Monday, August 07, 2006

Goodbye, old friend

May 1993 - August 2006

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Onion and The Elephant

It seems like Wikipedia has been mentioned everywhere lately... being bashed, being defended, and, most recently being parodied.

First, there was last week's issue of The Onion, which ran a headline story titled "Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years Of American Independence: Founding Fathers, Patriots, Mr. T. Honored."

The article references a "commemorative page" for the anniversary which, among other things, "features detailed maps of the original colonies—including Narnia, the central ice deserts, and Westeros" and "links to video clips of the First Thanksgiving, hosted by YouTube."

Then, Stephen Colbert, on last night's Colbert Report, did a bit on Wikipedia during which he invited the audience to help rewrite "Wikiality" by editing the site's page on elephants to say that the number of elephants has tripled in the last six months. He then told viewers to log in to Wikipedia in about 15 minutes to see the change.

As a note about the segment on Wikipedia's Colbert page reads:
Colbert mentioned Wikipedia less than one minute ago on his show, planning for it to appear on Wikipedia in 15 minutes or so. Mr. Colbert vastly underestimated the speed of the average Wiki user. (At least the page read that way 5 minutes ago)
According to Wikipedia, the changes began to occur on the elephant page almost instantly, causing most of the site's elephant-related pages to be locked "because of recent vandalism or other disruption." It's interesting to look through the relevant page histories and discussions that have occurred in the short time since this incident ... and ironically, all of this highlights the site's strengths as an open and living resource. The incident prompted a particularly interesting comment on the site's Colbert Report page:
Although the specific example of edits against the elephants article may be considered vandalism (and reverted), it illustrates how people can easily create a modern spin on the aphorism "might makes right", or put in other terms "history is written by the victors". This distortion of reality may blend well on websites such as wikipedia, as evidenced by the wikipedia article on "Reality" itself disputing what is real by containing unverified or non-neutral claims.
Doesn't that just about say it all?