User:Lee Daniel Crocker

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At Internet Archive, 2008
Lee Daniel Crocker at Free Culture Conference, 2008

I am a computer programmer, poker player, amateur philosopher (specifically a devotee of Karl Popper), and a dilettante at just about everything else. I am Wikipedia user #43. My major accomplishment here is that I was the initial author of the current MediaWiki software, though like many free software projects it has grown far beyond my initial code. Magnus, Brion, Tim and I won the Usenix STUG award for that. For the last few years since America has gone poker-crazy, I've been earning my living at the table and haven't had much time for programming or Wiki writing, though I do still drop in here regularly. I currently work for Ansync Labs. I have a personal blog at etceterology. I am also on Facebook [1] and [2].

I am not a lawyer. I have studied the law and follow intellectual property law in particular as an involved citizen, and have strong opinions about it (as I do about everything else). Indeed, those opinions are a major reason for my involvement here. I often express those opinions here, as is my right under the first amendment. These opinions should not be construed as legal advice; you rely on my interpretations of the law at your own peril. If you want a definitive legal opinion, you should seek the advice of a licensed professional (most of whom will probably know less about the issue than I do, but who will have lobbied for laws protecting their monopoly and requiring me to post silly disclaimers like this).

Playing with my XO at Maker Faire 2008 instead of actually working in the Wikimedia booth.

I am skeptical of the value of copyrights and patents (and intellectual property law in general, except perhaps for trademarks). In particular, "All creative works or inventions original to me, Lee Daniel Crocker, are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used in whole or in part for any purpose without permission or notification." I do ask that you not claim to have created anything that I created, but most legal systems mistakenly treat attribution as an intellectual property right, so I cannot legally enforce this without claiming a copyright.

Biographical stuff[edit]

There is a recurring argument over whether I merit an actual Wikipedia bio or not, and a very strong taboo here against editing one's own bio. So here are some biographical details that someone might want to put into my bio if they feel like it, only some of which have citable printed references:

I was born in Valdosta, GA (actually Moody AFB) on July 3, 1963.

I first started using computers in the late 70s (yes, Hollerith cards and acoustic coupler teletypes) when my father was working on his MSEE at AFIT. My first personal computer was an original chiclet-keyboard Commodore PET. I later got an Apple II motherboard (back when Apple sold them as bare motherboards) which I assembled in a case consisting mostly of a cardboard box.

I have been an active participant in the Free software movement since 1988. One early project was adding features to Fractint, an MSDOS-based program for producing fractal graphics, which still exists. My own recollection is that I'm the one who suggested the name "Stone Soup Group" for its authors, but I don't have any evidence of that. Like many Fractint authors, I was active on CompuServe, a popular commercial online service at the time, when Internet access was restricted mostly to academics, the military, and a few hobbyists. I participated in discussions there on the creation of the GIF graphics format. I also attended the meeting at C-Cube Microsystems in Sunnyvale at which the JPEG file format was created. My interest in computer graphics led to the creation of Piclab, a command-line image processing utility well documented in the book Image Lab by Tim Wegner (Waite Group Press, 1992). When I did get onto the net I named my domain "" after this program.

I was employed for a brief and unproductive year at Microsoft, where I was working as a QA for Windows NT 3.1. My experience at Microsoft likely added to my enthusiasm as a free software advocate, and I have had a Microsoft-free home since 1996. I also do my best to avoid the other members of the free-software/free-culture axis of evil, Apple, Sony, and Disney.

In 1995, I was among the group of engineers creating the new PNG image file format. I created the line-by-line adaptive filtering compression method and the "sum-of-abs" heuristic method commonly used by programs writing PNG files. I appear as a co-author of RFC 2083. I had a brief involvement with the Freenet project in 2000.

Along with being a free software advocate, I have long been an advocate of copyright reform. David Brin mentions me briefly in this context in The Transparent Society, but there he also attributes to me opinions which I don't recall holding. A statement releasing all my creative works to the public domain has long been part of my email signature. Philosophically I am a Transhumanist, and more specifically Extropian. I spoke on the subject of transparency at the Extro 5 conference. I am politically a classical liberal, which is to say libertarian, but I don't like using the "L" word anymore since the big-L Libertarian party somehow managed to nominate Bob Barr for president. I was briefly the editor of a small libertarian newsletter called "Chain Breaker". I also part from the party line on a few points, most notably in my opposition to patents and copyrights, and advocacy of transparency over strong privacy. I'm also not as fanatically isolationist, and recent discoveries in behavioral economics have made me rethink even some basic assumptions of the laissez-faire model.

In 2001, I became an early user of Nupedia, and then Wikipedia, initially creating many of the articles related to Poker, my primary hobby at the time. When the rapid increase in popularity led to scalability problems with the software being used for the site (written by German student Magnus Manske), I redesigned the database schema and wrote a new PHP codebase from scratch to be more efficient, though I copied the visual design and many ideas from Magnus's code. I added many new features such as a new media system for images and sounds, user emails, and a simplified language-translation system. After the software had been running on my server for a while and tested by the community, I installed the software on what was then Wikipedia's single server, named "pliny" after Pliny the elder. I later named Wikipedia's second server "larousse", following in the historical-encyclopedists line. Today, this software (now known as Mediawiki), has been expanded by dozens of other authors to the point where there's very little of my own code left. After my software enabled it, I was the first to add sound samples to Wikipedia, in the articles for The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel.

In 2003, I left my 20-year-plus computer programming career to earn my living at the poker table. I worked for 10 years at the Phoenix Casino in Sacramento, CA. As of 2013, I'm back at the keyboard working for Ansync Labs.

Created pages[edit]

It seems to be a tradition here to list pages one has created or edited. I've long since lost track of how many pages I've edited, and many of the pages I created or overhauled no longer bear any resemblance to my original text. Also, many of my pages no longer list me in their history because I edited them in the early days of Wikipedia when edit histories were periodically deleted. But to give some sense of what I'm interested in and what my style of writing is, I list below a few pages which still contain a majority of their text written by me:

Karl Popper - Mortimer Adler - Ken Kesey - Walter Annenberg

Game theory - Playing card - Stone, Paper, Scissors - Scrabble - Poker (and many of its related pages) - Casino - Gambling - Pai gow - Pai gow poker - Chinese dominoes

Sapir-Whorf hypothesis - American and British English Differences - Lojban - Loglan - Umlaut - Ambiguity

Prisoner's dilemma - Milgram experiment - Critical philosophy - Scientific method - Prion - Probability - Scientific mythology - Selfish Gene - Meme - Reductionism - Social Darwinism

Intellectual property - Copyright - Patent - Trademark (and some related pages like Feist v. Rural) - United States Constitution - Calendar - Gregorian calendar

ASCII - Code - Character - Character encoding - Text encoding - Markup language - Unicode - wikipedia:Special characters (and several related pages) - Internet - World Wide Web - Hypertext - XML - HTML - Data compression

Interpreted language - Java programming language - Object-oriented programming (and its referenced pages Abstraction in object-oriented programming, Encapsulation in object-oriented programming, Inheritance in object-oriented programming, and Polymorphism in object-oriented programming)

Cooking - Bourbon - Cocktail - Bloody Mary - Manhattan cocktail - Martini

Ten Year Society userbox.svg This user has been editing Wikipedia for over ten years.