Sunday, 24 February 2008

Hitchhikers Wiki to The Universe

Carrying on from earlier notes about wikipedia, anyone else find it really interesting that so much of wiki myth becomes wiki truth? Not only tabloid tales but actual biographies...

Technically you can kill someone with a wiki; details can be updated by any computer literate information junkie. You can even hit that all important delete button and kapow instant annhilation. You could even raise someone from the dead...

Wiki is supposedly a self correcting growing living document of the world; imagine it in the wrong hands, the censorship and revision of history? China already blocks wikipedia from most of the mainland isps. What does this do to supposed free speech: we are given the option to write our own history but ultimately could it be edited to serve a very different purpose?

Isn't it tempting to see what one very bored teenager could do and the consequence on a thousand poorly researched gcse papers?

Wikipedia itself purports to be the 'free online encylopedia' but I'm always amazed by how much trust is put into it. When we click on a blog, we generally know not to take everything as verbatim but when the word 'encyclopedia' is invoked; well I've even fallen into the trap of 'hmm could go to the library...could wiki it...oh that was easy...' It's easy to believe something right in front of your face.

Since Wiki is written by real life people, emotions are going to be present and considering the blogtastic role of people like perezhilton we're in for trouble. When the death of Kenneth Lays (endron dude) was reported last year on wiki he was instantly reported as commiting suicide due to intense guilt over the scandal and couldn't face court... he actually died of a heart attack but in those few hours millions of people wiki-ing to find out the who the hell Kenneth Lays was made an instant decision based on inefficient research and hot-headed reaction.

Wikipedia has also spawned a million bastard wiki's; all devoted to seperate genres, sub-genres and even a Second Life almost makes me shudder. Wiki's for tv shows or games, well fair play; fansites have existed for ages and it's actually good to see what happens in the next episode of heroes or whatever. It's harmless.

So I don't think I have a point but thought I'd flag up the option of character death by wiki as a subject (possibly with a candlestick but definitely not in the library)

1 comment:

Ross Sutherland said...

I really like this idea. Some wiki pages are particularly fascinating: The one on the gaza strip:

you can see how often that page gets corrected. over time, its contributors begin to affect an incredibly neutral voice- you have to, its the only way to avoid having your entry axed straight away. So in some ways its more accurate, less biased than other mediums.

Here's a list of mistakes made by Encyclopedia Britannica, corrected by Wikipediaædia_Britannica_that_have_been_corrected_in_Wikipedia

But out on the fringes of culture, its a very different story. Fleeting celebrities are all too easy to vandalise. You could kill off John Leslie, for example, no one would notice for years.

I think this would make a great story: someone who finds themselves dead on wikipedia.

There's already a few great historical accounts of people reading their own obituaries. It caused the famous Mark Twain speech : "reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated". It also changed Alfred Noble's life: when he read is obituary, he saw that he would only be remembered as the man who invented dynamite. it was at that point that he decided to set up the noble peace prize.

vicki, would you be up for writing a monologue on this? Or if you're too busy, would you mind if I tried to find someone else to write it?