Phlox Phlox 23 July 2009

Dorothy Parker about biographies

"I don't care what is written about me so long as it isn't true."
-Dorothy Parker

I wonder how many ancestors felt that way, with the willing complicity of worshipful descendants. Of course epistemologicaly speaking we are all stumbling along like Alice in our wonderland of myths, so I'm not advocating some singular interpretation of individuals. I just wonder how we will accomodate the competing myths. There are very different biographies of historical individuals portrayed alternately as saints or sociopaths, all based on strong primary evidence. There is no reason that we will fare better at getting to a unitary view of an ancestor especially given that family histories are usually composed of much more flimsy evidence. 17:05, 23 Ju…

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Phlox Phlox 15 July 2009

Revolutionary civility

“Among well-bred people a mutual deference is affected, contempt for others is disguised; authority concealed; attention given to each in his turn; and an easy stream of conversation maintained without vehemence, without interruption, without eagerness.” - David Hume

The odd thing about civility is that it can stand in the way of passionate and dramatic drives towards improving things. The "Japanese problem with innovation" is mostly nonsense, but for cultures that want to nurture the accelerated development found in so called more innovative cultures, the wellspring of change can have a lot to do with encouraging the "rudeness" of pointing out and taking personal action to deal with egregious shortcomings- those SNAFus "Situations normal-…

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Phlox Phlox 14 July 2009

What's in a placename? A rose is a rose is a rose?

To extrapolate from Gertrude Stein then, A London is a London is a London? Well, not quite.

Maybe Bill had it right- A rose by any other name smells just as sweet.

Alternatives to WP as an authority on Place Names looks like a dead end. Some might be better in terms of uniformity, but worse in terms of quality of data. Consider the Getty Online Thesaurus of Geographic Names. One would think that this would handle the 1700 year old town of Zhujiajiao properly. It is surprizing it doesn't. It claims to have vernacular display, but no chinese is available. WP has it, along with a proper containment hierarchy unlike Getty. Getty's type for this town is the unhelpful catch all "inhabited place", and it omits the fact that it is in the dis…

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Phlox Phlox 14 July 2009

A report indicating Karlshorst, Berlin or Soho, NYC

Reports are expected to organize data consistently, but genealogical location data is not consistently encoded. The familiar approach to be sure that like locations appear grouped together is to provide a column for city, county, state and so on. Familypedia's location hierarchy is currently

  • country
    • subdivision1
      • county
        • locality
          • street address (repeated)

Such classifications are deliberately simplified to make encoding by naive users easy and quickly comprehensible. However because they are simplified such classifications often break even for common examples. For example, up to now "locality" is a synonym for hamlet, settlements, towns, cities and megalopolises. For the large percentage of individuals in the global population living in large …

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Phlox Phlox 13 July 2009

Informal versus formal location information

A central goal is to make inputting information as easy as possible for first time contributors. I am not completely satisfied with the scheme I currently have implemented with SMW templates and forms. I saw knowledgeable persons making errors, so some adjustments seem reasonable. Problem areas:

  • exceptions such as cases where we need a subdiv2 (for instance Regions of England
  • the unnecessary requirement that users understand how a location is technically classified. Why should we require that users understand that Greater London is a "county", or that England is not a "country" in the sense that Familypedia uses the term (sovereign nation with a seat at the U.N., able to negotiate treaties independently of the U.K., and so on)? Similar …
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Phlox Phlox 11 July 2009

TBD- mine census tables for residences

There are many tabular files on the net that have extracted information from censuses that could be easily used to upgrade articles with residence property information. KBorland created an example page (without properties) that is derived from such information in this article: 1820 Every-Name Census Reconstruction (Green Township, Harrison County Ohio). We need a bot that will do this automagically.

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Phlox Phlox 9 July 2009

Converting tables into templates transcludable into Semantic Forms

Semantic Forms documentation states that pages can be transcluded in forms. This is a great boon for templates to modularize the creation of forms, in particular complex table layouts and elements, or for internationalizing forms.

Due to the illegibility of the required format, it is best to test and create the code in a working form before converting it into the transcludable format.

  • convert table "|" pipes to
05:27, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
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Phlox Phlox 7 July 2009

Do we really need place hierarchical classification in articles?

Traditional schemes like microformats force the user to know location hierachies. A city must use the locality field, a landmark must use the extended address field, and so on. Right now, the contributor must understand a location hierarchy (see below). This is usually no problem for locations in the person's country, but is not a safe assumption for different time periods or for different locales. I just wonder if this cognitive load is necessary.

  • Country
    • Subdivision1 (constituent country in UK, oblast in Russia, and so on)
      • County (there is no classification for Regions of England, such as South West England which is both a geographic region and a governmental unit- an EU parliament consituency.)
        • Locality - can be problematic for large ci…
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Phlox Phlox 5 July 2009

Quality control- send in the clones

WorldConnect purports to have 385 million names on file. That number is a little deceptive. One might think that such voluminous records would be sufficiently comprehensive to cover at least famous individuals.

A spot check reveals this is not the case. Take known birth year, location and the first and last name:

  • Niels Bohr- not found
  • Marie Curie- not found
  • Francisco Goya- not found
  • Pablo Picasso- not found
  • Marc Chagall- not found

The quality control? Consider Isaac Cummings (1812): His occupation is Brooklyn, NY. His baptism is "M384" His emigration is "Doctor". It's junk. We could say, what the heck, we are a wiki and so someone eventually will correct these errors. Will they? We have had records on file since 2005 of articles that li…

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Robin Patterson Robin Patterson 4 July 2009


(This first section is the bulk of my Geocities page, rescued from oblivion.)

  • 1 Geocities page
  • 2 2021 update
  • 3 See also
  • 4 External links

This page is meant to gather information about the surnames FORLONG and FORLONGE, with variants such as De Forlonge and FURLONG.

I have much information about over 1000 descendants of Forlonges or Forlongs who lived in Scotland in the 18th Century.

Family tradition, backed up by a somewhat sketchy but long and partly-convincing "tree" presumed to have been drawn in the 19th Century, talks of descent from Protestant Counts of Languedoc in southern France and participation in the Battle of Jarnac and the Battle of the Boyne.

Sceptical descendants, including world-renowned (now sadly deceased) film-maker Michael Forlong…

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Robin Patterson Robin Patterson 2 July 2009

Robin's third blog?


First is on (where I migrated after MSN or some such closed).

Second is very new, on Blogger or something now owned by Google, where I can follow the Familypedia Times.

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