Radio show

New radio show records pilot episode about Wikipedia

Wikipedia was the topic of a one-hour radio program with Christopher Lydon recorded last Thursday for Public Radio International, featuring Jimmy Wales debating some of Wikipedia's critics.

Lydon's show, entitled "Open Source", is a new launch that aims to combine elements from blogging and other online media to capture "the sound of the Web". Its website is in the form of a blog, and those following it this past week could sort of watch the Wikipedia episode develop.

The Wikipedia entry started out as a brief note about the project, originally stating incorrectly that Wales was Wikimedia's only paid employee. The error was pointed out and corrected, and later a producer for the show added some interview notes for the scheduled guests, along with suggested questions for Lydon to ask. In its latest form, the entry has excerpts quoted from the recorded show, along with Lydon's "post-game analysis".

In his analysis, Lydon observes of Wales, "I wasn’t prepared for his laid-back modesty." He finds the critics chosen for the show, a librarian and a philosophy professor, "more memorable ... but their radio presence was stronger than their arguments". The debate itself revolved around whether Wikipedia could be considered as authoritative as traditional encyclopedias and whether it undermined efforts to encourage critical thinking among students.

The librarian, Karen Schneider, has previously been critical of Wikipedia after appearing at a conference with Wales (see archived story). She offered her own site, Librarians' Index to the Internet, as an "anti-Wikipedia", although the site is actually more a web directory than an encyclopedia or similar reference work.

Open Source will actually begin airing 30 May on WGBH in Boston and run Monday to Thursday. The program on Wikipedia is designated as the third pilot for the show, but it's not certain whether this means it would air on 1 June. In any case, live feeds of the show to other public radio affiliate stations are not scheduled to begin until 4 July. However, it is available for download from the show's website in mp3 format (49 MB).

In addition to the two critical voices, the show included author Simon Winchester, who expressed a more sympathetic view toward Wikipedia. Also interviewed on the program were David Gerard, Raul654, and Dewet Diener, a contributor to both the English and Afrikaans Wikipedias. MacGyverMagic, who was initially interviewed in preparation for the show, was unavailable at the time of the show's broadcast.


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