Wiki me this

Here's my .02$ on the wikipedia research controversy. As a practical matter, research should include multiple sources to avoid inaccuracies in any reference, and facts critical to a serious paper should be cross-checked and ideally come from primary sources. Even Britannica isn't a totally accurate source of information (nod to Bumpkins for reminding us of this), and according to Nature is actually in the Wikipedia ballpark. Also, in this age of proliferating media, you have to be smart about where you get your information. Sciences and maths tend to be stronger on Wikipedia than humanities, as the latter tend to require more subjective interpretations and benefit from individual voices, something that Wikipedia is intentionally biased against. History and Literature are both fields full of grey areas, and also where there are no "hard" answers in the way that there are in science and math.

Anyhow, the Wikipedia ideology is an interesting one and I think begs important questions about responsibility and knowledge in our age of information proliferation. Who really gets to decide that something is true? Is it better to give academics and specialists a monopoly on information and truth? Or is it better to open the correctness of information to a more democratic process that might perpetuate common misperceptions and innacuracies? Either way there's a chance that things might not be "right", and it sort of begs a larger question of whether by having access to more information we have a better hold on an objective reality. My knee jerk response based on a few years alive would be an emphatic yes, but it's worth thinking about for a little bit. The huge net of data we've surrounded ourselves with is ultimately just that: a bunch of data and very much a construct; how often does it really correspond to the outside world? I've always felt there to be a nagging doubt there that's not so much acknowledged and it's kind of interesting to see it made relavent as the accuracy of major sources of information comes under close scrutiny.

Something else that I really never thought of for wikis and blogging both was the potential for group collaboration. For some reason it made me think of the orange project/elephant's dream and it also occurred to me that it might be an interesting experiment to do a TV show with a wiki script. Studio47 is looking at helping CCTV do a TV show in continuous production and I thought this might be an interesting idea. There's a pretty pronounced chance, however, that the whole thing would be so scatterbrained that it wouldn't even be worth doing, but a limited access list might fix that. Who knows.

I'm really fascinated by the whole cybertext thing too. It really twists my mind to take my concept of literature and apply it to this medium in which there is no beginning and end kind of structure. As someone who writes movies reasonably often I spend a lot of time considering the order and flow of events and action, and it's so strange to consider something a "literature" that doesn't have that pre-arranged sequence. I thought about it for awhile and wondered what such a medium might be good for, one where you sort of wander around and piece things and impressions together. What kind of things would you want to use this medium to communicate? It makes a lot of sense, I think, so look at it as a try at authenticity of experience in a modern world of fragmentation and media oversaturation. This is kind of how I think I accumulate information about things and form impressions I suppose; I guess you could almost look at it as a medium that stresses the constructedness of meaning and continuity. It makes me think a little bit of sculpture and installation kind of art, where there isn't a proscribed way to take the piece in and you sort of develop a sense of some overall structure with time.