Last week, it was discovered that a major figure in podcasting has been editing the podcasting article and removing sizable chunks of information about the contributions of others to its development. As a result, Adam Curry said the episode turned him into "the Kate Winslet of Wikipedia".
Curry, a former MTV veejay who now creates the Daily Source Code podcast, was identified as having made four edits to the article. Three of these came in quick succession on 5 February and the most recent last Wednesday, 30 November. The February edits emphasized Curry's role in the development of podcasting and removed a reference to efforts by Stephen Downes in this area. The 30 November edit, apparently prompted by Curry's mentioning the article in one of his podcasts, dropped the mention of Kevin Marks, among others.
The latest edit led to the discovery, as Marks spotted the change and traced the IP address back to Curry using whois. Curry acknowledged the edit, but said he had intended to rewrite the paragraph about Marks to incorporate his recollection of their discussions. However, Curry explained that he was "exasperated" by the wiki interface and gave up instead. He subsequently apologized to Marks for removing the information. Curry's follow-up podcast focused on giving a detailed narrative of his recollection of podcasting's history.
Meanwhile, the incident expanded into a debate among bloggers involved in podcasting about whether this was appropriate and what the real historical facts were. Rogers Cadenhead charged that Curry was trying to "remove credit from other people and inflate his role in its creation." Ewan Spence said, "I can also fully understand Curry’s actions in making sure that the public records favour his viewpoint."
The incident is part of an ongoing fight over how the roles of podcasting pioneers are publicly credited. Since the Wikipedia article is frequently cited in the media as a resource to explain this new phenomenon, it has become an important battleground. Another significant figure in podcasting, software entrepreneur Dave Winer, complained earlier this year about having been expunged from this history in a similar fashion (see archived story). The edits on that particular occasion have not been traced back to Curry, however. In fact, in his 30 November podcast, Curry himself commented sardonically, "Dave and I have almost been written out. It's all these other people who've now successfully created podcasting, and I congratulate you for doing that."
Still, Winer has been among those who think Curry promoted his contribution to podcasting at the expense of others. He took particular exception to a Wired News interview in May that billed Curry as the "Podfather". Winer commented at the time, "these lies have gone on and on, he just doesn't stop."
With this new development and the Seigenthaler incident in mind, Winer also reiterated his criticism of Wikipedia: "The bigger problem is that Wikipedia is so often considered authoritative." Curry voiced similar sentiments in his next podcast: "The whole idea of making something editable in text is just too easy" (despite his own claimed difficulty with the editing process).
The podcasting article has long been subject to heavy editing, but these events led to even greater volume. They also prompted a significant surge of edits (mixed with vandalism) to the article on Curry himself, as editors went back and forth on whether the incident should be mentioned in the article.