back to article Psychologist invents new uber-wiki

An American psychologist has invented a new form of wiki in which every word is directly linked to its author. He believes the so-called "mememoir"* project will "revolutionize publishing in all of science". The Mememoir super-attribution wiki is the brainchild of Dr Robert Hoffman, an academic psychologist at the Florida …


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  1. greg
    Thumb Up

    Hats off

    To Mr. Page. The new king of made up super-extended-mashup-nouns.

    "wiki+digg+2.0 sciento-mashup-u-like kit" = win

  2. Wonderkid

    Not the first...

    ...a few weeks ago, I was discussing with one our semantic web chaps referencing specific items of data to the 'owner' or 'author' using RDF and/or a personal version of our precision directory. Either way, this would have mind boggling consequences.

  3. Marvin the Martian

    Well, it beats the usual "psychologist invents affliction" thing.

    Dear mr. Reg,

    can you please point out which is the correct WikiPedantry-replacement-horse to bet on? Every week there's another, improved, more vetted, better, 2.0er etc version.

    This is like the bad old days where I signed up to Friendster, read that the Google-empire would triumph with Orkut, most of my acquantances went to Hyves, my younger family members to My(play)Space, and in the end only Facebook will make it? I reverted to email after a few months and haven't bothered since.

  4. Homer

    Claiming ownership of words?

    This seems rather implausible, but if this shrink claims it then it must be so, although it sounds rather "Associated (op)Press-ive" to me.

    Here goes then: I hereby claim ownership of the words "and"; "the"; "or"; "but"; "a"; "I"; "if"; "then"; "there"; "what"; "why"; "who"; "where" and "when".

    The above words are © 2008 Homer, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. No distribution or reuse without attribution as prominent as any other content attribution published on the same medium or location, subject to the terms of this license.

    Copyright violators will be punished to the fullest extent permissible under applicable law, or death by lethal injection, whichever is greater.

  5. Eugene Goodrich

    Didn't Digg already screw this up?

    Didn't Digg already prove the corruption of peer-rating voting, with that cadre of contributors whose submissions were shoo-ins because they allegedly ran scripts to vote for the submission as a number of different users? And didn't they follow this up by suspending anyone who asked pointed questions about this?

    Mine's the coat with the pockets full of link-swaps and PERL bits.

  6. Rodrigo Andrade
    Thumb Up


    Mr. Page also still holds the headline most full of WIN with his inspired "Bubbling billy-goat bursting boffinty brouhaha at MoD" from a while ago.

    Points for originality on that one as well, as many tried to impress the same repeating initials technique but were not so great.

  7. Dave Stark


    I feel an evening of removing the word 'not' from article text is in order.

    You can't link what's not there, now can you...

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Its been done...done...done...

    Sounds like a piece of the Xanadu project.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    every word is a link to the person who wrote it?

    a an the it they you he she these those who which that nothing no some any much in toward up with out off near down, etc.

    I can hardly wait to see this.

  10. call me scruffy

    Thanks for that!

    After two weeks without seing the good BOFH in action it's good to see a piece of management buzzord candy that we can scoff at without his help.

    So, community consensus reputation... that means that withihn a few years all the wanabe achademics who have nothing to do all night but wiki-the-night-away will have cast iron reputations, call rough-shod over everyone else. as has happened... erm... can anyone give me an example of it not happening? And as for tracking every word, is this going to be back to the most recent person who editted it to make it "read better", or actually back to the person who first expressed enterred that word?

    Ah well, let him put it live, let it sink without trace, and let's get on with our beer.

  11. Peyton

    This is the best MIT can do these days??

    Ooh ooh - where do I sign up - my name is "Dr Robert Hoffman" pls

    Scientists already have to attach their name to anything they publish... oh wait, he means when they publish via wiki. O_o?! Didn't know that happened (and god forbid we move to it). Sounds like a way for academic bickering to join the web 2.0 era :\

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a stupid^h^h^h^h^h idea that is!

