Before I say anything I have to give a shout out to Jaron, who I met briefly at the Omega Institue in 1993 I believe. As well as being a talented musician, Jaron coined the term ‘Virtual Reality’ and in the early 1980s founded VPL Research, the first company to offer virtual reality gear like data gloves and head-mounted displays. Back in the days when a few hundred polygons was considered a rich virtual environment.
When I met Jaron I, along with a few friends, founded the Boston Computer Society Virtual Reality Group. It was one of the first VR user groups and at one point we had monthly meetings with hundreds of people showing up to catch a glimpse of cyberspace. I digress back to amazing times. 486 Mhz, 4 MB RAM, talk about delirious with power.
I’m not going to regurgitate Jaron’s article, go read it for yourself.
Today I started my first Wikipedia page, for the term Prepositional Marketing. At first I tried to create a page for Theprogressbar, but that was immediately because Wikipedia thought it was a vanity entry, which is reality is was. My intention was to create a base page from which I could hang links to various Wikipedia pages. What I was really trying to do was create a mix of Wikipedia and a blog when really what Wikipedia is good for is linking to, from blogs. Think “if you don’t believe me, or want additional detail, go to the Wikipedia entry.”
I link to Wikipedia all the time. I don’t worry to much about what’s actually written on the pages I link to, most are usually topics that do not illicit the fervor of the constantly overwritten Wikipedia faithful.
I assume, and this is always where I get in trouble, that people triangulate everything that’s important to them that they read on the interweb. I wouldn’t buy a baby seat from a linkfarm blog just as I wouldn’t pay much attention to a liberal blog written by backers of Focus on the Family.
A tremendous amount of discussion is happening about the usefulness/truthfulness of Wikipedia, as evidenced by the responses to Jaron’s article found on BoingBoing over the weekend.
In short, the two sides argue over the value of Wikipedia entries, which can be edited an infinite number of times by anyone.
One would think the entry for the color red would remain generally static over time, the majority of edits would be minor refinements to language and the addition of supporting data. Now, take a topic like the Davinci code or The morning after pill. Edits galore often several times a day. Much more of a lightening rod than the color red. Wait, I take that back, who knew the color red gets edited so often?
Clay Skirky proposes a â€˜dashboardâ€™ for each entry (via Black Belt Jones), allowing the browser to make his or her own mind up to the veracity of the information by making transparent the contributions and changes to that entry over time.
dana boyd says:
Wikipedia appears to be a legitimate authority on a vast array of topics for which only one individual has contributed material. This is not the utopian collection of mass intelligence that Clay values.â€? This misconstrues a dynamic system as a static one. The appropriate phrase is â€œâ€¦for which only one individual has contributed material so far.
I leave the academics of the Wikipedia discussion to the academics. The point I want to make is that Wikipedia is a perfect example of a collaborative site in dire need of some sort of augmented ClaimID microformat.
Clearly. enough people feel Wikipedia needs additional functionality to augment the updating process. Authenticity, authority, identity and reputation all come into play when discussing the meritocracy we call Wikipedia.
Tufte’s Sparklines and the IBM Wikipedia History Flows are fun to look at, but appear to lack enough transparency through to the underlying data to make it more than eye candy. This got me thinking about the role ClaimID and Rapleaf could play in entry maintenance.
Claiming Wikipedia content with ClaimID, your authority measured by Rapleaf, your overall Wikipedia mojo captured by Opinity or iKarma. All ideas worth investigating. For now, I toss up the trial balloon to see what the blog world brings back on the topic.
One things is for certain. Wikipedia is slowly introducing more institutional mechanisms. Let’s hope that some sort of content claiming/reputation system are among them.