(Close Window)
Topic: Puzzle with consequences
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jul 21, 2005 07:13AM)
A recent finding on the widipedia includes a discussion of Paul Curry's Out of This World.

There are arguments for publicly accessible magic books and information. One of the most compelling comes from the "progress is good" utilitarian approach.

There are also arguments against, most of which come from the "our little secrets" approach which was soundly defeated by pointing out the Angelo Lewis (professor Hoffmann) books being public domain. Likewise the "proprietary information" approach looks doubtful with things like [i]Expert Card Technique[/i] and more recent examples clearly demonstrating that our culture has no ethical problems taking people's private material into print without permission of the inventor.

The conundrum is fairly obvious. And it's only the fate of magic's secrets at stake.

Your input and preferably a solution to this would be appreciated.

A solution to the issue as presented would be a cogent argument against having magic's secrets on the internet.

Please put your solution(s) on either the public or secret sessions threads.

Message: Posted by: Vandy Grift (Jul 21, 2005 02:53PM)
I've been watching that discussion. I know how I feel about it, but don't think I could make a cogent argument against having magic's secrets on the internet.
Message: Posted by: cataquet (Jul 27, 2005 01:22PM)
Magic works as entertainment because the method (and frequently the ending) is a secret. If you know the method/ending, magic has less of an impact (think of David Williamson's Rocky the second time you saw it). That's why, when I watch another magician, I have to put myself in the proper mode (the choices being: watch, analyze, or criticize).

So, if you preserve the secrets of magic, you also preserve magic as entertainment (although many will still continue to perform magic as a puzzle). It's exactly like the legend of Santa Claus. Ask Jeeves "Is Santa Claus Real?" and you won't find a straight answer. That secret is preserved. If you ask "How did David Blaine?", you get a whole list of sites with instant explanations. The secrets are not preserved.

One terrorist solution would be to populate the world with preposterous explanations, and such websites exist. I think magic will continue to exist despite these exposures.
Message: Posted by: Vandy Grift (Jul 27, 2005 02:39PM)

I'm not sure if you were adressing me. I may not have made myself clear in my post. I don't like magic exposure on the internet. I just don't know how to make the argument against it. I wish it wouldn't happen but as Jonathan showed there are a couple of arguments. I could probably argue either side because there are points to be made on both sides. I was simply saying I myself probably couldn't make a strong enough argument against it. I don't like it, wish it wouldn't happen but I don't know if I could come up with a solution for it. Jonathan suggested that a solution "would be a cogent argument against having magic's secrets on the internet" I don't think I'm smart enough to come up with that solution.

I suppose we could just appeal to peoples sense of decency and respect for an art form, but how far do you think that would get us?

Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jul 28, 2005 10:40AM)
What would happen if Dean's Explosion went up there, complete with description of the gaffs?

Or, better yet, a public discussion of USPC's printing gaffed cards in bicycle design with discussions of the applicaions. Perhaps an article on "magic cards" would do the trick for this community.

Given the number of solutions offered so far, it seems plain text is sufficient to stump our best and brightest.

Remember to post your solutions in the form of a cogent argument for or against the open descriptoin magical principles, devices and applications on the Wiki. The most compelling argument may help save all of our methodology from going public domain.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hallahan (Jul 29, 2005 06:48PM)
Good idea Jonathan.

I see why you seek an cogent argument. All I can supply is an ardent appeal. It will motivate only those who aren't overcome with greed and/or pride.

Magicians generally should temper their anger when dealing with this type of exposer so that they don't create strong opposition. It helps to realize the problem isn't as bad as it could be. Many, perhaps most, people don't care about magic secrets. But, of course, it is a problem, even if limited.

In the United States, we're all taught about the benefits of a free press. It's a touchy subject when anyone implies someone shouldn't write something that's both true and already published. Only a friendly approach will have any chance of being effective.

Personal appeals by those magician's actually affected by exposure in the form of, "Please don't expose this, I use X in my show (or I sell this) and the following bad things have happened to me ..., can you please help by ..." This should move all but cold-hearted individuals. Unfortunately, these people exist and there's no stopping them, other than not publishing a secret at all. For the information that's already "out there," those who don't care won't be moved by the threat of withholding publication, and it obviously can't be used as a bargaining chip.

I could go on about the dissolution of the family and the lack of limits on some children. That issue, like exposure, is timeless but on the rise, and not just by numbers but also by percentage of the population. As long as people don't care about people in general, they won't care about the plight of magicians.

I'm not as cynical as I seem from that last paragraph. It's always a minority who create the majority of strife. I almost want to write, "Don't worry, be happy!", but of course a constant opposing force to prevent damage to others is necessary. As you realize, all we can really do about Wikopedia is nicely explain why this causes damage to the experience of those who view magic, hurts both the livelihood and the art of those who perform it, and hope they are reasonable people.

