The Big Wik and the Painted Lady

It’s interesting to me, as I read posts, to see how comfortable people are with the ‘fast-and-loose’ character of Wikipedia.  Apparently, it’s perfectly fine that it may not be accurate or organized well.  The acceptance of this stems from it being on the internet, it seems.  And that it is sacred due to its user-generated-content status.

This thinking strikes me as being very similar to the idea that, if we are on vacation, it matters less who we sleep with.  Or how we do it.  Like.. “Well, I’m in Jamacia, what the heck.  Who will ever know?  And if they do, it will be like it doesn’t count because it’s in Jamacia.”

So, in essence, Wikipedia is like vacation sex, is it?

I say thee, nay.

It does matter.  And, forgive me here for taking a stab at the heart of 2.0, but user-generated does not necessarily mean good

Just because ‘the people’ are making themselves heard, doesn’t mean it’s inherently good.  Just check out who’s president at the moment.  The ‘people’ did that.  Twice.  Or, well, at least once, anyway.

It’s strange that I find myself on this side of this argument.  I was always quite the rebel.  And still am in many ways.

I can have tremendous problems with authority in certain situations.  But, as events in the country have shown in the last few years, the rule of the vocal mob is not necessarily going to give way to a bright future for all. 

Mainly, I blogged about this here so I wouldn’t take up the discussion forums of my class with this unpopular position.  I suspect it would have just sat there, uncommented upon, as a scathing indictment and silent protest.  But, I still wanted to get it off my chest.

As for something in my past that led me here.. how about a pic for you today as a special treat since I’ve been so cantankerous…


I was a teenager and this was something a girlfriend painted on me.  I wore it for three days.  Because it made me feel like a character in Lord of the Rings, a set I first read when I was 13 and have read every few years since.



  1. You should look at Just Another Old-Fashioned Blog if you believe that you’re the only skeptic (though your metaphor does seem to be unique!)

  2. Weinberger from our class book list makes a pretty hard sell for wikis and the democracy of the user-generated social knowledge of it all. I’m about halfway through his book “Everything is Miscellaneous” and I have to say, I’m becoming less and less of a skeptic with each chapter.
    On the other hand, in the back of my mind I’m thinking, “There’s something wrong here. Eventually, something’s gotta change for this to really work.” I can’t put my finger on it yet, but I’m with you in my current state of distrust for sites like wikipedia.
    But between reading Weinberger and your blog, I started thinking about an incident that struck me a couple of years ago. I actually still own my parents old Britannica set that was published in 1976. Now, the people who wrote Britannica and their editors etc we’re (are?) *the* authorities — for librarians, researchers, and laypeople alike, at least for general research purposes. But I found two interesting omissions in the 1976 Britannica — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. What struck me about that was that we could surely trust the information they provided, but it would be difficult to know what information was NOT provided nor any way to know the motivations behind not providing it. At least with something like wikipedia we have the opportunity to fill in the gaps where the *authorities* have missed something.
    It all kind of leaves me straddling the fence as to where my loyalties will lie — with the good old authoritative texts or the new user-generated online stuff….

  3. It sounds like Weinberger is a great writer. And, apparently, a persuasive one. But since I haven’t read it, I’m not going to try and expound on it with any authority. I CAN say, however, that the fact that your encyclopedias had omissions doesn’t really differentiate them from wikipedia – or any online, user-generated content. In one of the posts, the idea was put forth that wikipedia had a ‘liberal’ bent to its entries – and that one could find a completely different take on something in Conservapedia,, or something like that. At the very least, statistics show that computer-users, and particularly users who generate content on the web, are college educated folks. Who, as you know, are more likely to have a certain take on things. So, does wikipedia leave out information pertinent to those folks that would never even know a thing like wikipedia exists? Probably. It is less nefarious than Brittanica leaving out Malcom X and MLK? Probably. But do things get left out of both? Yes. They do.

    I think it would make me happier if Wikipedia came with a big, fat, bright yellow warning label. That way, even your average 6th grader would see it. Maybe.

    Just call me ‘Tipper’. *groan* (Is this really me? Have I gotten this old?)

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  • Playing God

    I wrote in one of my posts here that I thought of authors as God when I was a kid. And now I'm putting MY random thoughts out there for general edification. heh. Karma. As a job, being God is kind of intimidating. Thank (God) only adults are reading this. (I hope.) That way, I only have to be intimidated about being, say, a lesser cherub.