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In the news

Collective thinking and Wikipedia

Computer scientist, composer, visual artist, and author Jaron Lanier (creator of the term "virtual reality") wrote an extensive essay for The Edge intellectual magazine, titled "Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism".

In the essay, Lanier discusses the perils of trusting the idea of "the new online collectivism" (as embodied by Wikipedia) too much, or too soon. The prologue reads:

The problem is in the way the Wikipedia has come to be regarded and used; how it's been elevated to such importance so quickly. And that is part of the larger pattern of the appeal of a new online collectivism that is nothing less than a resurgence of the idea that the collective is all-wise, that it is desirable to have influence concentrated in a bottleneck that can channel the collective with the most verity and force. This is different from representative democracy, or meritocracy. This idea has had dreadful consequences when thrust upon us from the extreme Right or the extreme Left in various historical periods. The fact that it's now being re-introduced today by prominent technologists and futurists, people who in many cases I know and like, doesn't make it any less dangerous.

It includes some ideas on how to turn collective thinking to our advantage, rather than trusting it blindly, and concludes:

The illusion that what we already have is close to good enough, or that it is alive and will fix itself, is the most dangerous illusion of all. By avoiding that nonsense, it ought to be possible to find a humanistic and practical way to maximize value of the collective on the Web without turning ourselves into idiots. The best guiding principle is to always cherish individuals first.

The article gained wider exposure through The Huffington Post (Ariana Huffington's blog), which was then picked up by Yahoo News. The post there ("The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism") led to some lively discussion in the comment section, and in various other blogs, including entries from Larry Sanger ("On some alleged hazards of “online collectivism”") and Howard Rheingold ("Collective Action is not Collectivism").

Wikipedia used in court

A California Court of Appeals has used definitions drawn from Wikipedia in an opinion for the case "Apple v. Doe" (PDF document).

As with many of the concepts in this opinion, the most authoritative and current sources of information may themselves be found on the web. Thus FireWire is described by a well-known cooperative encyclopedia as a type of serial bus interface used to connect external devices to a computer. (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (as of May 23, 2006).)

This aspect of the case was commented upon by Andrew Orlowski in The Register ("New Age judge blasts Apple"), and several others (MacDailyNews, Ars Technica, etc.)

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales receives Doctor of Laws degree

Knox College, an Illinois liberal arts college, presented Wales with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at their 2006 commencement ceremony, held on 3 June. At the ceremony, former diplomat and human trafficking opponent Shirley E. Barnes and comedian Stephen Colbert also received honorary degrees.

Copying from Wikipedia can cost a lot

On 30 May, The Oklahoma Daily (student newspaper for the University of Oklahoma) reported in the article "Plagiarism charges laid against students" that sixteen students in a history of science class had been charged with plagiarism. According to professor Katherine Tredwell, many of the students had copied entire essays from Wikipedia for their final exams.

Wikitruth editor discusses Wikipedia's failures

Australian broadsheet The Age republished an article by Andrew Orlowski originally published in the U.K.'s The Guardian. Orlowski talked with "Skip", a Wikipedia administrator and member of critic's forum Wikitruth in "Knowledge down the Googler".

While plenty of people nurse resentments against Wikipedia, having failed to win a consensus for their views, Skip's colleagues at Wikitruth have a different motivation. Branding themselves the true keepers of the flame, they argue that Wikipedia's wounds are self-inflicted and unnecessary.

Minor reporting trends

Several recently launched projects have been compared to Wikipedia, using increasingly common language:

Wall Street Journal columnist Jeremy Wagstaff lists more at in his LOOSE wire blog, in The New Cliche: "It's the Wikipedia of...".

Also, more press releases, news articles, and blogs are reporting their subject having "an article of its own in Wikipedia" as a newsworthy fact in and of itself ([1], [2]). Similarly, mention of relevant vandalism of a given article is starting to appear in occasional news articles as well ([3]).

Overview articles

Malaysian newspaper The Malay Mail included "The enlightened encyclopaedia", a positive article which touches on the multiple languages in the Wikipedia site, other Wikimedia projects, and the "anti-elitism" problem.

The Seattle Times published a thoughtful examination of Wikipedia in "Wikipedia can be useful tool". Its only error was the notion that "New articles [...] are first posted for preliminary review before publishing in the encyclopedia where anyone can edit them."

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== Reprint mentioned as new ==

Uh, folks? "Wikitruth editor discusses Wikipedia's failures" - that is a straight reprint from the Guardian. - Ta bu shi da yu 08:23, 6 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]

The article is even referenced in Andrew Orlowski, from the Guardian, April 13, 2006: "A thirst for knowledge" Casey Abell 19:11, 6 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Actually, the article even sources The Guardian- scroll down to the very end, and notice the eeny-weeny "-the Guardian". --maru (talk) contribs 20:44, 6 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Lack of contact with reality in discussion of Wikipedia

Articles along the lines of "Collective thinking and Wikipedia" lack a grounding in reality. Only a tiny number of people give a hoot about the alleged motivations behind Wikipedia. Over a hundred million people use Wikipedia each month, and most of them do so just because it is useful, without giving a damn about any of these so-called ideological issues that can be pinned to it. Personally, I couldn't be much further away from being a "maoist" of "collectivist" and it is kind of libellous for people to write out-of-touch-with-reality articles inferring that Wikipedians deserves such tags. Chicheley 14:22, 6 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Comment on Seattle Times article

Its only error was the notion that "New articles [...] are first posted for preliminary review before publishing in the encyclopedia where anyone can edit them."

Technically Wikipedia:Articles for creation does fill that role, although of course most new articles never go through that channel. --Kwekubo 17:37, 6 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Quite possibly the researcher did not create an account, and thought that Wikipedia:Articles for creation was the only way to create a new page? -- Mithent 01:44, 7 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]

A first for the Signpost?

Sanger's article advocates collaboration with "the possibility of a 'lead author'." That sounds like what the Signpost has been doing since January 2005. Articles are signed, but (as far as I can tell) other users are free to make minor changes. – Minh Nguyễn (talk, contribs) 08:40, 7 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]


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