Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wikipedia = Cities, an analogy

Disclamer: This is not my idea. This is just a reblog.

On the topic of trusting wikipedia - the great online encyclopedia where anyone can change anything, for better or for worse.

"It is this sidewalk-like transparency and collective responsibility that makes Wikipedia as accurate as it is. The greater the foot traffic, the safer the neighborhood. Thus, oddly enough, the more popular, even controversial, an article is, the more likely it is to be accurate and free of vandalism. It is the obscure articles — the dead-end streets and industrial districts, if you will — where more mayhem can be committed. It takes longer for errors or even malice to be noticed and rooted out. (Fewer readers will be exposed to those errors, too.)

"Like the modern megalopolis, Wikipedia has decentralized growth. Wikipedia adds articles the way Beijing adds neighborhoods — whenever the mood strikes. It is open to all: the sixth-grader typing in material from her homework assignment, the graduate student with a limited grasp of English. No judgments, no entry pass.


"[T]here is a professional class of Wikipedia skeptics. They, too, have some seriously depraved behavior to expose: Wikipedia represents a world without experts! A world without commercial news outlets! A world lacking in distinction between the trivial and the profound! A world overrun with facts but lacking in wisdom!

"It’s all reminiscent of the longstanding accusations made against cities: They don’t produce anything! All they do is gossip! They think they are so superior! They wouldn’t last a week if we farmers stopped shipping our food! They don’t know the meaning of real work!"
--from: Wikipedia: Exploring Fact City, NYTimes

And so, says scott, wikipedia is to be trusted as you would trust a city.
And so: Do you trust wikipedia more, or cities less?

1 comment:

Scott Geoffrey said...

The more interesting idea:
"cities are an extravagance"