Hey wiki comics is advertising some pharmacy links you can find below. Sorry for any inconvenience. Hope you can understand... Links are below: Tadalafil Citrate | generic cialis 10 mg | tadalafil citrate 10mg | tadalafil citrate 5mg | generic cialis 40 mg |

Business - Written by on Saturday, August 2, 2008 18:21 - 4 Comments

Jeff DeChambeau
Wikipedia: Living History for the Rest of Time?

It occured to me that in one hundred, or even one thousand or more years, historians are going to use Wikipedia to figure out what it is that we thought of ourselves. Apparently we like Pokemon.

My argument goes like this: as Will argued a few days ago, Wikipedia, by virtue of it’s nature, could be more fair and balanced than any news network. The John Edwards article he discussed was pulled back and forth by differing viewpoints until finally an equilibrium of compromise was agreed on. While the article may or may not paint a true-to-life picture of things, it paints a picture that, in general, people find truth in — that is to say, an article on wikipedia is a snapshot of our current concensus about the state of the world.

Because Wikipedia tracks every change made on every page, ever, future historians will be able to look at the evolutionary histories of various topics, as they are filtered by the public eye of whoever makes up the current public. Events of the past that were controversial at the time they occured will be reported as being less and less inflamatory as future generations update the collective account of history to be in line with their current view of things. While I don’t expect a wholesale change of content, even compounded shifts of adjectives in an article over time could greatly change the meaning of articles. But, this shift can be clearly and explicitly tracked: a degree of honesty-over-time is built into the process.

I just hope that the integrity of the servers remain, I can just imagine future schoolchildren debating whether or not lightsabres actually existed: “but if they didn’t exist, why is the article 10,000 words long?”


You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Mike Nutt
Aug 2, 2008 20:17

There are some really good points here, but there’s an underlying implicit argument in this post that i see all the time and it bugs the hell out of me. I sincerely hope that in 100 years, historians will be looking at many more wikis than just Wikipedia.

The fact that Wikipedia is the only wiki that most people are familiar with indicates that wikis are still in an early adoption period. My hope is that culture and community (and even individual) specific wikis will become more and more commonplace. I think there is a qualitative component missing in Wikipedia’s quest to document the world that could be of great value. Granted, that component is not what Wikipedia is about, but context is highly relevant to historians, and I’m not convinced that context can be adequately conveyed by simply tracking changes.

Reaching a consensus about John Edwards is certainly important for Wikipedia, but wouldn’t we also be able to derive a large amount of value from a “wikumentary” produced by the community of Edwards supporters? And another one by Edwards detractors?

Again, I’m not saying that what Wikipedia does is unimportant – it is very important. But I want very much for more people to start employing wikis in their own historical and documentary projects. Wikipedia is not the end-all be-all of wikis, and the more we buy in to that myth, the more we are selling short this wonderful social technology!

Aug 2, 2008 23:29


as comprehensive as wikipedia articles can be, i don’t think they are a legitimate replacement for good journalism now or ever.

even though there is a continuous editing process on wikipedia open to people from all political affiliations etc., the individuals editing these articles do not collect and disseminate the info as objectively as possible.

this is not necessarily a critique; they simply aren’t trained and experienced journalists and impartiality is not professionally expected of them.

is the “truth” thus defined as the resulting mishmash of opinions and information at the end of a long line of alterations to an article? i don’t know if this is correct.

“an article on wikipedia is a snapshot of our current concensus about the state of the world.”

there is a reason why traditional journalism has not been abandoned in favour of citizen journalism (or whatever the most recent buzzword is): the general public usually does not have the knowledge or resources to provide accurate snapshots of history worthy of reference from future historians.

a good journalist will provide his or her audience with this objective, true-to-life portrait of current events you speak of the FIRST time through.

why wade through the bullshit when someone else does it for you, and better?

Jeff DeChambeau
Aug 3, 2008 14:26

Mike: I agree with you, the scope of what I wrote was too narrow. I chose Wikipedia because it’s the biggest game in town. As the popularity of the wiki approach grows, more and more data about successive versions and ebbs and flows in public opinion will be collected and catalogued for future study.

