Arlington infrastructure

Doc Searls has a nice photoset of Arlington’s infrastructure as seen from the most infra structure of all, the remains of the rail line that forms the Minuteman Trail. He also points to a blog about the trail that makes for interesting reading.

Doc and his commenters have done a lot of digging on Arlington history, and made some good observations about the town, such as the homemade curbing in many streets (legacy of our “private road” peculiarity).

Wiki barnraising

I’ve been a Wikipedia editor in earnest for almost a year now. In my focus area (articles about the University of Virginia) that’s mostly been a quiet, solitary pursuit–writing new articles, revising existing articles, reverting vandalism, but rarely interacting with other editors. I saw a hint of the social side of Wikipedia over the last two weeks that gave me a feeling for how the site’s creativity and collaboration works, at a very rapid pace.

It started for me with a notice on the Raven Society page, suggesting that the article be merged with one on collegiate secret societies in North America. I replied that the Ravens were hardly secret, and given their role in preserving Poe’s memory I thought they merited their own article, and that closed the matter. But I checked out the other article, curious to see how they handled the secret society problem.

(I also edit the list of secret societies at the University of Virginia, which is a pretty thankless job. Despite its “anyone can edit, anyone can improve” philosophy, Wikipedia has pretty strict guidelines for its editors, such as a strong preference for notable, cited content. This leads to an apparent oxymoron, gleefully cited by many contributors, who ask, “How can there be references for secret societies? Aren’t they secret?”, generally while adding “The Nougat Society” to the list. I ended up proposing and enforcing a rule that only societies that could be referenced to a publication could be on the page; “after all,” I wrote, “if the society makes so little difference to the University that even the Cavalier Daily won’t write about it, it isn’t notable enough to be in Wikipedia.”)

I found much the same issue on the collegiate secret societies page, and that the editors there had evolved a similar brightline to guide editing. But another editor had a more ambitious plan; rather than a simple list, he structured an article with sections for each of the schools with large numbers of societies, a general introduction, and a restrictive list of societies that had their own articles. With a number of sections already created, he threw open the floodgates and hung out an Under Construction sign.

I pitched in and wrote the UVA section. Others added too. In three days the basic article was complete in draft form, having gone through some fifty or so revisions by about 10 editors, and at least one good fight.

It’s a lot of fun to watch the process, and makes me think that a similar approach could work for other content, provided there are enough interested editors.

Beautiful day

It was an amazing weekend. I spent the last half of last week dying of some sort of cold/allergy–it was so bad that I think I was running a fever a couple of nights. But on Saturday morning I could move again. And it was a good thing: since it rained the whole previous weekend, my lawn hadn’t been cut yet and it was almost ready to start swallowing small dogs and children.

So I got the mower going for the first time in 2008. It was slow going; the grass was so long and heavy with dew that I had to empty the bag every two rows, and had to scrape the deck clean every four so that the blade wouldn’t get choked. But it was nice to start getting the outside of the house into shape again.

This should be a nice week. No Tanglewood commitments for a while, and I have a trip this weekend to DC to see Lars Bjorn and Craig Fennell, along with some other folks I haven’t seen in a very long time. The occasion: Craig’s bachelor party. Which, since we’re all in our late 30s, should be fairly mellow.

New mix: Picture of you where it began

Inaugurating the new blog in style, here’s my latest mix, which started as a party and ended as a lullaby. Of course, the Art of the Mix service is down right now, but here’s a quick tracklist:

  1. Italian men, “Su Tenore A Ballu” (field recording)
  2. M.I.A., “Bamboo Banga”
  3. The Beatles, “She Said She Said”
  4. The Arcade Fire, “Neighborhood #2 (Laïka)”
  5. Vampire Weekend, “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”
  6. Beirut, “Elephant Gun”
  7. Guided by Voices, “As We Go Up, We Go Down”
  8. Elvis Costello, “Clown Strike”
  9. Talking Heads, “Stay Up Late”
  10. Grandpaboy, “Psychopharmacology”
  11. Elvis Presley, “Crawfish”
  12. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, “100 Days, 100 Nights”
  13. Bob Dylan, “Call Letter Blues”
  14. Sonic Youth, “Shoot”
  15. Black Angels, “You in Color”
  16. Mission of Burma, “Dead Pool”
  17. Radiohead, “House of Cards”
  18. Frank Sinatra, “Last Night When We Were Young”
  19. Duke Ellington, “The Controversial Suite (Later)”
  20. Low, “In Metal”
  21. Big Star, “I’m In Love With a Girl”

Copies to the usual suspects on request; just leave a comment. (Man, it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say that!)

Update: Art of the Mix came back online sometime since I wrote this, so the mix is linked now.

Welcome back

Things are still a little nutty here, but welcome to the newly rebuilt Jarrett House North blog. As you can see, we’re now rockin’ the WordPress, thanks to Erin Clerico, my good host at Weblogger. I’m also rockin’ a standard WordPress theme, but never fear, the house will be back soon.

There are a few things broken. There are broken images, which I’m fixing one at a time. I need to reintegrate some non-blog content, such as my genealogy pages, and of course I have to point all the old blog addresses to this one. But it feels good to be back online.