Posts Tagged ‘Wikipedia’

Trolls at Play

CC Copyright by Betsythedevine

It is a truth universally acknowledged that despite personal hard disks that can store more information than the average public library, new search technologies, multiple ways of organizing a lifetime of intellectual endeavor into files, and folders, and libraries, if you nevertheless set out to find one single known file on your laptop you will never, ever locate it.  You will be condemned to an eternity of playing the “You know, I’m sure I remember I had a file about. . . ” game.  Serendipity, however, still holds a powerful sway over our actions, and sometimes the fruitful search for what we knew once existed turns up something we had forgotten we’d ever had.

Such was the case recently when I was searching for an article I was sure that I had written a number of years ago.  As I was about to conclude that I must have dreamed it, I stumbled across an antique e-mail in my draft folder, a message that I’d written back in October of 2005 but never sent.  Why I never sent it I don’t remember.  Clearly it was an e-mail that was involved in a rather intense discussion so maybe I was doing that all-too-rare of human actions: hesitating before I actually sent an e-mail.  But since this is me, that is unlikely.  Maybe I felt the discussion had been beaten to death or wouldn’t be of interest to others.  Maybe I hadn’t finished the message, although it looks pretty complete to me now.

Whatever the reason, I was startled to find how closely the e-mail was reflecting many of my current reservations about the rise of the clowd.  This post itself doesn’t explicitly concern games.  But the Bioware/Hepler controversy that I wrote about in my last post has made me realize I need to pay some serious attention to one of the most pervasive myths of the technoosphere: that there is a wisdom in crowds.


Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Kn...

Image via Wikipedia

Hard to believe but the Artificially Intelligent blog is now almost three years old.  Quite a lot of virtual ink under the bridge since then.  I thought it appropriate therefore to use the anniversary both to reflect on a piece of the past and to start something new.  This will be the first in a series of posts over the next few weeks attempting to think through what I term the “Monkeys Typing Hamlet” problem but which others refer to as “Crowd Sourcing.”

Quite some time ago I wrote about the facile reporting in a Newsweek article that described the imminent demise of crowd sourcing.  I haven’t changed my mind about the article.   It is still a perfect example of contemporary journalistic practice and therefore an indictment of everything that is wrong with the training and practice of many mainstream journalists today.  But the article struck a chord with me for an entirely different set of reasons.  Consider this portion:

There’s no shortage of theories on why Wikipedia has stalled. One holds that the site is virtually complete. Another suggests that aggressive editors and a tangle of anti-vandalism rules have scared off casual users. But such explanations overlook a far deeper and enduring truth about human nature: most people simply don’t want to work for free. They like the idea of the Web as a place where no one goes unheard and the contributions of millions of amateurs can change the world. But when they come home from a hard day at work and turn on their computer, it turns out many of them would rather watch funny videos of kittens or shop for cheap airfares than contribute to the greater good. Even the Internet is no match for sloth.

That’s why Wikipedia’s new recruiting push will not rely merely on highfalutin promises about pooled greatness and “the sum of all human knowledge.”

You can sense the authors’ delight here in being able to get a few digs in at those who have the temerity to believe in “pooled greatness” and who actually care about big ticket items like the state of human knowledge.   You can feel the satisfaction in declaring these kinds of dreams no match for the unstoppable power of LOLCATS.  There’s nothing quite as distinctive as the smell of superiority.  Then it hit me.

I could have written this piece.


Death Notices

Posted: September 2, 2010 by Twitchdoctor in New Media
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Something Wikied This Way Comes

Thanks to a friend of mine I came across a Newsweek article titled “Take this Blog and Shove It” from the beginning of August that announced the imminent death throes of Wikipedia and cheerfully proclaimed an end to the whole crowd source movement.  Apparently the number of contributors to Wikipedia has been in such decline that Wikipedia has been forced to–oh the horror–actually go out and recruit people, college students no less, to work on its content.

It’s not a great article.