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« What Hewlett-Packard's Board Should Do Next | Main | Freedom to Connect »

February 11, 2005



Excellent insight! I enjoy your posts.


Dan, Yes, you cite a classic example-- of the upper echelons not WANTING to get their hands dirty !!

yeah talk about 'not getting it' !!!


Let the experts crap on Wikinews. In the meantime we can watch an exiting experiment unfold.

If Wikinews only serves to teach the contributors about journalism---hey, the experts could help with that by copy editing and giving suggestions, you know, editing---isn't that a great thing?

Jon Garfunkel

This invokes the fallacy that everybody will be assimilated into the WikiBorg. There are many wikis, there are many blogs, many truths. People have the freedom not to associate with wikinews. There's an old Jewish joke about a man who builds two synagogues on a desert island-- the second one being the one that he doesn't belong to. Wikinews is largely value-neutral, but not completely value-free.

Wiki communicates a crisp layout and a strict discipline of writing style. It also, surprisingly to many, asserts the values of peer editing. But that doesn't mean there's only one Wiki.

Carmi Levy

You've cited a great example of conventional media's disdainful view of new media. I think it will take time for society in general - beyond the early and next-stage adopters who are currently flooding the blogosphere - to accept the evolving paradigm of what constitutes media, and to learn to build stronger connections between the various channels.

Right now, much of what is being done - including your own project, to be perfectly honest - is so new that some folks simply don't know what to make of it. Big University Professor, not wanting to let down his ivory tower persona for even a nanosecond, likely represents the majority of the old-school set in that he's too afraid to even consider the implications of this evolution. His loss.

Carmi Levy

Daniel Conover

Whatever wiki is in practice, wiki in concept is a revolution. Sometimes revolutions take a while to get going, and revolutions can have counter-revolutions, but wiki bears watching.

Wikinews looks like an evolutionary dead-end, but so what?

Dan Gillmor

Jon, absolutely true. I think Wikis are a medium with many, many uses. I plan to use Wikis in my citizen-journalism project.

Bob M

There's a whole theory about academic experts of their fields being "gatekeepers" who keep out new ideas, etc, by controlling key print journals. They are upset at the egalitarian competition of the Internet, for some academic theory they are trying to keep out can easily be put on a server and thus just be a google away.

It offends them deeply. I don't know it to be true for sure myself, but the prof angry at inaccuracies in Wikipedia seems to fit.

Jon Garfunkel

As I predicted, despite Jay Rosen's pronouncement about the "conflict being over," things are still being framed in this narrative. Old Media, Old Professors = Bad = Horders of Data. It's tiresome to read this narrative over and over.

Dan, I'm curious. Why use wiki? Why not use the civ, which is designed for community publishing? Drupal/CivicSpace is an example. We are using Drupal in Boston for the Universal Hub.


people are basically threatened by people willing to create popular intellectual resources for reasons other than money or power and prestige

profs write in journals no-one reads.

laymen write on blogs which millions read.

who is truly educating and who is greedily gathering symbolic capital to turn into cash?


irishhead: If I wanted to learn about quantum physics (or neurosurgery, or any other technical pursuit) I'd read the professor, not the blogger. On the other hand, if I were considering a career in quantum physics and wanted to know what it's like, I'd read the blogger.

Like any medium, blogs are good at some things and not so good at others.

Dan Gillmor

Jon, I have no overwhelming commitment to any single tool. I'll use what works best, period. I'm just enamored of Wikis and their flexibility at the moment. I'd love to hear more on the other tools, however.

Mark Wickens

How does the professor not get it? Like 99% of the world, he just doesn't have any interest in posting to Wikipedia. The value of any information source has to be judged on accuracy. If it's true that Wikipedia is generally failing to provide accurate information, then blaming the person who points this out seems both unjust and counterproductive.


I was at the lecture where Dan and the prof disagreed about Wikis. I remember a study about five years ago that said 65% of news story subjects cited major inaccuracies in the reporting. Print and broadcast reporting. Anyone remember who did the study? Want to guess whether Wiki does better? I'm not saying it's great... I deplore the section on adoption (the one I checked out when I first heard of Wikipedia weeks ago) and when I get time I WILL correct it.