One other good thing - I learned virtually all magic principles and a great many routines as a child from books from a few different public libraries. Apparently most people bypass the word "magic" in the card catalog. The Internet is only a little easier to search than a card catalog, and much more disorganized. Few will stumble on this part of Wikopedia. As long as magicians don't announce the published names for the routines they perform, most people won't be able to find the secrets on the Internet, at least not on Wikopedia. Some of the places that sell magic are much more of a problem, but at least they incur some cost for the secret.

I'll be back when I've organized my thoughts enough to write a reasonable plea. Wording is very important. Also, if the plea had the backing of a large group instead of one individual, it would be somewhat more persuasive, although then it's important to make sure that the plea isn't threatening in any way. I'm not against boycott's, or implied non-violent legal threats, but there is simply nothing that we can really do to Wikopedia. They are a huge community that prides themselves on their openness. It's best to have them on our side.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jul 29, 2005 08:39PM)
I was thinking of putting an entry on Wiki about Santa Clause and a similar entry about Jesus. Perhaps one about Moses?

Those proper names are part of stories that serve a purpose in society. The stories encapsulate lessons and also a great mystery.

To take those stories out of context leads to unexpected interpretations. Santa is not a Teutonic war god out to recruit the "bad" or ... Likewise Moses was not a guy who decided to "harden the heart of Pharaoh and bring devastation to Egypt". And Jesus is not a story about how anyone who tries to live by a better ethos will wind up crucified or worse. Borges might be amused. The casual reader might be horrified. I saw an amusing review of "The Wizard of Oz" where the plot was described something like: Petulant young woman uses house as weapon to destabilize idyllic magical community and ultimately overthrows the local government before using stolen artifacts to flee.

Similarly magic is not about tricks, but about the inner experience that comes with watching the tricks.

See if something like that might fly.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hallahan (Jul 29, 2005 09:33PM)
TV listing for the "Wizard of Oz" in the Marin, California newspaper:
Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets and then teams up with three complete stangers to kill again.
Similar, but somewhat greater emotional impact. Yes, we must use spin! :lol:

No, I really do get what you mean. I was thinking of how to convince the reader and I recalled the following quotation as I drove home tonight:
"It's in the very trickery that it pleases me. But show me how the trick is done, and I have lost my interest therein."
- Seneca the Younger, In his 45th Epistle to Lucilius (4 B.C.-A.D. 65)
Sadly, the easiest way to make someone feel the reality of that is to show them something magical and then to expose it. Not a tenable solution at all. We'll just have to settle for the written word and hope.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Aug 5, 2005 09:40AM)
How are you doing with this puzzle?

What would hurt so very much to see posted that you would feel compelled to get a compelling argument together?
Message: Posted by: Vandy Grift (Aug 5, 2005 02:49PM)
That's a good question. Now you are making me think. Actually there are quite a few things.
Message: Posted by: honus (Aug 10, 2005 10:58AM)
On 2005-07-21 08:13, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
A recent finding on the widipedia includes a discussion of Paul Curry's Out of This World.Please put your solution(s) on either the public or secret sessions threads.

One solution:

Look fast, they'll probably change it back soon.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Aug 10, 2005 12:11PM)
Yes, obviously not a solution to the problem and also not a respectful thing to do on the Wiki.

Try harder.... how would you argue against a post about bicycle gaffed cards made by USPC?
Message: Posted by: Ryan Delaney (Aug 17, 2005 07:13AM)
Hello everyone. Jonathan Townsend invited me to comment on this dispute. First a brief introduction: I'm a Wikipedia editor of about a year, with around 3200 edits. I was recently promoted to the status of sysop, which doesn't infer on me any special authority besides a few janitorial powers (such as the ability to delete articles, protect articles, and block problem users).

I am not personally involved in this dispute, but I am interested in seeing it resolved amicably. Since many people outside of the Wikipedia project are unfamiliar with Wiki philosophy, I would like to give you a few general pointers on how best to interact with Wikipedians. Bill Hallahan's advice is good, but I have a few things I would like to emphatically add.

First, and by far most important, DO NOT under any circumstances vandalise any Wikipedia web page, or engage in "revert warring". Besides the fact that you will never win such a revert war, because Wikipedians take the protection of their creations very seriously, and will tend to rally others for support in disputes, it paints your side as unwilling to discuss or negotiate. I'm not accusing anyone specific of engaging in vandalism, but I am aware that there have been quite a few stubborn anonymous editors who have been going around engaging in this behavior on the magic-trick related articles. This plea is for them: Stop. You can't win, and you're just making yourself worse off, while creating a big headache for us.

This is a very serious point -- until Wikipedia users know that this vandalism is put to an end, they will not even talk to you. They will revert and block on sight, and you won't possibly get through to anyone.

Wikipedians place a high emphasis on discussion and many of them would be happy to talk this over and try to reach some kind of consensus. But what they will not accept is someone going in and attempting to enforce their own view for what is seen as personal gain. This leads to my next point.

Be aware that although Wikipedia has an explicit policy of always welcoming newcomers, Wikipedians will be suspicious of edits made by a group of people for what is seen to be a selfish interest rather than the improvement of the encyclopedia. This leads many "Wikipedians", and administrators especially, to cast a doubtful eye on a group of people who never bothered to contribute to Wikipedia except when they felt they had something personal to lose.

