My name is Kevyn Jacobs, known to many of my friends as 'Hagrid.' I am 46 years old, and I live in Bellingham, Washington, USA. I teach computer literacy, Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint to the unemployed, and am a computer tutor and tech coach as well.
I am an alumni of Western Washington University with a B.A. in General Studies, with an emphasis on Technical Communication, New Media Management, Editing, Journalism, Layout and Graphic Design, and International Studies. I also studied at Kansas State University, the University of Louisville - Ft. Knox, Elizabethtown Community College, and Semester at Sea F '97. I graduated from Ft. Knox High School in 1986, and also attended Silver Valley High.
Ethnically, I am a Volga German (Wolgadeutsche), born in Kansas. My hometown is Manhattan. I have reason to suspect some Crypto-Judaism through the paternal Jakob line, and I plan on having a genetic test done to confirm my suspicions. My maternal line is a mélange of German, Marian French, Anglo-Saxon, Black Irish and Scottish. Spiritually, I am a recovering apostate Lapsed Catholic, a Neo-Pagan, a Radical Faerie, a Pastafarian, and an Agnostic Atheist. Politically, I am a Green.
I am a native speaker of English, have a working knowledge of German (having spent a good chunk of my childhood in Nürnberg), and have studied Spanish and French at university. I'm a self-confessed Canadiophile.
I find Wikipedia addicting, and I love the fact that it's free, open-source and user-run. It has become a constant tool in my life, and I am always improving it as I explore. I constantly copy edit, creating redirects from misspellings I discover. I have a personal rule: If I come across a RedLink, I have to start the article off, even if just a stub. Right now I have these redlinks on my plate:
- Coast Guard Station Bellingham
- Haskelite Manufacturing Corporation
- PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center
All my Wikipedia edits are Public Domain
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Even though I am a good writer, I enjoy editing more than writing. Consequently, most of the work I do on Wikipedia is general-purpose editing -- copy editing, formatting, clarifying, wikifying, fixing links, creating redirects, etc.
I have done an immense amount of work on disambiguation pages in my time here. I have a knack for organizing information, and I put this skill to use in working on disambiguation pages. (Other people play solitaire on their computers; I go through pages, checking and fixing links. It's a hobby.)
Articles that I have written, or at least started
- Balurghat College
- Calf Creek culture
- CH2M HILL
- Danish modern
- Ellen (TV show)
- Fifth Third Bank
- Frontier Flying Service
- Gray Peak (Antarctica)
- Grays Peak (British Columbia)
- Miller-Motte Technical College
- Nielsen Media Research
- Olza S.A.
- Prince Albert Impact Crater
- Red Alert (novel)
- Silver Ring Thing
- The Crimson Permanent Assurance
- The Lampshade: A Holocaust Detective Story from Buchenwald to New Orleans
- Thomas Van Orden
- Van Orden v. Perry
- What They Did to Princess Paragon
Plus too many disambig and redirect pages to count.
Significant contributions to articles
- AMBER Alert
- Charter for Compassion
- Cu Chi tunnels
- George Miller Beard
- Greg Abbott
- McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky
- Supernova remnant G1.9+0.3
- Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (I used to work there)
- Texas State Capitol
- Fujiya Co.
Topics of Interest
Chronicling the Universe
- "I will tell you a great secret, Captain. Perhaps the greatest of all time. The molecules of your body are the same molecules that make up this station and the nebula outside, that burn inside the stars themselves. We are starstuff, we are the Universe made manifest, trying to figure itself out." -Delenn, Babylon 5 Episode A Distant Star
I have often felt the same way Delenn does about myself and the my role in the Universe -- that I am the Universe, a living, conscious part of the Universe, whose job it is to understand. Everything.
It's one of the primary, guiding principles in my life.
I don't have offspring, I don't particularly believe in god, at least not the way monotheists do, and I don't believe in an afterlife. None of these things that most people in my culture take for granted as giving purpose and meaning to their lives work for me.
For me, the purpose of my existence is to be the eyes, and ears, and mind of the Universe. To experience. To remember. To understand.
And part of that understanding requires chronicling, recording, and preserving that understanding. For ourselves, for our inheritors, and for the Universe itself.
That's why I am drawn to Wikipedia. It's what we are doing here. We're chronicling the Universe here.
And to a much greater degree than other encyclopedias, Wikipedia is letting the Universe do its own recording.
I like that.
Primary disambiguation pages - Why I hate them
I love disambiguation pages. I really do. I spend hours cleaning them up, fixing links to them, and adding meanings to them. I guess there's something in my nature that loves tackling ambiguity.
However, "Primary" topic disambiguations are, in my opinion, a bad idea. They are illogical, ugly and inelegant kludges.
The stated reason for their existence is that there are certain topics where one meaning dominates other meanings (which, of course there are), and that in those cases, the primary topic should get the unadorned name (which I disagree with).
The second, not-as-often stated reason is that "most" users typing in a search term are looking for meaning X, and so they should be taken straight to it, instead of having to have to go through a disambiguation page, first.
The third, usually unstated reason for their existence seems to be lazy editors, who don't want to have to go fixing a large number of links that point to their page.
I know I am in the minority in my opinion, but if I were a god, I would do away with all primary disambiguation pages, altogether, and make the primary topics use the same "TITLE (disambiguating information)" format that all the other meanings, both equal and lesser, use. In my universe, Gold would be located at Gold (element), Ambassador would be located at Ambassador (diplomacy), and 911 would be located at 911 (year). Place names that have (disambiguation) pages would be located by geography, so that Paris would be located at Paris, France, and Chicago would be located at Chicago, Illinois (Actually, Chicago is located there, but because of the silly primary topic policy, Chicago is a redirect page to it, instead of the disambiguation page it logically should be).
If a term has primacy, it should of course be listed as the first definition on a disambiguation page. But that should be enough. I think our users are smart enough to be able to take it from there.
Other reasons I dislike (disambiguation) pages:
- Decisions about what is the primary definition can be entirely subjective. For instance, a very strong argument could be made that the meaning of club is just as equally a weapon as it is a group of people, but it is the group of people who get primacy on Wikipedia. Often, I think these decisions are made simply by "which article was written first" (see my earlier comment about lazy editors not fixing links).
- Primary definitions change over time. A perfect example of this is the term "CD". Today, CD's primary definition is compact disc. Twenty-five years ago, everyone would have known you were talking about Certificate of Deposit or Civil Defense. Twenty-five years from now, CDs as a recording medium will probably be obsolete, and the primary definition might very well go back to what it was before.
- Primary definitions change from place to place. An example of this might be St. Louis, to which Wikipedia gives the city in Missouri primacy. However, if you go to Europe, I suspect if you ask someone what comes to mind first, it's probably going to be the French king. Wikipedia is often subject to charges of American-centric bias, and I think it is something that editors need to be especially sensitive to. (NOTE; Since I wrote this, St.Louis has been made into a disambiguation page. YAY! Someone saw the light!)
- Some editors use the number of links to an article to gauge which article is primary, but I think this is pretty shaky justification. That number of links is influenced by a couple of changing factors: What topics people are writing articles about, and which words editors are linking (or not linking) in their articles.
OK, enough ranting. I know I'm not going to influence any opinions here, and I've arrived at the table a couple of years to late to influence the way Wikipedia handles these issues. But I do want to state, for the record, that I personally will not create primary disambiguation pages -- any time I need to disambiguate, I'm not going to give any one term primacy. Primary definitions break the logical structure of how pages are organized in Wikipedia, adding an unneeded level of complexity, and I want no part of them.