- - Thursday, May 17, 2012


LONDON — A small Welsh town where English King Henry V was born is about to make history again by becoming the world’s first “Wikipedia town.”

Visitors from Saturday on will be able to use smartphones to scan bar codes at points of interest in Monmouth in Wales’ southeast, instantly bringing up a Wikipedia page about the landmark on their phones, in whatever language they are set to.

Wikimedia UK - which works to support, develop and promote Wikimedia Foundation projects such as Wikipedia - says hundreds of articles about the life and history of the town will be available online in more than 26 languages, from Hindi to Hungarian.

Around 1,000 different bar-code plaques and stickers now decorate its schools, museums, historical sites and even pubs.

The project - dubbed “Monmouthpedia” - has been in the works for six months, helped along by the local council’s installation of town-wide free Wi-Fi.

Local residents and businesses have created and edited articles about Monmouth that are linked to the bar codes, while other volunteers have been translating them.


Brazil judge sentences Twitter user to 17 months

SAO PAULO — A federal judge has sentenced a former law student to 17 months in prison for using Twitter to incite prejudice and discrimination against people from Brazil’s impoverished northeast.

A court statement says that Judge Monica Camargo converted the sentence against Mayara Petruso to community service and a fine of about $250.

Ms. Petruso’s 2010 Twitter message urged people to kill northeastern Brazilians in reprisal for Dilma Rousseff’s victory in that year’s presidential election.

Residents of Brazil’s wealthier south often look down on people from the poorer northeast.

The statement says Ms. Petruso acknowledged she posted the message.

The court says Ms. Petruso can appeal the ruling. Calls to her attorneys went unanswered.


Pinterest gets $100M, led by Japan’s Rakuten

SAN FRANCISCO — Japanese online giant Rakuten announced Thursday it was leading a $100 million investment in Pinterest, a fast-growing U.S. bulletin-board-style social-media website.

Rakuten said it was joining with existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer Venture Partners, and FirstMark Capital, and “a number of angel investors.”

“The funding will allow Pinterest to continue improving its service and expanding its community globally,” a statement said.

“The investment also marks the start of a strategic partnership between Rakuten and Pinterest to help expand in Japan and into Rakuten’s 17 other global markets.”

Pinterest has become the Web’s hottest young website, particularly among women, by giving people virtual bulletin boards that they decorate with pictures showcasing interests in anything from food to sports, fashion or travel.

It had more than 11 million unique visitors in surveys earlier this year, but some see a potential for the site to be used for e-commerce. The investment comes amid intense interest in social media with Facebook’s massive public offering this week.

Hiroshi Mikitani, chief executive of Rakuten said: “While some may see e-commerce as a straightforward vending-machine-like experience, we believe it is a living process where both retailers and consumers can communicate, discover and curate to make the experience more entertaining.”

He added, “We see tremendous synergies between Pinterest’s vision and Rakuten’s model for e-commerce. Rakuten looks forward to introducing Pinterest to the Japanese market as well as other markets around the world.”

Ben Silbermann, co-founder and CEO of Pinterest, said the site seeks “to help people discover things they love, by connecting people through their shared interests. Bringing Rakuten on board gives us an amazing opportunity to move a step closer to this goal.”


More doctors ditching old prescription pads

Doctors increasingly are ditching the prescription pad. The latest count shows more than a third of the nation’s prescriptions now are electronic.

The government has been pushing doctors to e-prescribe, in part because it can be safer for patients. Drugstores don’t have to decipher messy handwriting. And ordering via computer lets the doctor see if the new drug will interact badly with one the patient already takes. Starting this year, Medicare is cutting payments to certain doctors who stick with paper.

Surescripts, the largest network for paperless prescribing, found 390,000 doctors were e-prescribing at least some last year, and more are signing up fast. Some 36 percent of all prescriptions were electronic in 2011. That’s up from 22 percent of prescriptions a year earlier.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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