Simply put, you have to become part of the project if you want to get anything changed. Right now, Wikipedia editors see your side as an outside influence trying to come in and change things for their own interest, rather than actually engaging in the Wiki and what it's all about.

A good way to combat this problem is to start by registering your own user name, if you haven't already. Edits to articles by anonymous users are accepted, but frequently, and *talk page* discussion (including participation in votes for deletion, etc) by anons tends to get ignored, mostly because IP addresses are unrecognizable. Once you have a name attached to what you say, and some identifying information on your user page, it will be easier to get some real conversation going.

Then, you can go into the WikiProject:Magic page and *politely* raise your concerns. Try to explain why you think the current practice on Wikipedia is undesirable, and suggest constructive solutions. Listen to what people have to say and engage their ideas.

Finally, always remember to assume good faith: After all, the people on the other side of the debate are not acting out of malice, either- they think they are doing a great service. We're all good and reasonable people here.

Personally, my instinct as a Wikipedia editor is that it's not likely the community will be persuaded to take the magic secrets down. Most Wikipedians will probably be persuaded that if a person does not want to know the secret behind a trick, that he or she should simply not read the article about it. But it's possible that some compromise could be reached, if both sides are able to meet and discuss this rationally.

Since, as I said, I do not have a personal interest either side, I would be happy to take a look at any such discussion process and act as a mediator upon request.

Thanks for reading, and please direct any further questions or comments to my talk page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Ryan_Delaney) because I might not be able to check this page again.
Message: Posted by: mike paris (Aug 17, 2005 10:24AM)
Magic has been exposed for many many years,you go to the library and there are books on magic (thankfully not many) and in many respects this is how a lot of people have started their journey,us having this special knowledge and following the trail to magic shops ,societies and books.(how would we have found our way? 30 years ago there were hardly any magic shops,only some joke shops ) Its been there all along but very few followed the trail.Now however the internet has made everything so available,just type in what you want and it,s there.What also annoys me,many years ago Robert Harbin came to our magic club(i wasn,t aware of how famous he was) he produced a book giving magicians who purchased it permission to build and use HIS inventions for their own shows,what happened ?the dealers bought a copy and mass produced his effects.A lot of people have made a lot of money at the expense of others.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Aug 17, 2005 05:39PM)
Yes, Mike what you say is true. Do you have some suggestions?
Message: Posted by: mike paris (Aug 17, 2005 06:04PM)
There are a few answers,if a trick that you perform gets exposed,then the easy answer is to drop it from your routines,that way you don,t have to justify yourself (on no that,s not the way I do it).Don,t forget Magic is not only about how clever we are, its about entertainment,A lot of tricks that get exposed soon get forgotten about,there are so many ways to do a trick,take for example the sawing a lady in half,just because someone knows one version,and someone sees another version ,and says, I KNOW HOW ITS DONE ,soon realises oh I thought???????.My opinion is to let it lie ,if you add fuel to the fire it grows.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Aug 17, 2005 06:40PM)
Mike, please have a look in the wikipedia. The trick "Out of this World" is there now, and the ambitious card. Folks are putting tricks online in an encyclopedia. Do you have any feelings or suggestions about this phenomenon?

here is a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Out_of_This_World_%28card_trick%29#The_Secret
Message: Posted by: mike paris (Aug 18, 2005 04:51AM)
Jonathan,people who want to learn Magic,are people like us,lets face it ,its not an easy art,and unless someone is seriously interested in learning Magic they have to READ instructions from a book which to a lot of newbies is not straightforward considering the terminology.I agree exposure is bad,it,s one of the reasons why I quit The Magic Circle in london (members exposing on tv were not being expelled as according to the rules).Another problem which is just as bad,people who think they are Magicians (not enough experience) destroy the illusion of Magic due to a lack of practice and study of the art.Magic has GROWN due to TV, magic box sets and local performers.Exposure is not nice,its something which is not going to go away.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Aug 18, 2005 02:00PM)
Okay Mike, thanks, I feel like writing now. What shall it be, Triumph or Thumb Tip?
Message: Posted by: Vandy Grift (Aug 18, 2005 02:07PM)

Ryan says his feeling is that the wiki community will not be persuaded to change thier policy. What argument can we possible off to people who have no love of magic? And frankly, might get a kick out of infuriating magicians. It seems like a big game. As I said above, I suppose we could just appeal to peoples sense of decency and respect for an art form, but how far do you think that would get us? How many people over there would need to be persuaded to make a change? all of them?

I'm concerned but I am at a loss here.

Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Aug 18, 2005 02:53PM)
This is as far as I've gotten: post the effect and some of its history, and cite a publication for its mechanics. I did something close to that in an edit on the Hindu Sands / Sands of the Nile page. I was looking at writing up the Triumph effect, and am waiting till I feel collected enough to post some of the history in a way that will be useful.