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  Sunday, April 16, 2006

Danah Boyd wrote a thought-provoking piece on the trials and tribulations of having a Wikipedia entry -- or really more to the point, the ongoing identity crisis of Wikipedia.

If you put all of the pretensions aside, I really like Wikipedia. There's lots of thoughtful, well-researched content in there, and it makes for interesting reading and in some cases a really good complement for more authoritative information resources. There's also some crap in there, and the David-slaying-Goliath talk from some of its supporters gets a little tiresome.

But the dirving forces behind Wikipedia can't quite decide what it is and what people should compare it to. Is it an encyclopedia? Well sort of, but from a consumer's point of view (and as Danah points out) it's really hard to know what entries I should expect to find in Wikipedia. How much should I trust the content? Well, hopefully a lot, but there are edit wars between people with divergent points of view and in some cases (as Danah points out) the definitive experts on a topic are not allowed to contribute.

I wistfully hoped that Wikipedia would aspire to be something akin to the First Foundation in Asimov's books - a compendium of human knowledge. Why wouldn't you want an entry on everyone, instead of just some subset of "notable" people as determined by a vague guideline and people's personal biases. And why shouldn't people get to cotnribute to their own entry? That doesn't mean that they get the last word, but they certainly are an authority on the subject at hand :-)

So the Wikipedians now have a problem: managing their success. They have to stop walking the middle of the road and decide what it is that they want Wikipedia to be. Good luck to them (sincerely).

4:13:17 PM    comment []

The White House Easter Egg Roll has become a major political event this year.

Gay and lesbian families are organizing to participate this year, including wearing rainbow-colored leis so that they can be easily identified.

In turn, the White House has changed the time-honored process of handing out tickets to make sure that none of them are at the opening ceremonies -- and will thereby be excluded from most of the press coverage and anything resembling a formal interaction with the White House that might be interpreted as approval.

12:27:15 PM    comment []

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