Paul Stuart

Laurie, good point about the fallibility of the mainstream media. Jason Blair demonstrated that quite well too.

I was curious about the adoption page and checked it out--I'm not sure what you find objectionable (mind you I just skimmed it). But this intrigues me: how could this be adapted to have the differences and/or dialog in better way?

For example, if you edit it to "fix" the parts you don't like it now has a new reality and viewers will see just that. The old version which worked for someone before is lost. Yes, you can go to the history to see changes but that is a different context; more of a log than dialog. Extending this, the very comments that we have here in the discussion are both linear (one post after another) and discontinuous (content and intent of each post do not necessarily flow together).

I can't quite put my finger on it, but I know that there has got to be better ways to converse online. I'm thinking along the lines of layers (think photoshop) and scalable interfaces (zoom in and out to levels of detail and relevance). In a sense hypertext linking does both these things but it still feels too modal.


If you're interested, there's a blog listing the latest Wikinews articles available, that also has an RSS feed.


"Talk about not getting it. No, we can't make Wikipedia perfect. But we can improve it, which is the point."

I think the point is that it's unstable and hence unreliable. An expert may have just brought it to perfection, but five minutes later someone can read something grossly inaccurate, because in the meantime someone came by and wrecked it out of unrestrained ignorance or maliciousness. There's a lot of both on Wikipedia.


A Wiki article represents an equilibrium, not a product, and the equilibrium exists between a very small number of careful people who know what they know and a very much larger number of less careful people who don't know what they misunderstand.

James Thiele


Our system of driving cars on streets and highways is unstable and hence unreliable. An expert may be driving perfectly, but suddenly die because someone swerved into their car and wrecks it out of unrestrained ignorance or maliciousness. There's a lot of both on our streets and highways

My point? Just necause a system is imperfect doesn't mean it can't work reasonably well most of the time.

Daniel Conover

what stikes me about wekimedia is that it goes beyond the "single author" model of the solitary blogger while rejecting the traditional publishing hierarchy. it's a series of self-selecting virtual communities organized around topics.

imperfect? absolutely. but a wonderful source for basic reference material, and since it's a process, not a product, it can improve.

Daniel Conover

"I remember a study about five years ago that said 65% of news story subjects cited major inaccuracies in the reporting. Print and broadcast reporting."

Just off the top of my head, "major inaccuracies" would be one one of those squishy research categories that demands a precise definition before it becomes a meaningful statement, que no?


Car accidents aren't capable of reproduction and geometric growth, like information is.


Also, in contrast to wiki-ing, a person needs to earn a license to drive.

Guillaume Laurent

Dan, in this case I'm afraid you're the one not getting it. As the evolution of Open Source software demonstrates, people generally want a service, they do not want to fix problems, because they have better things to do.

There is a huge difference between making information (be it source code or text) open and available for others to improve, and *relying on this openness* for improvement.

The Open Source community has held this "if it's broken, fix it or shut up" position for years, and is only now realizing it's untenable. You want to get involved to improve something only if these conditions are met :

- you have enough resources to do it (skills and free time)

- the product's current state of quality is already quite high. Below a certain threshold, you just give up over it altogether.


wikipedia is free. in many discussions this seems to be downplayed, but the question: "should information be available to everyone regardless of socio-economic situation" is answered best, in my opinon by wikipedia. if all other sources begin offering their info free without restrictions, well then we could compare apples to apples.

re: wikinews (or wikipedia) vs, for ex, ny times: I worked professionally for some time (no loger) on climate change issues. I was often stunned by the blatant factual errors to be found in the nytimes, and the canadian equivalent globe and mail. it was/is shocking. I suspect any expert in a topic sees such errors in 50% of newspaper articles on their field.

so, when people complain about false info coming from wikis & elsewhere, I just shrug my shoulders. many many errors get repeated in mainstream discourse all the time. that system has its flaws, as does wikipedia etc.

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