User:MichaelMcGuffin

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Michael J. McGuffin, Ph.D.

My real homepage: Michael J. McGuffin's homepage at DGP lab

I am a computer science researcher currently (2007) at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto, Canada. My professional interests are in human-computer interaction and visualization.

I've been making contributions to Wikipedia since June 2004, including:

Editing articles on the Wikipedia is a fun way to procrastinate and learn about collaborative editing. I find the user interface for browsing and editing the Wikipedia very nicely designed.

I am both impressed by the (apparent) quality of some articles in the Wikipedia, and discouraged by the patchiness and presence of errors in articles related to my own expertise. Especially problematic are errors that are subtle and/or stated with confidence, and would probably pass as believable to a non-expert. Although I do have fun spending time editing and improving articles, the ones in my area still leave a lot to be desired. Therefore, I do not endorse the accuracy, quality, coverage, or authority of any Wikipedia articles, even those heavily edited by me, since I can only commit limited time to this effort.

I normally prefer to be fairly careful in my technical writings, but in the case of the Wikipedia, I have tried to embrace the Wikipedia's philisophy of small, incremental, immediate improvements, even when these may leave many errors still present in an article. For more on this philosophy, see


Update (August 2004): I've realized that there's more to the wikipedia than contributing and polishing articles in one's own area(s) of expertise. The wikipedia can serve as a shared place for storing all sorts of tidbits of information. For example, if you discover an interesting website, rather than bookmark it in your private files, consider finding an appropriate article in the wikipedia and adding a link to the site. You'll still be able to find the link at a later date, and in addition you'll be sharing it with anyone else who reads the wikipedia article. Another example: if you have a question about something, and can't find the answer online easily, rather than posting your question to a newsgroup, why not add the question to the discussion section of an appropriate article? Then, whoever answers your question can add the answer to the wikipedia article, which should be easy for you to find at a later date, and also shares the answer with future readers of the article. Another example: think back to times in your education where you've had an "aha!" moment, where you learned or gained some critical insight that allowed you to finally understand a concept which had challenged you up until then. Have you ever thought to yourself: "If only someone had explained it to me that way earlier!"? Now, you can go find an appropriate wikipedia article, and make sure it does explain things the way you had wished (while not excluding other valid ways, of course), so that some portion of future readers may benefit from your experience and hopefully understand better or faster.

An attractive feature of the wikipedia is that, any information you store in it, whether it be a carefully written, researched, and detailed article, or just a small tidbit of data, is available to both you and others in the future, and will also outlive you and the lifespan of your personal, private files. Whatever time and effort you put into gathering data will not be lost when you die, if the data is stored in a shared place and made available to others. So in a small way, wikipedians achieve immortality by committing their knowledge to the wikipedia. (I'm assuming of course that the wikipedia, or some form of it, will be around for a long time. At the very least, it will likely survive as an interesting snapshot of knowledge for future historians.)

other stuff i've edited[edit]

some interesting wikipedia articles[edit]

Geek stuff (computer science, physics, mathematics, linguistics)

Fantasy and role-playing games

Visualization / statistics stuff


"Philosophy" (of perception, consciousness, god)

Zoology

Misc

Political stuff