From Britannica to Wikipedia via Po Bronson

It’s that Saturday feeling.

Funny days in the park
Every day’s the fourth of july
People reaching, people touching
A real celebration
Waiting for us all
If we want it, really want it

From Saturday in the Park by Chicago

I just love the emotion expressed in  “every day’s the fourth of july”, an innate need to enjoy the freedoms we have bestowed upon us. And I love Chicago’s music.

I see the Encyclopedia Britannica’s finally decided to come out fighting, and have challenged Nature’s research on the accuracy of Britannica versus Wikipedia.

I am reminded of a story in one of Po Bronson’s earliest books, Bombardiers. [And by the way, please do read Bronson. If you’ve worked in the City or the Street, take a look at this]

I’m paraphrasing Bronson, but somewhere in the book he points out that in the Stone Age, Might was Right, and you could work out who was Mighty; in the Industrial Age, it became Money Ruled, and you could work out who was the Man; now, in the Information Age, we have a problem. Information often changes faster than the time it takes to verify its accuracy. So hunches are important.

Please remember this is a paraphrase years after reading the book; any inaccuracies are mine and not Po’s. And by the way I’ve decided to link to him as well, keep in touch with what he’s doing.

What’s this got to do with Wikipedia and Britannica? This is the way I look at it. The Big Endians and Little Endians will have their Blefuscudian battles forever. But if we step outside the study, and look at the biggest stories we’ve had on inaccuracies and changes in Wikipedia: John Siegenthaler; Tom Harkin; Norm Coleman; Tom Coburn; they’ve all had one thing in common:


Go figure. We will always have both Wisdom as well as Madness when we deal with Crowds. And we will have Politics, where the two meet.

Let me know what you think

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