Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

Archive forOctober 30th, 2004 | back to home

30 October 2004
Filed under:Open source at5:25 pm

The often-interesting Many to Many weblog posted about the reliability of Wikipedia and how it functions some time ago.

The Guardian’s “Simon Waldman”:http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1335837,00.html tackled this again more recently and found that although it was hard to introduce errors into the wikipedia, ‘Frozen North’ proved “it can be done”:http://www.frozennorth.org/C2011481421/E652809545/ if the errors are obscure enough. I think the much more important point was made by Ethan Zuckerman who “points out”:http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/ethan/2004/09/27#a356 the fact that

most of the people who work on Wikipedia are white, male technocrats from the US and Europe.

and the Wikipedia will therefore probably never provide as broad a perspective on the world as something like the Encyclopaedia Brittannica does.

I don’t understand why none of the authors even the ones in the UK mentioned “H2G2”:http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/ the smaller and more lighthearted but quite interesting alternative model, which has more of a hierarchical structure but produces good work. I think it is also worth noting that the 1911 edition of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica is “available for free online”:http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/ (albeit in a rather rough and ready form) and a more recent edition is available on CD-ROM for less than £20 these days.