Friday, March 16, 2007

Veni, vidi, vici Wiki

In my column this week at Michigan Business Review, I complain about the way Wikipedia is going. Turns out, it's becoming just another old-school encyclopedia and not the complete source of human knowledge that I had hoped it would become. There are many reasons for this, but one of them is the surprising short-sightedness of Wiki's moderators -- an example of how just a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

I almost spit out my coffee this morning when I listened to a podcast produced by some of Wikipedia's moderators. They were complaining about some of the "trivia" now cluttering up what they consider to be the wonderfully complete entry on the life of JFK. I had to laugh out loud at the thought of a few geeks behind their computers (you can actually hear them clacking away in the background during the podcast) who, armed with their Internet search engines, presumed themselves to be qualified to determine what should be dismissed as "trivia."
And, speaking of trivia, longtime NanoBot watchers might recognize my own teeny-tiny contribution to Wikipedia.
My own personal 15 nanoseconds of fame on Wikipedia can be found in the entry for the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The page says: "President Bill Clinton advocated nanotechnology development. Howard Lovy, a nanotechnology writer, said the Initiative may 'turn out to be one of Clinton's most-important legacies.'"

Here's how that came about. I was at Birmingham's Baldwin Library a couple of years ago making use of the free Internet connection to get some work done. I took a break, stretched and noticed Clinton's autobiography in the new books section. I was surprised to find that Clinton, himself, hardly mentioned his launching of the initiative.

So, I wrote the statement above in my nanotech-themed blog. I was qualified to make the statement, as I had spent the previous three years or so covering nanotech full time. Although it could be argued that I'm not a historian nor a scientist, so what gives me the right to make such a claim and Wikipedia the right to list it as a credible source?

Well, the wonderful thing about history is that it marches on. And we'll see. More here

Clinton makes nanomention of large legacy

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