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... the editorial blog by Marydee Ojala, Editor of ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals. ONLINE Insider intends to extend the reach of the print publication, presenting a more timely commentary on the products, people, and events that shape today's online world. It explores new technologies as they impact the working lives of information professionals, explains resources for specific topic areas, and expounds on information management tools and techniques.

Wikiality

Marydee Ojala @ 7:16 am

I just ran across a
YouTube
clip of Stephen Colbert’s take on Wikipedia, in which he urges people to change the Wikipedia entry on elephants to indicate their numbers are increasing in Africa and talks about how realilty can reflect a majority opinion rather than true reality. He points out that if you took an astronony course before Galileo and said the earth revolves around the sun, you’d have been considered crazy.

This is one of his Word segments and, as usual, the Word’s comments on Colbert’s rants is funnier than Colbert. It ends with “The revolution will not be verified.” It’s a good segment, not only because it points out an inherent flaw with the Wikipedia model (Can you really trust the wisdom of crowds? Are all crowds equally wise and trustable?), but it looks at a larger problem, which is that if enough people say the same thing often enough, it becomes true. I’d like to think that librarians and online searchers are non-believers in “wikiality,” instead fact-checking and verifying sources, but I’m not always sure this is the case.

1 Comment

  1. A nice summary of the Colbert segment. It also served to make Colbert Report viewers more aware of Wikipedia and more active in it, helping to actually correct misinformation, not just have relatively harmless fun creating it. It has also lead to a dedicated wikiality site, basically serving as a politcal Wikipedia written satirically. It’s now an official part of Wikipedia via it’s wikia site.

    Comment by Dick Cheney's Shill at Halliburton — October 10, 2006 @ 12:49 am

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