I have thought about the question below as well, but from a different angle: should we
start trusting blogs more? This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is actually a complex
issue. A few thoughts:
1. some blogs have matured and present well-researched information
2. some blogs are written by people who are notable
3. some blogs are more up-to-date than traditional media-outlets (c.f. Twitter bringing
news faster than CNN during some of the latest crises)
4. more people write blogs than work in traditional media (c.f. Wikipedia having more
editors than Encyclopaedia Britannica)
5. traditional media decrease their presence in both hot spots and cold spots and rely
more and more on wire agencies like Reuters, which means that the content is more
streamlined - or POV in some cases, whereas blogs potentially cover the entire spectrum.
In other words, the world is moving to the internet and if Wikipedia wants to stay ahead
it will need to adapt.
This is, as I said, a complex issue: we cannot trust any old blog, and we shouldn't
(see the "some blogs" comments). But let me just take one Swedish example: one
of the most prominent thinkers in the Swedish debate about the internet is Oscar Swartz
). He is of course interviewed in several
newspapers, and have written at least two books. But his major contributions are made on
his blog (http://swartz.typepad.com/texplorer/
), and other internet sites, not in his
interviews or his books. And it will stay that way for him. He will, when he ends his
career, have made a far lesser stamp in traditional media than on the internet. But
nevertheless, he is an important figure in the Swedish internet culture, and any
encyclopedic article about him worth its salt should acknowledge and reflect that. (By the
way, I don't think I have edited his article, so this is not a way to push POV,
it's just an example. I am sure there are plenty of other examples I could have
mentioned.) With the current situation, can Wikipedia reflect the emerging world order?
In still other words, we may need to think this through a little bit more. Is the Internet
Archive the way to go? Who decide what blogs are reliable sources? And should we try to
bring in more archivists who have already wrestled with this question on saving the
internet for future generations?
Lennart Guldbrandsson, ordförande för Wikimedia Sverige
Tfn: 031 - 12 50 48
Mobil: 070 - 207 80 05
Date: Sat, 8 Aug 2009 13:09:53 +0200
Subject: [Wikipedia-l] Are we running out of sources
Many articles lack sources. I just happened to look at a biography
of a Swedish journalist, born in 1968. He received some fine
awards, and there is no doubt he is notable enough. But the
article has no sources. Ten years ago, in 1999, for a journalist
born in 1958, I would just look him up in the Swedish "Who's who",
which was published every two years. But that title seems to be
discontinued. Or if another issue is ever published, it comes
with much longer intervals.
Such reference works go the same way as printed encyclopedias and
dictionaries. For a young, ambitious journalist today, being in
Facebook and Linkedin (and Wikipedia) counts just as much as being
in Who's who did ten years ago.
Should I use the journalist's Linkedin profile as a source? I
don't think that is acceptable. All sorts of lies could hide
there. And users could remove themselves from Linkedin or edit
their profile at any time. Old issues of Who's who don't change,
they are a stable reference.
But the fact is, Who's who is/was also based on user-submitted
autobiographies. The editors made a list of people who "should"
be in there, and sent invitations with a form where the person
could fill in details about family, education, career,
publications, awards, and hobbies. I'm not sure how the editors
fact checked the entries. Perhaps the risk of public shame was
enough to keep people from lying.
Printed editions have another advantage for the historian. If a
Swedish person "forgot" to mention in the 1945 edition that they
received a German medal of honor in 1938, perhaps that information
can be found in the 1939 edition. In this era of Linkedin and
Facebook profiles, how can we ever dig up information from the
past, that a person wants to hide?
Lars Aronsson (lars(a)aronsson.se)
Aronsson Datateknik - http://aronsson.se
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