    Erm, when people mislead me they:

    1. Say things that are not true, the easiest form of deception to spot. (This wiki helps)

    2. Omit important facts (omit info from their part) this wiki doesn't tell me squat about what the people are withholding.

    3. Try to suppress discussion they disagree with (i.e. suppress info from my part by deleting it or swamping it in verbage)

    4. Frame the discussion, e.g. introduce a flame designed to draw the discussion down a path, like how the people who agree with Jacqui Smith's Curfew policy are fat old women with have lots of cats because they don't interact with humans.

    Yeh, anyway back to Jacqui... how come they interview fat old women with cats and ask them if a policy designed to fix anti-social behaviour has worked or not. By definition she's a fat old anti-social women who swaps cats for people. Even the director of photography frames her with her cats to give you the hint as to the smell. If you follow her advice you end up like her. Sad and alone surrounded by kittly litter!

    See what I mean by frame the discussion?

  13. Lol Whibley
    IT Angle

    and yet

    you balked at mememoir?


  14. Hrishikesh

    How long before we get

    a meme of moirs?

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Bagsy "and"

    no returns

  16. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    I read it...


    But that's just me me me me.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Not far enough

    I think this is ludicrous. It reminds me of the shaving blade systems - who will be the first to release a ground breaking, revolutionary 12 blade system?

    If getting to more detail is better then perhaps each letter should be attributable back to an author? Maybe we should pop a hex editor and allow individual bits to be reviewed.

    Lets not be forgetting the punctuation as well. I am sure we have all had fun moving commas around other peoples writing to change the meaning.

    As for capitalising sheesh.

    I'll be off then.

  18. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Upping the Ante and Raising the Stakes .....and in this Case, QuITe Titanic be they.

    "Claiming ownership of words? "...... By Homer Posted Friday 29th August 2008 17:26 GMT .... is not nearly as important/is nowhere nearly as important as getting them to Work for All through Third Party Proxies ......

    Then are they Absolutely Priceless

    And for the Registered PreCogniscenti .... El Reg Illuminati ..... would that be a piece/packet in the Cinderella RockerFeller Project Tendering to ITs Sin der Elle Programs........ Xanadu In Deed, Indeed, AC [Posted Friday 29th August 2008 18:11 GMT]

    A Good Fellas MetaDataMorphosis for MainLine XXXXStreaming of OverArching Underground MemeMoires?

    "After two weeks without seing the good BOFH in action it's good..." By call me scruffy

    Posted Friday 29th August 2008 18:17 GMT

    Err...Thanks for that! ?. ...... for while the Cats away the Mice will Play.

    Dr Robert isn't by any chance related to Dr Albert, is he? If that were to be a positive Yes, well ....... a Good Trip could be Guaranteed Every Time by just following the Packet Instructions .....ITs PreScription.

  19. Frumious Bandersnatch

    claiming ownership of words

    I think he should have called it "mememoire" by analogy to "armoire"... but then that probably nixes the "personal ownership" idea that "mememoir" suggests. Tux, cos he can have this idea for free.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    changing the past if fun.

    how long before George Bushes wiki says 'he was one of the most respected presidents ever.' 'praised by all parties for his effecient and correct responses to internal and global tradgedies.' 'Despite opposition to the war in iraq - which was definetely never ever and never claimed to be based on finding weapons of mass destruction - he removed a dictator and restored democracy and freedom to a previously war torn region.'


  21. ratfox
    Paris Hilton

    I want to be professor in psychology too

    Where do I sign? I've got plenty of crackpot ideas!

    Paris, because she'll be teaching psychology anytime soon...

  22. Francis Boyle

    I'd make a comment

    But the Moderatix might take my words out of context. . .

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    O RLY? He haves a web 2.0! NO WAI! He's pwnd - and I'd hit the FAIL.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    sounds like...

    a piece of cr@p...

