Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Joy of Antique Wikipedia Entries

There is a nice piece at Big Think on The Joy of Antique Wikipedia Entries.
It’s sheer magic: flyblown tomes you'd otherwise never encounter are suddenly thrust under your nose. People and events with zero impact on the modern world somehow become relevant again. Need to learn about New Hampshire conchologist Augustus Addison Gould? Of course you don’t, but thanks to the zombified 1911 Britannica, you can!
My father was obsessed with encyclopedias so I grew up in a house that was heaving to the rafters with all kinds of them.  There were even some volumes of the very first Britannica lying around in the stair cupboard.  So I appreciate the sentiments.  But it's a bit disappointing when a hundred year old source is the only information on the subject, as I pointed out here and here.  It's also irritating, as I have said hundreds of time, that Wikipedia is celebrated as some mystical magical emergentist phenomenon that has produced the sum of human knowledge by the underlabour of millions of uneducated volunteers.  This is simply not true, as I have argued.

And disappointing, again, that the horribly flawed Nature study is still being cited as evidence of Wikipedia accuracy.

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