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Slashdot | Has Wikipedia Peaked?
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:01 pm EDT, Oct 11, 2007

Interesting data on the Wikipedia growth curve.

Slashdot | Has Wikipedia Peaked?

Mosque of Amr: 'Did you know?' on Wikipedia
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:10 pm EDT, Aug 22, 2007

From Wikipedia's newest articles:

* ...that the Mosque of Amr" in Fustat, originally built in 642 CE, was the first mosque ever built in Egypt?


When not following Virgil's latest press , my current hobby has been writing Wikipedia articles on medieval Egyptian history. One of the articles I just created a few days ago, on the Mosque of Amr, was considered to have an interesting factoid (first mosque built in Egypt) and got listed in the "Do you know" section on the Main Page today (August 22, 2007). It's a nice bit of recognition. :) I also wrote about 90% of the article on Fustat, which has a pretty interesting story too.

I'm also looking forward to October 13, when an article that I put a *lot* of work into, will be listed as "Today's Featured Article" on the Wikipedia mainpage. FAs are a powerful status indicator in the culture of Wikipedians, and I'm pretty proud of this one. I'm also proud of the date that I requested. It means that an article I put a lot of work into, on the Knights Templar will be featured on the mainpage of Wikipedia on October 13, 2007, which will be the 700-year anniversary of 10/13/1307, the famous date (no, not the origin of the Friday the 13th legend) that King Philip IV of France simultaneously had many Templars arrested and tried for heresy. For more details, read the article. ;)

I also *may* be giving a talk on the Knights Templar at Dragon*Con. We'll see! :)

Elonka :)

Mosque of Amr: 'Did you know?' on Wikipedia

WikiScanner on the Colbert Report
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:28 am EDT, Aug 22, 2007

Grr, *I* have never been on Colbert Report. Okay, now I'm getting jealous... (j/k)

Go Virgil! Think you can get on Oprah too?

Elonka :)

WikiScanner on the Colbert Report

Wikipedia Scanner on Penny Arcade
Topic: Miscellaneous 5:45 pm EDT, Aug 20, 2007

A whole new level of fame for Virgil. He did something that made Penny Arcade. :)

Wikipedia Scanner on Penny Arcade

See Who's Editing Wikipedia - Diebold, the CIA, a Campaign
Topic: Cyber-Culture 12:29 am EDT, Aug 14, 2007

Wikipedia Scanner -- the brainchild of CalTech computation and neural-systems graduate student Virgil Griffith -- offers users a searchable database that ties millions of anonymous Wikipedia edits to organizations where those edits apparently originated, by cross-referencing the edits with data on who owns the associated block of internet IP addresses.

Virgil's on Wired. :)

(Update: Slashdotted)

See Who's Editing Wikipedia - Diebold, the CIA, a Campaign

Elonka on 'Fox and Friends', July 22, 2007
Topic: Cryptography 1:26 am EDT, Jul 23, 2007

FOX News July 22, 2007 10 MB 4-minute segment on "Fox and Friends", about the upcoming NOVAscienceNOW show

Here's an archive of my appearance on FOX News this morning.

It's such a surreal experience, being interviewed remotely on live TV. The show was broadcast from New York, but I was in St. Louis. They'd rented out a local PBS studio in downtown St. Louis, to do the live feed. I was a "talking head."

So there I am in the St. Louis studio, at 6:45 a.m. on a Sunday morning, trying to look perky even though I'd been up since 3:30 a.m. to get ready. There were two technicians in the studio, wearing headsets and outside of my vision. So I'm perched on a stool, looking into a blank camera, listening to the audio feed via an earplug. I had no visual feedback whatsoever as to whether or not I was on the air -- no red light, no monitor. For a sense of what this feels like, go sit in front a blank wall, stare at it, and try to keep your face smiling and engaged, even though you have no idea of whether or not you're even being looked at.

I also had some panic before the segment... I was supposed to meet with a makeup artist at 4:30 who was going to do my hair and makeup, but they were a no-show. So I rummaged for some makeup from my purse, brushed my hair, and went on camera "as-is". So if I look a bit windswept, well, now you know why. ;)

Looking forward to the actual Kryptos segment on PBS NOVAscienceNOW this Tuesday...

Elonka :)

Elonka on 'Fox and Friends', July 22, 2007

Kryptos Flash video at CIA website
Topic: Cryptography 1:28 pm EDT, Jul 18, 2007

The CIA has updated their website with a Flash video about Kryptos. It's got several new close-up photos, which is good, but the rest of the info is awful. They are still reproducing errors in the transcript from the old version of the website, and their historical information is appalling. It's particularly irritating considering that I've written to them several times to inform them about the errors over the years, and they still haven't fixed things.

For an example of an error, look at the transcript of Panel 4 on the CIA website. It ends "E F G H I J". The line actually ends with an "L", not a "J". Check Gillogly's pic to confirm for yourself. Or check my website transcript which is easy enough to copy/paste, and has been extensively checked and double-checked and triple-checked by the folks in the Kryptos group. I'm also unhappy about the historical information on the CIA site, like where they say that Sanborn created the artwork in collaboration with a popular fiction writer. No, he didn't. That was a plan from before he started working on the sculpture, but it never actually happened. And Sanborn has confirmed that it didn't happen. And my Kryptos FAQ covers this point as well.

