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

February 11, 2005


John Meunier

Does saying "all systems have their flaws" really address the issue that the professor at the big university raised?

Does it matter for the citizen journalsim model if only a small portion of the population wants to take on the chore of assembling, editing, and correcting the news?

The rhetoric of the new media seems to suggest that there are great untapped resevoirs of people who do not participate only because they are pushed the margins by the Big Media.

But what if this is not the case? Does it matter?

I don't know if analogies are useful here -- I imagine some will be quick to point out that the news as conversation model does not fit my analogy -- but that said:

The Web has made it possible for me gather every piece of information I need to fix my own car. I can get all the technical information, order the parts, even find online advice. But I still take my car to the mechanic.

Are the old media like the corner garage? Are they the place where most people go -- not because they couldn't do it themselves, but because they have decided their time is better spent elsewhere?



One benefit is giving people access to something different, on a wider scale. The majority of people will continue on consuming media the way they have been doing for at least the last 50 year - but whatever you want to call the new developments, and whatever the tools used (wikinews or something else), some people will increasingly participate in the distribution of information, and creation of media - many more people than previously.

is it likely they will supplant mainstream media? prob not. but it will necessarily create a segmet of population that is more engaged with the information around them, or at least will provide a means for them to connect.

I like ornette coleman, but it doesn't matter to me if all the britney fans start listening to him, as long as I can listen to him. in the same way I (and many other people) support wikipedia et al and that is where I go first for info - if the rest of the world chooses other sources, well, what difference does that make to me?


"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."

-I don't have to point out what's wrong with that, do I :).

Anyway, here's a challenge to those who have issues with Wikipedia: go and find something that's wrong. Go on. Show us something.


Well Dan100 I was going to send you the Wikipedia adoption link but it's much better than when I looked two weeks ago.


Two days later... either everyone got bored or they couldn't find any mistakes!


Hey Dan, Maybe they've been too busy fixing the errors on wikipedia and don't have time to post back here!


Why should the professor have time for making it better?

Isn't money invented as a transactional mechanism so that everyone wouldn't have to make their own clothes, grow their own food and make their own dictionaries?


"Isn't money invented as a transactional mechanism so that everyone wouldn't have to make their own clothes, grow their own food and make their own dictionaries?"

No, it isn't. For a far better explanation of why money was introduced, try


The Toronto Globe & Mail's science writing is consistently atrocious and so I hope not representative of the paper's dedication to accuracy. Anyway, it's not apt to rate Wikipedia's accuracy against newspapers. Any given news story is a disposable, impermanent representation of some facts that probably will be visited again and again by the publisher and hopefully gotten right more often than wrong. People tend to read these stories once and not to search them out as the authoritative bottom line on anything. But an encyclopedia article is exactly the place the ordinary person goes again and again for the bottom line.


Murky, maybe that's not the function of wikipedia, to be the final bottom line, but rather the first source of info, which (if the external links are done well), lead into deeper specialized text. and again, wikipedia is free, not true of britannica et al.


and Me, in fact profs are paid salaries to publish their research in nominally "public" journals (typically the journals pay little or nothing, but the prof responsibility to the university for which she works includes publishing). these journals are only nominally public because they tend to be expensive. wikipedia is a place which brings that public dissemination (free) to anyone who cares to look at it, in the case of profs who bother to disseminate their knowledge.

what if, for instance, unis required profs to spend 1 hour per month editing a wikipedia article in their area of expertise? or required them to offer their course material online for free? Why? Because the job of universities, in some people's minds, should be to educate the public. Crazy? see: MIT Open Courseware.


sorry! the link is to MIT Open Courseware, and not microsoft!!

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