[lit-ideas] Re: Wikipedia

  • From: "John McCreery" <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2006 11:50:01 +0900

On 10/23/06, Andreas Ramos <andreas@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

But there's a different problem with Wikipedia, and all of these systems for 
knowlege. It creates a sense that we have knowledge. But there are many things 
that don't
fit into Wikipedia, and we end up with "well, it's not in there, so it doesn't 

With all due respect, this comment strikes me as a non sequitor. The only people I can imagine assuming that any particular source contains all and only the truth concerning any topic whatsoever are religious fanatics who assume that their Book (be it Bible, or Koran, or Talmud, whatever) is inerrant and contains the sum of all knowledge. To anyone who assumes, as I do, that all human beings are fallible and all collections of knowledge at best approximations to larger, largely unknown wholes, the notion that if it doesn't appear in Wiki it doesn't exist is laughable.

From this perspective Wiki is simply a convenient place to begin a
search, whose results can then be cross-checked with Google or some
other search engine or, if one has the time, turning to printed
material. Wiki may be the first word; it certainly isn't the last.

What has changed in the world is how easy services like Wiki, Google,
etc., make it to find and cross-check basic information. If anything
is surprising in an increasingly annoying way, it is the very large
number of people who clutter bandwidth with questions asked before
taking these obvious steps to see what's out there.

P.S. My wife's and my trust in Britannica has declined sharply since
we examined the current Britannica entry on Yokohama, the city in
which we live and about which we are the authors of the entry in the
Grolier Encyclopedia of Urban Cultures. The entry is now at least
twenty years old and, thus, hopelessly out of date and the acount of
the city's founding is, historically speaking, incompetent, largely,
it appears, the result of the author's failure to realize that certain
terms, e.g., "Kanagawa," refer to different entities at different
points in time.

John McCreery
The Word Works, Ltd., Yokohama, JAPAN

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