I think that your second point is very much in line with where Cigdem went, so hopefully I can address them both together.

Cigdem: I agree with you too: citizen journalism is not on the same level as professional journalism. To argue that people dedicating their time to the pursuit of collaborative truth will always be better than journalists who have their intent corrupted by editorial influence would be comparing best-of-breed to worst-of-breed. So, I don’t think that Wikipedia (or, more specifically, in this case, WikiNews) should ever replace professional journalism. I do, however, think that it offers more below the surface than conventional journalism does.

In a case where you have people donating their time to write about a controversial issue, you can be pretty certain that those people have some pretty strong views, be they pro or con. Built in to the history of any wiki page is an entire history of the subject matter being pulled back and forth between the two points of view, as well as a history of why the contributors felt that their contribution made for the most accurate article, there’s a whole history of process that is built into the final (if there ever is a final version) product. With conventional journalism, you have someone who is endeavoring to present the issues as fairly as possible, but they still end up speaking with only one voice – no matter how well they represent the voices of the people they are reporting on.

So, I think the answer is to have both approaches working in tandem, but I still think that looking at the wiki history of the article profiling an event, over time, will give you a much more contiguous view of how opinion has changed. As soon as I find some time, I’m going to look at the article for 9/11 and see how much it’s changed from September 12th to today.

Mike: I imagine that this issue of professional journalism has cropped up a lot in your pursuit of the Wikumentary. How do you deal with it?

Mike Nutt
Aug 4, 2008 1:12

Quite right, Jeff, I think about professional journalism a lot, and was in fact a pretty dismal radio reporter for a little while. (By the way, along these lines, I find the discussions at PBS’ MediaShift Idea Lab blog very relevant – there they cover the changing nature of journalism and the intersection of citizen and professional journalism. Fantastic stuff.)

On a practical level, I think there is value in professional journalists as information parsers, fact finders, and storytellers. However, I disagree that “trained and experienced” journalists somehow have an edge over the average wiki contributor about what perspective is historian-worthy, mostly because I believe that there is no such thing as objectivity. Everyone has a perspective, and I think it’s disingenuous for journalism as a profession to pretend that’s not the case. I believe even journalists recognize this, and that’s why you hear about being “balanced” now more than you do about being “objective.” I don’t think there’s anything about the professional journalism process of seeking “objectivity” that couldn’t be taught to any student in a media literacy curriculum (verifying facts and sources is the hardest part of what the pros do). If one doubts this, go peruse some New York Times articles from the 1800s about race and tell me if those professional journalists strike you as objective.

Jeff, I think you’re right in that the answer is to have both (or better yet, multiple) approaches working in tandem, just as we might compare news from Mother Jones, Fox News, and the Chicago Tribune to suss out the underlying facts of a story. The community contextualization I’m trying to develop through wikumentary is just one more approach to historical storytelling. Wikipedia does indeed represent a fantastic new take on this storytelling process, and it is, in my opinion, equally valuable to any take on the creation of history offered by a newspaper of record. And both of THOSE historical takes might only be as valuable as my own perspective. The more data historians have to work with, the better.

Finally, I would make an argument that there is an exploitative element to professional, corporate journalism. They tell stories to make money (via advertising). To me, that’s not being objective. I’m therefore naturally interested in sources (such as Wikipedia or wikumentaries or amateur journalists and storytellers) who have less financial interest in the story being told. (How’s that for opening a can of worms?! And Jeff, I don’t think I made it clear in my original comment – this was a great and fascinating post, thanks and thanks for your thoughtful reply.)

Now available in paperback!
Don Tapscott and Anthony D. William's latest collaboration, Macrowikinomics: New Solutions for a Connected Planet. Learn more.

Business - Oct 5, 2010 12:00 - 0 Comments

DRM and us

More In Business

Entertainment - Aug 3, 2010 13:14 - 2 Comments

Want to see the future? Look to the games

More In Entertainment

Society - Aug 6, 2010 8:19 - 4 Comments

The Empire strikes a light

More In Society