Our tax dollars at work... (grumble) And this is supposed to be an intelligence agency. Sorry, this doesn't make me sleep better at night. Yes, I've had reps from the CIA contact me and say, "Well look, this means that we're concentrating on our main mission, and not on the artwork around the building." But sorry, that doesn't cut it. If the CIA can't even produce accurate information about THE SCULPTURE THAT'S IN THE MIDDLE OF THEIR OWN BUILDING, how the heck can we trust them to provide accurate information about anything else in the world??



Kryptos Flash video at CIA website Odometer - July 2007
Topic: Web Design 12:55 pm EDT, Jul 18, 2007

I'm curious to see what kind of web-traffic boost that I get from the PBS show. Other TV/radio shows have generally been a small bump -- they don't compare to the huge traffic that I get from something like a Slashdot or Wired article.

Google is still the search-engine-of-choice. However, hits from Wikipedia are also a steady presence -- they seem to come in more or less equally from multiple pages, but are only about 5% of my traffic. The majority comes from StumbleUpon, with my "Famous Unsolved Codes" page being the main draw. That's about 25% of traffic, followed by about 20% from search engines, a few percent from miscellaneous articles here and there (like Kim Zetter's "Wired" article sends me a steady stream of traffic). Also, not reflected in those numbers, are those visitors who aren't "referred" to my site, but just come in directly.

Anyway, here's the current summary:


Total 1,036,534
Average Per Day 412
Average Visit Length 3:52
Last Hour 25
Today 187
This Week 2,887


Total 2,326,425
Average Per Day 809
Average Per Visit 2.0
Last Hour 49
Today 343
This Week 5,661

Referring domains

1,070 26.8%
735 18.4%
226 5.7%
131 3.3%
109 2.7%
97 2.4%
71 1.8%
50 1.3%
46 1.2%
39 1.0%
38 1.0%
35 0.9%
19 0.5%
18 0.5%
13 0.3%
12 0.3%
10 0.3%
10 0.3%
10 0.3%

Referring webpages:
1,021 25.5%
76 1.9%
70 1.8%
69 1.7%
37 0.9%
34 0.9%
34 0.9%
23 0.6%
18 0.5%
15 0.4%
12 0.3%
12 0.3%
10 0.3%
10 0.3%
9 0.2%
9 http://search... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]

NPR Podcast on 7/19: - Elonka talks about Kryptos
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:16 pm EDT, Jul 17, 2007

July 19, 2007 - Cryptography

A discussion with cryptographer Elonka Dunin about her work including her attempts to decode the message on the "Kryptos" sculpture at the CIA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

As some of the lead-up to the NOVA show....

Thursday, 7/19, from 11 a.m. to Noon Central, I'll be interviewed on the local NPR station, KWMU. This will *not* be a national broadcast, it's more of a "podcast." Or in other words, if you have any interest, you can tune in to the live stream at They will also be re-broadcasting locally at 10 p.m., and will have the recording available on their website for about 6 months.

The show will be a one-hour talkshow called "St. Louis on the Air", and I'll be fielding phone-in questions about Kryptos and cryptography.

Caveat: These scheduled times should always be taken with a grain of salt, since things can be pre-empted depending on what else is going on in the news.


Elonka :)

NPR Podcast on 7/19: - Elonka talks about Kryptos

Kryptos on NOVAscienceNOW - July 24, 2007
Topic: Cryptography 7:00 pm EDT, Jul 16, 2007

Get out your pencils: the most mysterious of all codes in the most clandestine of all places has yet to be fully broken. "Kryptos," a coded sculpture in the courtyard of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, contains a long string of seemingly nonsensical letters that conceal a message devised by sculptor James Sanborn. Correspondent and supersleuth Chad Cohen gets cracking, covering the cipher techniques used by Sanborn and the success of amateur code breaker Jim Gillogly at reading portions of the text. The deciphered sections include a poem, a reference to something buried on CIA grounds, and an extract from an eyewitness report of the discovery of King Tut's tomb. But the beguiling last bit of the message remains a mystery. Solutions anyone?

Okay, we're within "TiVo" time-range, so I figured it was about time I blogged it. Next week, Tuesday night on NOVA, there will be a 15-minute segment on Kryptos. The documentary filmmakers did their homework on this one: There are interviews with Kryptos artist Sanborn, code expert Ed Scheidt (who designed the systems that are used on Kryptos), Jim Gillogly (first person to publicly crack parts 1-3), and yours truly, Kryptos fangirl incarnate. ;) They flew me out to DC, to film an interview at the Hirshhorn museum next to Sanborn's "Antipodes" sculpture (which has all the text of Kryptos, plus encrypted Russian text which we cracked in 2003). I'm looking forward to seeing the segment!


Elonka :)

Kryptos on NOVAscienceNOW - July 24, 2007

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