first mobile browser to support Do Not Track.
Chris Lane: We support Do Not Track because we believe it is crucial to put users in control of their online experience. Do Not Track is intended to give users choice and control in a persistent, accessible way without preventing the customization and valuable advertising that powers the Web economy. We are seeking ways to give users better insight and control into the ways their personal information is collected, used, stored and shared.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Do you think that all websites should respect DNT users’ preferences in the long run?

Chris Lane: Mozilla is actively working with companies that have started to implement Do Not Track and with others who have committed to doing so. Ultimately, the goal is for all industry stakeholders to trust and respect the signal in the long run.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png The mobile Firefox attitude to DNT is …interesting! Thank you for the replies.

Wikimedia

Wikinews contacted the Wikimedia press office and got replies from Jay Walsh, senior director of communications at the Wikimedia Foundation.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Have you heard of “Do Not Track” feature support in modern browsers? What do you think about it?

Portrait of Jay Walsh, 2008
Image: Lane Hartwell.

Jay Walsh: We’re familiar with this feature of browsers. This provides the user with the option to remove user tracking, including cookies. It disrupts a lot of the technology used by digital ad services to follow users across sites etc. For the most part any users of the Foundation’s projects would have no issues using the projects if they had Do Not Track enabled on their browser. The only issue they might have is in dismissing message banners on the projects (such as the fundraising banner) may not be completely predictable – banners may reappear after dismissing.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Given that not all companies respect this setting, do you feel its name misleading? Do you think it could better be named “Do Not Target” instead?

JW: I’m not sure if you mean browser-making companies or web companies. Many users who activate this service are aware that by disabling user tracking they are effectively preventing ad or content targeting. We’re not a browser software organization, so it’s not a topic we spend a lot of time considering. However I think it’s safe to say that our community (who are very active, opensource and free knowledge advocates) would like the maximum amount of transparency and clarity in these kinds of features for users.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Do you think that all websites should respect DNT users’ preferences in the long run?

JW: That’s not really a question we’re in the best position to answer. Obviously we take this kind of thing pretty seriously. From a software development perspective we would never want to confuse or frustrate a user by side-stepping a feature like do not track. We’d like all websites to honor a web user’s preferences and desire for privacy of course. Obviously we’re all looking at an Internet that relies increasingly on tracking technology to support commercial goals.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Would you ideally see the respect for DNT users’ preferences legally enforced?

JW: That would be a question for our legal counsel. But I’m sure it’s a topic we’d want to research in more detail before reflecting on, and given that we’re a non profit and we have pretty limited resources it’s not always possible for us to have legal opinions on all matters.



External links

Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.
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