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Wikipedia, the second-most often attacked technology after Linux

Date/Time Permalink: 03/18/07 09:31:58 pm
Category: General

Lately, the criticism against Wikipedia has grown from what would be attributed to public opinion to the range of paid asstroturfing. The tune is so familiar, I can recognize it from its opening bars. There is no doubt in my mind that somebody, somewhere, is afraid of losing a sale to the world's own free encyclopedia, and that they are thus motivated into paying for smear campaigns against it. I don't even have to know or care who's behind it. But you'd have to be blind not to notice that somebody has an agenda.

Which figures. These days, if it's free to the people to both produce and consume, bet on some suit in a board room having hissy fits about it. It doesn't matter whether its software or information or media. It's a wonder we can still breathe for free.

This time around, there is no slippery slope. The criticisms against Wikipedia don't even pause at logic on their way to absurdity.

Wikipedia is freely editable, so it must be unreliable? Hey, sunshine, the freaking INTERNET is freely editable, so it must be unreliable too! How did you find out about Wikipedia without using the Internet? Read it in USA-Today?

Or take the recent over-hyped error discovered in which one performer was inaccurately noted as dead. Ah ha, anyone can sabotage it, so it must be a bad thing to be gotten rid of! Well, anybody can commit crimes in society, too, so is society a bad thing? Wikipedia, like any public service, needs policing. In fact, dozens of articles are hotly disputed every day. Many articles have had to be watched for the same troll coming in to sabotage them again and again.

And Wikipedia is also attacked for the so-called credential issue. Because it is designed without the blessings of authoritative 'experts', its findings are suspect. But how many of us have read garbage in school text books that was simply false? Had facts drilled into our heads in a college course that were irrelevant or outdated by the time we tried to apply them in the real world? Watched helplessly as our children were subjected to the whim of yet another government buzzword program which did nothing but waste everybody's time? Groaned as a TV media news program completely skewed the story they were trying to report?

At the end of the day, I'll trust the eye-witness accounts of five people who were there to see the event before the opinion of some ivory tower priest. I'll trust the common consensus of opinion before the conclusions of some corporate-sponsored think tank. I'll take what I know from experience working in a field before the facts as given by a professor who hasn't set foot anywhere but his own campus for the past 20 years.

There's a reason why those with the highest IQs tend to be autodidacts. Because they see how hopelessly brain-dead the educational institutions are. Given a choice between paying for someone to stand up in front of the class for a month and explain a book they haven't read, or checking out the same book from a library to read in a week, the rogue intellectuals know which method benefits them more.

Wikipedia and its ideals of free information resources, like the ideals of free media sharing and free software, manifest in essence the ultimate freedom of the human race to make up its own mind what is fit fare for their collective intellect. And like the other freedoms we public persons are now using, the corporate suits that are cut out of the deal are going to squawk. Its just one attack on our liberties after another lately. Freedom, as the corporate world defines it, means freedom to stay in economic slavery under their whip.

Protests against Wikipedia? How predictably inevitable. And in the long run, how futile. Information may not want to be free, but history has shown that the people will stand for nothing less.

ℵ Here, Wikipedia's deleted bad jokes and nonsense.

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