Flood Control

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Oh Lordy The Internet

I've just finished watching that CSI episode about furries. I strongly wish I hadn't.

Apparantly Wikipedia has become the Internet's new whipping boy. I believe it started with a blog post made by one Nicholas Carr. He says, basically, that the properties given to new technologies like blogging, wikis and the like often go past their actual code and ascend into something like a religious experience, but when you get right down to it it's still basically amateur hour at the Roxbury, and it shows. He gives examples of articles picked at random which are basically regurgitated facts on a checklist instead of a quality source. He also uses the word 'echolalia', which I first heard in a Something for Kate song. (He uses it right around the point where he accuses the blogosphere in general of championing opinion over facts, so I guess that my Something for Kate anecdote took priority over what the word 'echolalia' actually means is telling. It's the repeating of things other people have said, both as a baby learning the native language and as a sufferer of autism, say.)

This sort of post wouldn't be new - there's been some dissatisfaction with Wikipedia brewing for some time now that I've been aware of, but what's different here is that the founder of Wikipedia publically acknowledge that the two linked articles were basically rubbish and needed to be improved, and this seems to have opened the floodgates. I still have lingering dissatisfactions with Wikipedia - their model for attracting experts relies on the experts coming to see something else on Wikipedia, so until an expert comes along it's written by people who don't entirely know what they're talking about; they have real problems with deciding what's worthy of inclusion and what isn't (why is there a three page article with pictures on Ultra Girl?) and what's worthy of attention and what isn't; keeping whichever phrasing or factoid you personally subscribe to is not a matter of finding the facts to support your argument than it is staying up all night reverting the article to 'your' version; enthusiasm is as much, if not more important, than expertise, and the two are not necessarily linked, so to actually get a good article you need to get an enthusiastic expert for every subject, and that enthusiasm can be easily killed if one has to deal with administrative bullshit just to make things right; and it's a big project, which means there is a lot of administrative bullshit to avoid the ability to control things. Royal fiat is not always a bad thing.

I'm sorely tempted to create a user on Wikipedia and see how much damage I can do by abusing the systems they have in place. I reckon I could get pretty far putting up votes for deletion on as many pages as I can and getting into edit wars over things I know nothing about. I understand Wikipedia has a policy of 'assuming good faith', so I wonder how well they'll pick up someone who isn't acting in good faith but is more interesting in finding flaws in the system and having Wikipedia damage itself than doing it directly.

I was going to write about Scientologists, but I have a short attention spooh look pretty butterfly! Come here butterfly!


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