aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Britannica averages 3 bugs per entry; Wikipedia averages 4
Nature, the renowned science journal, asked scientific experts to blind-compare selected entries in Wikipedia to their Encylopoedia Britannica counterparts. The reviewers concluded that Britannica has a marginally lower error-rate than Wikipedia.
The exercise revealed numerous errors in both encyclopaedias, but among 42 entries tested, the difference in accuracy was not particularly great: the average science entry in Wikipedia contained around four inaccuracies; Britannica, about three. [...]
“People will find it shocking to see how many errors there are in Britannica,” Twidale adds. “Print encyclopaedias are often set up as the gold standards of information quality against which the failings of faster or cheaper resources can be compared. These findings remind us that we have an 18-carat standard, not a 24-carat one.”
Hear that Orlowski?
John says, “we won!”
According to the AFA and media reports over the past two weeks, in order to avoid a boycott from the extremist gay-hating organization, Ford allegedly agreed to:
1. No longer run ads promoting Jaguar or Land Rover in the gay press.
2. No longer support gay events or organizations.
3. Continue running Volvo ads in the gay press, but no longer tailor those ads to the gay community (i.e., in the future such ads would be the same ads that are run in the mainstream media, rather than the crafting the ads to appeal to a gay readership).
Ford addressed and resolved each of our three concerns regarding the above:
1. Ford announced that it will continue to support gay organizations and gay events in the coming year and beyond.
2. Ford is going to run advertisements in the gay media NOT ONLY promoting the Jaguar and Land Rover brands, but the ads will promote ALL of Fords brands, by name, including Jaguar and Land Rover.
3. Ford states unequivocally that it will continue to tailor its ads for the specific audience it is trying to reach, and then goes one step further. Ford challenges us to keep an eye out on their upcoming ads in order to verify that they will in fact be tailored.
Doug’s in Germany setting up a study abroad program, so I got card duty this year. We had our picture taken (not the best but it is authentic and it was for a good cause - our local animal shelter) and bought our photo cards together. But I was left to print the photos, stuff them into cards, address and mail or otherwise deliver them. A much bigger job than I’d imagined.
As I was hand delivering them all over campus yesterday, it occurred to me that our simple cards are something of a political act. Because, you see, on mantels all around my little town - in amongst the “Good Tidings of Cheer” and “Felice Navidad and “Delight in the true gifts from our savior this Christmas” - there will be me, Doug and our two dogs. Two gay guys sitting between a stuffed Santa and a Christmas Tree.
I like that.
I’m leaving now for a long lonely drive north, made manageable by Madonna , Neil Young, Stevie Wonder and a passel of podcasts! I’ve got my laptop, and a list of Panera Bread shops (where I happily click the EULA without reading it. I can only hope it’s not a non-leaky clickthrough!), so posting should continue unabated.
Hawk on Orlowski
Thomas Hawk responds to Andrew Orlowski’s latest Wikipedia screed (and consciously does not link to it; I do, while holding my nose). I will have more to say as I process the piece, for now a few impressions.
I’ve watched the same folks who doubt and quote and criticize Wikipedia continue to link to them. The site is bigger than its critics and should focus on continuing to develop the experiment rather than getting bogged down in a traditional media formulation of a problem.
Of course, the nature of the project is to listen to critics and respond - admitting problems where it sees them and making reasonable changes to address them - as it did in this case. That’s well and good and as it should be.
On Orlowski, Hawk documents one of his “moral responsibility” problems, which serves to illustrate the-pot-calling-the-kettle-black nature of these critiques.
The MSM - with its vaunted apparatus of editors and ombudsmen and ethics codes and J-school doctrine - has a problematic record of accuracy (to say nothing of moral responsibility) played out daily on cable channels, talk radio, newspapers and newsweeklies (examples chosen at random, and please remember that I am a fan of the MSM).
But, hey, this is their franchise. They set the rules so Wikipedia should live by them.
We can revel in our technical accuracy and still be lying. Politicians do it every day.
When a reporter - whether the Times or the local student paper - quotes our words, they choose the context those words are placed in. That context imparts meaning. Often the wrong meaning. When we tell our stories, we choose the context. With that choice the meaning can be more honest and more complete. Certainly it’s more authentic…
I like to believe that our broadening access to communications technologies means much of our individual rich authenticity can be captured, saved and shared. And if that means a loss of technical accuracy, I’m not convinced that’s a loss of anything worth saving.
So with Wikipedia I’ll stand by my wish for a new emergence of that old oral tradition. And enjoy its honest inaccuracies along with those presented each day by both the “objective” press and the “balanced” press.