Introduction to the generalized RecentNearChanges idea

See MeatBall:ChatCircles. On that page, SunirShah suggested a RecentNearChanges? where "near" means "close to a given page in the PageGraph". That is, say you are only interested in a subset of pages in a wiki, and you only want RecentChanges for the pages which are "near" those pages.

This is one instance of a more general idea. The more general idea is a RecentChanges page which displays recent changes on pages "near" something. "Something" and "near" may be defined in various ways.

Both the current "RecentNearChanges?" on this wiki and SunirShah's scheme can be thought of as special cases with different definitions for "near".

PageClusters can be thought of the the special case where "near" means "explicitly marked using the page cluster syntax."

This is a filtering method for RecentChanges. Imagine a huge wiki with a large range of topics, like WardsWiki, or WikiPedia. You aren't interested of half the stuff that appears on RecentChanges. But now imagine that you make a list of 20 pages that you think are interesting. You would have the option to get a FilteredRecentChanges which shows only those changes on pages "near" your seed list of 20 pages (i.e. connected to them by, say, 3 or less links).

Connections to InterWiki

This is almost a more fluid generalization of the current situation. Right now, a few different wikis are interconnected with InterMap links. You could think of the totality as one big wiki with different RecentChanges "regions" being delineated by the bounds of the individual wikis. SunirShah's idea allows the RecentChanges region to be calculated on the fly for each wiki page (within a single wiki PageDatabase, but this could eventually be extended).

The other differences are that different wikis can have different wiki software and social norms. Of course, given a large enough wiki with SunirShah's idea applied, different norms might develop in different regions.



Problem: Overly inclusive

WikiPedia might work, but I'd be really skeptical about WardsWiki. Let "n" be the number of link-hops from a page. If n=1, you are almost certainly relevant. If n=2, you might be relevant. (You're going to get a lot of stuff you don't care about.) If n=3, you are almost certainly not relevant. You'd need a big seed list with n=1 or n=2.


Wiki:InformalHistoryOfProgrammingIdeas (n=0) – Wiki:ReligiousWar (n=1) – Wiki:WhyClublet (n=2) – Wiki:NearDeathExperience (n=3)

Or Consider:

Wiki:VisualBasicForApplications (n=0) – Wiki:XpLondon (n=1) – Wiki:SteveFreeman (n=2) – Wiki:DragonsTeeth (n=3)



I agree, using "shortest path" as the measure of "nearness" is too broad. You could use some related measure of "nearness" instead, though. Just think of "nearness" as an arbitrary subroutine of the form float nearnessFunction(wikiPage A, wikiPage B). We could play around with what "nearness" is until we get one that works.


Idea proximity is different depending on context

It's not going to work. WikiKM:IdeasHaveContext?. When a mind looks at an idea, it always does so with a context.

That essay uses the example of "paper." Paper is a simple idea. But we always see it from a perspective. The perspective of a thinker, the perspective of an office worker, the perspective of a mill worker, the perspective of a garbage collector. These are all different reflections on the idea of "paper."

Now let's ask ourselves: Are these reflections "near?" Or are they "far?"

Suppose you're a thinker, thinking about "paper." If that's the case, than the garbage collector's perspective on paper is "far." Very far. You don't care about recyclable vs. non-recyclable, or how it packs or how heavy it is. You're just thinking about using paper to think. And vice versa, for the garbage collector. But say you're someone who's dedicated their whole life to the study of paper. Then you are interested in all of these people's ideas. They're all "near."

On surface, we are talking about ideas. Underneath, the ideas come from perspectives and contexts. Because we operate within a perspective, it becomes invisible to us, and we think the most important thing is the idea. But in reality, the perspective is more important.

The super-principle is this:

:Pages emmanate from Wiki like Ideas emmanate from Perspectives.

Trying to fit multiple distant perspectives onto one wiki leads to fighting for pages and tactical proximity.


You have provided some good reasons for skepticism, but I still think there's enough of a chance that this RecentNearChanges? idea might work that it's worth it to try sometime.

By the way, I think the argument you made enunciates an important idea/(possible) principal that is applicable to much more than this page.


Assume that you have a big wiki, and it's all from the same perspective, context, focus. That wipes out my fear of trying to fit too many perspectives in one wiki. But assume you have one perspective, but the wiki is just still this really enormous monster of a wiki.

If you had a way of collaboratively visually arranging the pages on a shared 2D surface, then that would be a pretty good source for "near" and "far." Also, you wouldn't have to have a page appear in only one place. Perhaps on one map, you want to orient things from a particular angle, and on another map, from another- sort of like we have multiple tables of looking at a wiki. So then you could draw a cut of the organizational space with your mouse or pen or whatever, and then say, "I want everything within this area." As people add new pages, and then organize them onto the idea maps, you will receive updates as items are placed into the cut you've drawn.

I'm trying to think of ways to non-visually, automatically, come up with far and near calculations, and I'm not coming up with any. (Well, beyond the linking one.)


