Monday, November 20, 2006

Wikipedia vs. Human Nature

I often find criticism of Wikipedia more interesting than Wikipedia itself. Case in point, Jason Scott's speech on the Wiki project:

Jimbo Wales is a Randian Objectivist. This means that in his particular interpretation of that philosophical thought, he does not like to interfere, he likes to give general ideas, he likes to trust in people, and he likes that the truth, that the truth represents an honest objective entity that cannot be questioned. A is A. That is to say, if somebody says "this is blue", no amount of your stupid liberal whining is going to make it not blue. That's the theory behind that aspect of Randian Objectivism.

What he did with Wikipedia was, put forward a number of very simple credos: Wikipedia will have a neutral point of view; Wikipedia will always cite it's sources; Wikipedia will never be an original source of information; and then said: "Go with it."


When we look at something old (I'll leave it with this thought) when we look at something old, when you walk into an old church, when you walk into a place, and you find say a handrail, and your hand goes down, your hand goes down and touches the handrail. You do not find the hand rail up here, you do not find the handrail down here. This is because at some point, somebody who was a designer, who was an architect, looked at where human beings were, and put the handrail where human beings are, so that a hundred years from now, four hundred years from now you can still put your hand there.

That is an important design aesthetic, sometimes that is forgotten. Things where they forget that, for instance when language is written, which is full of hype and horror and whatever else, say in the 19th century talking about -- "oh, in the future airships will do this and there will be wondrous wires and you can..." -- those words are forgotten, they weren't designed for human beings, they were designed to sell a

When Wikipedia started out, Wikipedia was designed for an idea, a theoretical idea. An idea of human knowledge edited by everybody, with no idea of how human beings actually are. Over time, Wikipedia is becoming an accurate handrail, it's letting people now put their hand where it is, and it's not the place that I think Jimbo Wales expected it was going to be.

via Deep Furrows

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