Sunday, June 26, 2011

Isaac Newton Versus Alan Moore, or Is Wikipedia Written by Obsessive Geeks?

In traditional encyclopedias, the size of the entry is proportional to the editors’ estimate of the subject’s importance. Flash forward to Wikipedia. The hive mind of the Crowd decides these hierarchies.

No film rights for the Principia
Number of words in Sir Isaac Newton’s entry (excluding bibliographical material): 7,402 words.

Number of words in Alan Moore’s entry (excl. bibliographical material):  9,719 words.

On the Internet, the discovery of gravity and the creation of the most precise description of the Universe post-Ptolemy and pre-Einstein is trumped by the dude who wrote Watchmen. (Einstein, BTW, comes in at a respectable but still hopelessly infra-Moorean 7,769 words.)

Welcome to the new Dark Ages. Newton geeks of the world, arise!

(But I wonder: what would Sheldon Cooper say?)

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Joan Parra said...

Don't know if you're familiar with the work af Andrew Keen, who was basically pointing at the same phenomenon in his essay 'The Cult of the Amateur' back in 2007. You know, the web 2.0 is ruining our culture on so on. I don't quite agree with that view. Our culture is safe *because* it's changing.
And about Wikipedia, I had my own experiences with it. In fact, I got involved one hot summer long with the catalan edition. But after a couple of scuffles with other users I understood the whole point of the Wiki. It's not about helping others get information, but about giving exposure to one's personal views or interests. So I'm not particulary surprised that Allan Moore or Catalonia's own national korfball team are allowed a much bigger dungeon in Horrorpedia's hell than they initially would seem to deserve.

Financial Translator said...

I am familar with Keen and I am equally ambivalent about his views:
The flaw in some debates between pro and anti-Web 2.0 people is that they are both technological determinists, albeit with different agendas. As for Wikipedia, there was a NYRB essay about the struggle between exclusionists and inclusionists that is very interesting. Also, there is a story about Wikipedia devoting a lengthy entry to a bolt used in bicycle handlebars and the firestorm that prompted. Both very interesting.