Philippa Thomas Online

Occasional thoughts about life, books and news.


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The Smithsonian goes open-source

Another good example of traditional academia embracing the open-source ethos. Scientists at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History needed to identify 5,000 species of fish – and fast – and they did – by crowdsourcing.

I found this via @openculture and @kirstinbutler on Twitter – thank you.

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PJ Crowley talks to BBC Hardtalk – full transcript

Ex-US state department spokesman PJ Crowley, who quit after criticising the treatment of the man accused of leaking secret cables to Wikileaks, has told BBC World News he has no regrets.

He resigned under heavy political pressure after describing the Pentagon’s treatment of Bradley Manning as “ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid” – as reported on this blog.
Talking for the first time in an exclusive interview with HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur, PJ Crowley said that the treatment of Bradley Manning was undermining “a very legitimate” effort to prosecute him.

The following are key quotes from the full interview with PJ Crowley.

    Please credit HARDtalk on BBC World News:

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Talking to Brian Lehrer TV

I’ve given an interview about this blog – and what happened after my post about Bradley Manning & P J Crowley. It’s part of a programme with New York TV host Brian Lehrer called “Citizens cover the Uprisings”. I apologise in advance for alarming any viewers by being scarily close up to the camera on Skype, and gosh do I really have such a terribly British accent?


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Academics “embrace” Wikipedia – shock!

Interesting piece on the BBC website today about students at Imperial College London trying to “bridge” the worlds of academia and Wikipedia. They seem very sensibly to be saying – Wikipedia isn’t going away – Wikipedia is just about the world’s most used research resource – why not bring academic brains to the task of improving rather than scorning the open source encyclopaedia? Continue reading


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What I did and What you said.

On Thursday I published a short story here about the U.S. State Department spokesman’s view that the Department of Defence is being “ridiculous and counter-productive and stupid” in its treatment of Wikileaks whistleblower Private Bradley Manning.

On Friday, President Obama was questioned about it.

On Sunday, the spokesman P.J. Crowley resigned.

I’m writing this because I’ve been a reporter for the BBC for two decades, broadcasting through the traditional mass media of television and radio – and now as an individual, I’ve learned at first hand the power of the blog. Continue reading