SiliconFilter

Wikipedia Is Down – How am I Supposed to do My Homework?

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Among the sites that have decided to take their services down completely in protest of the U.S. government's proposed "anti-piracy" bills SOPA and PIPA, Wikipedia is without doubt the one with the largest mainstream following. Quite a few of its users were obviously surprised by today's complete blackout and are now taking to Twitter to voice their confusion and anger. It's worth noting, though, that the online encyclopedia's users aren't angry and confused about SOPA and PIPA, but about the fact that Wikipedia is "down."

Students are unsurprisingly pretty unhappy that writing their essays has suddenly gotten harder without Wikipedia. Few of them are actually talking about SOPA, though there is a smattering of comments about it here and there. Mostly, though, they are worried about getting their homework done in time. 

Here is a little sampling of reactions to Wikipedia's decision to close down for the day:



8:54 am


Instapaper 4.0 Brings Redesigned Interface, Wikipedia Support and Search to its iPhone and iPad Apps

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Instapaper,  the popular distraction-free offline reading app for iOS, was probably among the first few apps I installed on both my iPhone and iPad and it has never left their respective homescreens since. Today, its developer Marco Arment launched version 4 of the app. It’s available in iTunes now and brings numerous new features that both new and existing users will appreciate. Among these are a redesigned interface , the ability to multi-select articles to archive, delete or move them in bulk, the ability to look up words in Wikipedia and support for footnotes from most websites.

The new design, which is most noticeable on the iPad, moves away from the list view and towards a more grid-like display of your saved articles. According to Instapaper’s developer, this makes for a more touch-friendly interface. The navigation options on the iPad are also now always in the left sidebar.

On the iPhone, the changes are a bit more subtle, but regular users will appreciate that the top status bar is now off by default, giving you more space for your articles (there is an option to turn it back on, though). With the status bar gone, though, you can obviously not check the time while you’re reading. To do so, you have to click on the Actions button in the lower toolbar, which will let the status bar slide back in for a moment.

More Social

Instapaper now also lets you connect your Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr accounts to pull in all the articles your friends have shared on these services. Until now, Instapaper only showed articles your friends liked on these services when they were also Instapaper users. It’s worth noting, though, that these links aren’t downloaded in the text-only view by default, but that you actually have to open up the actual website in the app first and tap the “Read Later” button before they are saved. This will likely make publishers happy, as they can still count ad impressions, though it may confuse the app’s users a bit at first.

Paid Search

One interesting new feature is also the ability to search through the articles you have already downloaded. This is a paid feature, however, available through in-app purchasing and Paypal. This new features costs $2.99 per 3 months.

But There’s More…

Other minor updates include better support for displaying the names of authors and publications, support for Wikipedia definitions, footnotes (though, arguably, only a few websites really use them), and an app directory that showcases Instapaper-compatible apps.

There are, of course, a number of smaller tweaks as well. You can find a full list here.



3:35 pm


Facebook: A Billion Page Views Isn’t Cool. You Know What’s Cool? A Trillion Page Views

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Google’s Doubleclick advertising unit  just updated its list of most-visited websites in the world. According to Google’s data, Facebook’s website reaches 46.9% of all Internet users and can now boast a total of 1 trillion page views from 870 million unique visitors. This easily makes the social network the single most visited site on the web, far ahead of any other online service. Indeed, even YouTube’s 100 billion page views seem paltry in comparison, though it’s worth noting that it almost rivals Facebook with regards to its unique visitors (790 million).

Clearly, though, Facebook is a far stickier site and users come back more often and reload the page more frequently. YouTube’s visitors, on the other hand, don’t quite return as often and probably only watch one or two videos per session. In this context, though, it is also worth noting that Facebook is also becoming a major video destination these days. According to the latest data from comScore, the social network is now the #3 video site in the U.S. (after YouTube and Vevo).

Here is the complete top 10:

top_10_biggest_websites_world

[via: labnol]



4:42 pm


Jimmy Wales: Wikipedia is Losing Contributors

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Few websites have changed the way we access knowledge as much as Wikipedia. Now, however, it looks like the online encyclopedia is hitting some snags, as the number of volunteers who write and edit its articles is getting smaller. While talking to the Associated Press during Wikipedia’s annual Wikimania conference in Haifa, Israel, the site’s founder Jimmy Wales acknowledged that his organization is ”scrambling to simplify what he called ‘convoluted’ editing templates that may be discouraging people from writing and editing Wikipedia’s entries.”
(more…)



3:58 pm


Wikipedia Beautifier Beautifies Wikipedia

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Wikipedia is undoubtedly among the most useful websites on the Internet, but it definitely is not among the prettiest. Its utilitarian design does the trick, but it doesn’t exactly look inviting. If you are a Chrome user, however, a new extension now makes the site far more readable. The Readability-inspired Wikipedia Beautifier fades out all the extra crud around the text and allows you to fully focus on the article itself.

One nice aspect of the extension is that all of Wikipedia’s features are still available. Just mouse over the top or left of the page and they will fade in.

Here is the full list of its features of the extension, which was developed by Berlin-based programmer Scott Wheeler: [list]

  • Swaps out the content fonts to nice, big, serif fonts
  • Fades out the navigation bars to the top and left when not in use
  • Justifies text and adds automatic hyphenation
  • Makes a handful of margin adjustments to make things line up in more presentable ways[/list]

To install this extension, just head over here and look for the “click here to install the Chrome extension” link in the middle of the page.wikipedia_prettier

wikipedia_beautifier



5:04 pm


Hacker Shows It Doesn’t Take $8 Million to Clone Qwiki – Just 321 Lines of HTML Will do the Trick

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Qwiki is an app that creates pretty slideshows based on Wikipedia entries. The service won the top award at the last Techcrunch Disrupt conference and just received $8 million in new funding from a group led by Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin.

Personally, I never understood why putting together a text-to-speech engine with a Ken Burns effect was disruptive. The VCs on the Disrupt jury thought different, though, and chose this pretty but ultimately utterly useless service over really disruptive ones like CloudFlare. Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so. Now, just to show how Qwiki didn't merit the large new round of funding and how it doesn't deserve the constant hype on tech blogs like Techcrunch, an intrepid hacker who goes by the name of "Banksy the Lucky Stiff" put together Fqwiki, a workable Qwiki clone in just 321 Lines of HTML.

In the source code, the developer clearly references that the reason for this project was to show how easy it is to implement the basic functionality of Qwiki: "This code is not pretty, but it doesn't need to be. It's only been 6 hours, but based on funding patterns I should be able to raise a few million off of this ;)." The first demo of Fqwiki you see after opening the site is its rendition of the Wikipedia entry for "snake oil."

Fqwiki works best in Safari and Chrome, isn't quite as visually pleasing as Qwiki and is still quite buggy. As a smart critique of Qwiki and the hype around it, it definitely fulfills its purpose already, though.

Indeed, more so than a product, Fqwiki is a comment on the current state of VC funding and tech blogging. Qwiki is a very pretty product, but it's hard to see why it deserves the funding and attention it has been receiving. As of now, it only reads out Wikipedia entries and pulls matching pictures from articles that were linked to from the original Wikipedia entry. It's hard to imagine a situation where you would prefer seeing a Wikipedia slideshow (which, like all good slideshows, takes way too long) over just reading the article.



8:59 pm