Wednesday, October 19, 2005

My take on the the latest anti-wikipedia screed


I would argue, in fact, that the overall quality of an encyclopedia is best judged by its weakest entries rather than its best. What's the worth of an unreliable reference work?


'Now, all the same criticisms can (and should) be hurled at segments of the mainstream media. And yet, at its best, the mainstream media is able to do things that are different from - and, yes, more important than - what bloggers can do.

So why should we judge the mainstream by its best, but the amateurs by their weakest?

Sure, mainstream media *can* produce quality, well researched material, tending away from extremism. But so can blogs.

You want to argue a stronger case : that its more likely for a media *funded* by people buying content (or advertisers) to produce quality than for a pack of amateurs.

I wouldn't be so sure :

If there's an argument to be made that the market for information is better than the gift-economy, its that reader / customers *recognise* quality and switch their custom and attention to it.

But it's increasingly looking as though mainstream media has discovered that it doesn't really need to produce much more than sensationalism, opinion and loose facts in order to win customers.

And if you're going to base your faith in what customers recognise anyway; then why not cut out the middle man and trust the readers to recognise it on wikipedia and in the blogosphere? Are the blogs any worse than media in the hard to measure, but most important metric : 'attention paid to quality'?

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