    I'm quite fond of the anonymity of many of the stupid words I may utter on the web...


    John Smith

  25. Simon
    Thumb Down

    I don't see how this will help

    Look up something like Rape of Nanking on wikipedia, the English version and the Japanese version are RADICALLY different, and the Japanese version is locked because foreign people keep trying to correct it and japanese people who deny the event took place change it back.

    The biggest problem seems to be bias.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Yep, the bane of Wikis. My wife and I love Wikipedia, but we mainly look up stuff like "toast" and "marmot". Things that are easily verifiable and noncontroversial tend to be pretty accurate (except for the article on the chipmunk, in which someone wrote that the venom from a single chipmunk bite could kill a grown man).

    But you do have to look out for things you would expect to be noncontroversial, but which actually are - the discussion page for 'salami' was a pockmarked battlefield between those contesting the supremacy of two different ethnic version of salami, and the people desperately trying to shut the first two up. It was amusing, and the only things at issue were subjectives like, "XXXX salami is regarded as the original", but it was still pretty funny.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Most systems already do this.

    Look what I have invented, I call it Oxygen 1 Hydrogen 2, it is incredible it is everywhere but no one noticed. Look at most wikis or in most databases and you will see accountability built in, this guy is a charlaton or just very dim, possibly both.

  28. Gabor Laszlo

    "the venom from a single chipmunk bite could kill a grown man"

    You owe me a new keyboard mate! And a cup of coffee.

  29. TeeCee Gold badge

    Every word is directly linked to its author.

    One word - flatulance.

    If they can make it work for that one it'll nip a few arguments in the bud.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what about removing words?

    If I added "Lewis Page is not a wanker" and someone edits out the "not"?

  31. Steve

    This is the greatest thing that could happen to science!

    It'll help distinguish all those psychologists from the real scientists. Maybe I'm being a bit harsh, but they seem to spend a lot of time coming up with conclusions that are just tautology and I've yet to meet on that can read a graph properly.

  32. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    OK, I'm too late for the party, but...

    ...the stupidity of this idea has been like an itch, and I think I've just figured out where to scratch.

    "Hoffman argues that it's difficult to tell who's said what on an ordinary,

    intensively-edited wiki page. "How could the reader of such an article

    know who wrote what," he asks."

    How indeed? But the whole point is that you don't care. Wikipedia is not a reference. It is a search engine.

    Where the likes of Google have used millions of CPUs acting under the guiding influence of just a few brains, Wikipedia have used millions of brains acting under the guiding influence of natural generosity, bitterness and hormones. In both cases the system can be "gamed" by anyone sufficiently devoid of a life that they can be bothered.

    However, in both cases you end up with a web page where you can type in a couple of words and be taken to a summary page of places (elsewhere on the web) where you might find information on that topic written by someone with a clue. The Wiki results page even includes a few introductory paragraphs written by the search engine itself. That makes it more user-friendly, but obviously you take those with a pinch of salt.

    Taken together, the point is that you don't care who built the search engine. For science you shouldn't even care who wrote the articles it points to. I note that Dr Hoffman is a psychologist. That probably puts him on the edge of the scientific world, a barren hinterland frequently raided by relativists and sociologists. Perhaps he has "gone native".

  33. Dr Patrick J R Harkin



    There, I said it, and I claim ownership. All words containing my letter 'e' must now acknowledge their debt to me. Now I'm not greedy, and there will be no charge for using my letter, but I do reserve the right to bundle advertisements with it in future. Or in other words which contain it.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: OK, I'm too late for the party, but...


    "Taken together, the point is that you don't care who built the search engine. For science you shouldn't even care who wrote the articles it points to. I note that Dr Hoffman is a psychologist. That probably puts him on the edge of the scientific world, a barren hinterland frequently raided by relativists and sociologists. Perhaps he has "gone native"."

