Wikipedia doubling time

by John Quiggin on April 28, 2006

The English language version of Wikipedia had its one-millionth article on 8 March, and has recently passed 1.1 million, 50 days later. That gives an implied doubling time of about a year. The doubling time seems to be fairly stable, since the 500 000 mark was reached in March 2005, and 250 000 in April 2004.

A straightforward extrapolation gives a billion articles in 2016 (and a trillion in 2026). I planned to write something about this, but it seems much more appropriate to leave it to the collective wisdom of the blogosphere.

On a vaguely related point, thanks to commenters Matt Austern and others on my scale post who pointed me to Powers of Ten. I really like this kind of thing, so feel free to nominate more of the same.

Update over the fold

[click to continue…]

Unintended Consequences

by Harry on April 28, 2006

David Beito reminds conservatives that they can’t always get what they want. Apparently Michelle Malkin complained vociferously about a math teacher at Bellvue Community College asking the following question:

“Condoleezza holds a watermelon just over the edge of the roof of the 300-foot Federal Building, and tosses it up with a velocity of 20 feet per second.”

As a result of the campaign by Malkin and others the teacher was upbraided, the President of the College expanded the administrative staff dealing with diversity issues and the consequence of the whole thing has been a nice bounty for another diversity expert:

In response to Malkin’s campaign, Bellevue College not only has given the diversity police more monitoring authority over the curriculum and personnel evaluations, but will hire the notorious Glenn Singleton to conduct ideologically one-sided training for faculty and staff. Apparently, it will be mandatory.

(Readers with long memories will know that I am less than enamoured with Singleton’s trainings).

David Horowitz take note!

Scorpion and Felix

by Kieran Healy on April 28, 2006

“David Bernstein speculates”:http://www.volokh.com/archives/archive_2006_04_23-2006_04_29.shtml#1146187672 about the casting for a new film of _Atlas Shrugged_. Inevitably, “someone in the comments”:http://volokh.com/posts/1146187672.shtml#85930 points out the obvious, viz, that Ayn Rand is an atrocious novelist fit only for insecure fifteen-year-old boys. Some other Volokh readers are not amused, and stomp off in a huff to listen to their _Rush_ CDs. In the course of his snipe at Rand, the commenter says “At least Marx, for all his faults, didn’t attempt fiction.”

Well, as a matter of fact, he “did”:http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1837-pre/verse/verse41.htm. _Scorpion and Felix_ is Marx’s unpublished comic (I do not say “funny”) novel, written around 1837, when he was 19. It is not for the faint-of-heart. In essence it is a pastiche of _Tristram Shandy_, a book Marx thought was fantastic. Here is the entirety of Chapter 37:

David Hume maintained that this chapter was the _locus communis_ of the preceding, and indeed maintained so before I had written it. His proof was as follows: since this chapter exists, the earlier chapter does not exist, but this chapter has ousted the earlier, from which it sprang, though not through the operation of cause and effect, for this he questioned. Yet every giant, and thus also every chapter of twenty lines, presupposes a dwarf, every genius a hidebound philistine, and every storm at sea — mud, and as soon as the first disappear, the latter begin, sit down at the table, sprawling out their long legs arrogantly.

The first are too great for this world, and so they are thrown out. But the latter strike root in it and remain, as one may see from the facts, for champagne leaves a lingering repulsive aftertaste, Caesar the hero leaves behind him the play-acting Octavianus, Emperor Napoleon the bourgeois king Louis Philippe, the philosopher Rant the carpet-knight Krug, the poet Schiller the Hofrat Raupach, Leibniz’s heaven Wolf’s schoolroom, the dog Boniface this chapter.

Thus the bases are precipitated, while the spirit evaporates.

In his “biography of Marx”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0393321576/ref=nosim/kieranhealysw-20, Francis Wheen points out that the convoluted parodic style seen in the novel was a feature of Marx’s writing throughout his life, and in _Capital_ in particular. He also notes that the passage above, with its contrast of Napoleon and Louis Philippe as giant and dwarf, clearly prefigures the famous opening of the _Eighteenth Brumaire_:

Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. Caussidiere after Danton, Louis Blanc after Robespierre, the _montagne_ of 1848 to 1851 after the _montagne_ of 1793 to 1795, and then the London constable [Louis Bonaparte], with a dozen of his best debt-ridden lieutenants, after the little corporal [Napoleon Bonaparte], with his roundtable of military marshalls.

At any rate, it is striking that Marx had such versatility that he could write a novel even less readable than _Atlas Shrugged_.