You may be interested in TouchGraphWikiBrowser, although it doesn't solve all of these problems. It can display the wiki, and you can shift the perspective somewhat (maybe more in the future), but the graphic isn't collaboratively maintained, and you can't draw a circle and ask people about it. – BayleShanks

Problem: Misses pages which are not integrated well

You'd also be missing a lot of stuff. When newcomers come by, and add a new page that is conceptually connected to things you care about, but they just don't know the link names- you're going to miss it.

Problem: not really creating sub-wikis

Is it really a "more fluid" version of what we already have? Granted, you can draw any arbitrary cut of the PageDatabase, and give it it's own sort of RecentChanges. But what about the namespace?

"Wiki = RecentChanges + NameSpace," not "Wiki = RecentChanges + PageDatabase." You couldn't, say, reuse names within your mini-wiki, thus I would argue it's not really a mini-wiki, and therefore not a "fluid" version of what we already have.


Well, I guess "more fluid" is a subjective term. It's true that you aren't creating different mini-wikis, but that's not what I'm aiming at. What you are doing is letting people with different interests see different views of the same wiki.

The reason I think of that as "fluid" is the MrGraphicDesigner and MrProgrammer can both hang out on the same wiki, and usually won't run into each other. Except when they are both talking about programs for graphic design. Compare to the current situation; MrGraphicDesigneer and MrProgrammer hang out on different wikis and don't meet even if they do both talk about programs for graphic design (because both GraphicDesignWiki and ProgrammingWiki have pages for programs for graphic design).

Or, the grander, more InterWiki version of the idea: GraphicDesignWiki and ProgrammingWiki are separate, but MrGraphicDesigneer and MrProgrammer both see recent changes to both pages1.


An alternative is to measure the number of distinct paths within a given distance. For example, if A → {B, C, D, Q}, B → {A, C, D, E}, C → {A, B, D, E}, D → {A, B, C, E}, then there are 3 paths from A → D and from A → E of length <= 2, but only one path from A → Q. So D and E are nearer to A than Q is, even though A directly links to Q but not to E. You'd also want to measure reverse paths, since a "definition page" that doesn't have outgoing links but has plenty of incoming links might be particularly important for a given cluster of pages.

As to the context bit, doesn't FacetWiki get at that?

Is this page well-named?

RecentRelatedChanges looks like a version of this, but with hopcount=1. I think that's a better name than re-using RecentNearChanges?.

:whereas I think the name RecentNearChanges "naturally" refers to a large space of ideas; the fact that one specific idea within that space appropriated the name is merely accidental – BayleShanks

See also WebOfTrustModeration, a similar concept which filters according to social proximity instead of proximity in the PageGraph.

we could trigger the recent near changes with a ranking on the wiki-node, see s23-wiki: recent changes of our neigbors please.







  • On Meatball:ChatCircles, SunirShah suggests RecentNearChanges?: Get RecentChanges for pages close by the PageGraph.
  • More general idea: RecentChanges for "near", by some metric.
  • RecentNearChanges? and Sunir's RecentNearChanges? just have different metrics for "near."
  • PageCluster uses explicit tags to denote "near" and far.
  • This filters RecentChanges.
  • Imagine vastly large wiki, and just using "near" specifications to get changes interesting to you.

Interwiki Connections:

  • Think of all wiki as one big wiki, just w/ different RecentChanges regions.
  • "near" is what is in the same wiki, "far" is what's outside
  • Relevant differences: different wiki software, social norms.
  • Then again, if many people used "near" to filter RecentChanges, different regions of the same wiki would develop different norms.


Link hops poor metric:

Idea proximity dependant on context:

  • IdeasHaveContext? - an idea is always considered within a context.
  • Reflections (idea-in-context) of an idea can have radically different nearness.
  • ex: paper
    • reflection: Paper from perspective of garbage collector (recyclable, non-recyclable)
    • reflection: Paper from perspective of thinker (use, reports, layout, font)
    • reflection: Paper from perspective of paper expert, academic student of "paper." (interest in all aspects)
  • Are reflections "near" or "far?"
  • Thinker <— far —> garbage collector
  • Expert – near -→ Thinker, Expert – near -→ Garbage Collector
  • Reflection is more important than idea.
    • But perspective is invisible.
  • A wiki represents a perspective, pages represent reflections of ideas.
  • Multiple perspectives, one wiki: Fighting for pages, useful proximities.
  • we need some other measure of "near"

OffTopic (to particular problem):

  • SocialArrangement? might work, negotiating "near" and "far" together over shared 2D surface.
    • Use multiple maps for different perspectives.
    • Then draw cuts with mouse or pen, in space.
    • need non-visual method (that would be Category tags and the like)
  • see also: TouchGraphWikiBrowser

Problem: Misses non-integrated pages.

  • non-integrated = doesn't link to pages by name (maybe a newcomer put it up)

(to be continued:) Problem: not really creating sub-wiki

Is page well named?

Closing notes.


1. “both pages” being GraphicDesignWiki😝rogramsForGraphicDesign and ProgrammingWiki😝rogramsForGraphicDesign

Define external redirect: CategoryUncommonWikiFeature IdeasHaveContext SocialArrangement RecentNearChanges

EditNearLinks: FacetWiki CategoryInterCommunity SunirShah TouchGraphWikiBrowser WebOfTrustModeration PageDatabase RecentRelatedChanges WardsWiki