Technology media outlets are abuzz after the November 6 unveiling of the Amazon Echo, an Internet-connected voice command device. Amazon.com's new device has numerous features: it plays music, news, and weather, keeps reminders and shopping lists, provides information like Wikipedia articles and answers to basic queries. These features are activated by speaking the "wake word", Alexa. It is not clear how exactly the Echo provides information from Wikipedia, such as whether or not it reads the whole article or just parts like the introduction, or how it will navigate disambiguation pages. The Wikipedia function is not demonstrated in Amazon's video about the Echo, though it is listed on its display of sample voice commands through the example "Wikipedia Abraham Lincoln". The Wall Street Journalquips "Guess that means Wikipedia is officially a verb now."
EU restrictions on freedom of panorama affect Wikipedia
Scott Cantrell, classical music critic for the Dallas Morning News, recounts (November 11) efforts to verify an uncited claim in the Wikipedia article for the Béla Bartók opera Bluebeard's Castle. According to the claim, first inserted into the article in 2009, "The opera was first performed in the United States in a student production at Southern Methodist University in 1946." SMU is a school in the Dallas, Texas, area. Pamela E. Pagels, music librarian at the Hamon Arts Library of Southern Methodist University, extensively researched this claim and writes:
I found no evidence that the work was ever performed in Dallas in 1946, much less at Southern Methodist University as a student production. In addition to The Dallas Morning News, I searched the entire contents of our SMU Campus student newspaper for 1946 and our university archivist searched extant concert programs from the School of Music. We found no documented performances of Bluebeard at Southern Methodist University in that year. Furthermore, I find it very hard to believe that this would have been performed as a student production. It is famously difficult to sing (in its original Hungarian language as well as in German and English translations) and requires a very large orchestra consisting of doubled woodwind and brass sections, expanded percussion, full strings and organ. SMU would not have had those forces available for performance.
Pagels discovered that the US premiere was actually three years later, on January 9, 1949, when it was performed by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The claim about SMU was removed from Wikipedia following the publication of Cantrell's article.
Blog complains about being considered an unreliable source on Wikipedia
The Grand Forks Heraldreports (November 10) that two North Dakota State University students who pled guilty to misdemeanor charges following an attempted prank on the campus of the University of North Dakota were sentenced to write an essay on the topic "Why UND is a good school". The judge instructed them to not "paste off some Wikipedia page," but despite this the Herald noted some similarities between their essays and Wikipedia articles.
JOE.iecomplains (November 10) that spoilers for the season five finale of the Irish crime drama Love/Hate were added to the article of actor Peter Coonan. The edit has since been reverted.
Zara Rahman discusses (November 9) her efforts to improve the article for inventor and actress Hedy Lamarr on the occasion of Lamarr's 100th birthday.
Newsweekinterviews (November 7) the two anonymous bloggers who accused journalists Benny Johnson and Fareed Zakaria of plagiarizing Wikipedia and other sources. (See previous Signpostcoverage.) In a blog post (November 11), they allege that IP edits to Zakaria's article deleting information about the plagiarism allegations originated from Zakaria himself.
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