    No, the problem is quite the opposite -- Hoffman is blinkered by scientific convention. In academia, who wrote what is important. Every scientific paper -- even an introductory text -- is riddled with quotes, paraphrases and references. However, your comparison of Wikipedians to Google's algorithm is spot on -- these are not world-leading thinkers, they are mere processing units, so what does it matter which processing unit did what? Are they going to identify "defective" processing units and replace them? That would require knowing the truth outside the system -- and we wouldn't have designed a system to accumulate the truth if we already had access to a prime source of truth, would we?

  35. Anthony Steele
    Thumb Down

    Neither new or important

    Source control tools like SVN and TFs already have tools to go through the history and attribute each word to a particular revision by an author at a particular time.

    This is not new. And it's not that big a deal. Wikipedia keeps this information in the history, but at present you may have to do a lot of processing to extract it.

    If this guy thinks it's a breakthrough, he's a twit and doesn't need reporters to take him seriously.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Orgone accumulator / cerebral vibrator

    "My wife and I love Wikipedia, but we mainly look up stuff like "toast" and "marmot"."

    Toast is a foodstuff made of bread that is toasted (warmed) in a device such as a toaster although it can also be grilled (warmed) in addition to other devices. In the West it is arguably considered by many people to frequently be eaten with peanut butter and jelly on Thanksgiving Day. It appears in an episode of Futurama where Bender has some toast. In America's Funniest Car Crashes #12 on the Discovery Channel there was a short segment in which a car slipped on some toast. In the episode of The Simpsons with the snowplow Homer has some toast before he appears on television. In S1E2 of Family Guy, one of the characters makes reference to toast. In Homestar Runner toast is frequently eaten by the main character. In Cowboy Bebo: The Movie ETC ETC ETC List of 12" singles

  37. JohnH

    Toast: Defined...

    Toast is what a grown man bitten by a chipmunk becomes...

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Toasting Marmots?

    @David Wiernicki

    Isn't anyone else bothered by someone who looks up both Toast and Marmot?

    Do you use a long skewer, a fork or one of those cage thingies that squishes them out for a nice crispy finish?

  39. The Other Steve

    If you build it...

    ... they will, erm, well, probably ignore it.

    In all fairness, I only actually know one proper scientist, but it seems to me that as a genus, they would much prefer to have their work published in (e.g.) "Nature" than on some wankywiki thought up by yet another MIT space cadet desperate to prove that MIT's reputation for being "whacky" can somehow carry them along without the need to actually, you know, do any science.

    I mean seriously, does this guy really think he can replace an established (and deeply entrenched) process for scientific publishing and peer review that scientists (if no one else) have been happy with for the better part of three hundred years, by turning up one day with a crazy look in his eye and saying "Look ! I builded a intraweb site !!!".

    Someone wipe the drool off him and send him home to Florida before the Boston winters do for the rest of his sanity. Or is this just an example of the US academic community using MIT as it's de facto asylum ?

  40. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Re: OK, I'm too late for the party, but...

    I wrote: "For science you shouldn't even care who wrote the articles it points to." to which AC replied...

    "No, the problem is quite the opposite -- Hoffman is blinkered by scientific convention. In academia, who wrote what is important. Every scientific paper -- even an introductory text -- is riddled with quotes, paraphrases and references."

    Ah yes. Good point. My immediate reaction is that you've failed to distinguish between the process of research (where accurate attribution is important both technically and socially) and the product of that process (which *ought* to be verifiable by that fiction we call the unbiased observer) but of course, it is Hoffman who is confused, not you. :)

    So it's Golem 2.0. For those unfamiliar with the reference, a sociologist called Harry Collins wrote "The Golem: What Everyone Should Know about Science", which argued/assumed that science is no better than the frail, flawed scientists who produce it, thereby completely missing the point of the scientific method. He'd doubtless use "argued", but I've read the book and quite frankly would use "assumed". It's a painful read. Several hundred pages of missing the point.

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