I was looking at the Haddock blogs aggregator and in their links gutter I came across a transcript of a presentation given at Notacon 3 (whatever that is) in April of this year by Jason Scott. You can listen to the audio if you prefer.
I tend to like the Wikipedia idea, warts and all, but this talk is a pretty compelling look at its flaws. Here are a few choice excerpts that jumped out at me:
What Wikipedia has taught us now, is that in a vacuum of politics, politics will be created. There is no vacuum of politics. People who are encountering this space where they can not lord over others for technicalities and gain power for themselves will then proceed to invoke technicalities, take power from other people. They just do this. This is what human beings do.
One of the big fallacies that people currently have is “well, even if people undo your work, at least you can see it.” It’s not true. People will go to the history of an article that’s disputed, and they will find that that history’s actually been utterly and completely purged from Wikipedia. The history is gone.
Wikipedia tends to be, at this point, the first hit for most proper and
non-proper nouns. Putting in anything gives you the Wikipedia entry. In fact, if you have Trillian, Trillian has an automatic setting so that any word you have in there that matches on Wikipedia ends up as an underlined word. You click on it, and it tells you what the answer is. To someone who’s using instant messaging, they don’t know where this entry came from when they clicked on it, they also tend to be out of date because they index it across the Trillian … and so on. So as a result, you can’t say just go in and change it, because it’s actually using older and older indexes. That’s what I mean by the concern I have, the worry that I have, when I make these big points.
One response to “Jason Scott on 'the great failure of Wikipedia'”
At last, here is Jason Scott saying what many of us have suspected for so long. Don’t get me wrong, I generally like Wikipedia, but this speech does put things into perspective. You know the saying that “History is written by the victor”? Now we get to watch the process as it goes down!