Monday, 19 December 2005

The One Source...

Read an article on Wikipedia vs. Britannica. The people on both sides of this argument are hilarious. The people who proclaim Wikipedia as the perfect resource and use it regularly with abandon are just fooling themselves. And the people who are disgusted with it and argue that paid researchers and editors always do a better job... they're fooling themselves too.

Truth is a very difficult thing to reach. Both methods have their advantages. Having a whole bunch of yahoos claw their way to the truth works because the more yahoos there are the more likely one of them will know what he/she's talking about and be able to convince others. Having a specific set of hired guns to hunt down the truth and bring it to justice works because everyone knows what their job is and nobody will get in the way. Both groups have their motivation: the former has general interest multiplied by numbers and possible fame, and the latter has money, employment as well as possible interest and fame. And both have their disadvantages: the former is obvious (those yahoos may all be yahoos), and the latter is the assumption of competence and less review.

How about having both? Not in the same product. But having both products give you more options and more liklihood of the USER reaching the truth. Britannica (et al) is good for that material that needs in depth research and qualified experts. Wikipedia is good for material best suited for popular opinion or unresearch-worth information (e.g. controversial issues, quick topic intros, seemingly useless information, etc.).

Moral of the story: No one source will have all the answers. The "truth", if such a thing exists, is very hard to find. You'll have to dig for it yourself. You can't rely on others. Go get your shovel and tell me how it goes...

1 comment:

Dan said...

The hoopla surrounding the comment about the Britannica is petty.

Did you know that there is a Wikiuniversity in beta format now?

The T.S. Eliot couse looks interesting.

Merry Christmas