Tag Archives: wikipedia

Bringing anarchy to a Wiki

A Wiki, is a website that allows its users to add, edit, delete or change its own content. WikiPedia (http://www.wikipedia.org/) is a free encyclopedia that functions in just this manner.

My friend Matthew spent some time earlier this year deliberately trying to sabotage WikiPedia. I think it came about out of boredom, and mainly focused on changing entries subtly so they included a reference to goats. For instance doctoring the page about US president George Bush so the first sentance read; George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the 43rd and current U.S. President, serving from January 20, 2001 and he is not a goat.

All of Matthew’s edits were reversed, usually within minutes, sometimes seconds and occasionally taking a little longer. So the system works. Matt (and my) IP address (the thing that uniquely identifies computers on the internet) was relatively quickly banned from making edits for a week. Apparently there are actually many people that spend incongruous amounts of time editing WikiPedia, and indeed have become addicted to it. Bizarre.

Initially I thought maybe doing the same as Matthew could constitute as a work of art somehow, but then remembered that WikiPedia is invaluable to me as a research tool and is one of the few resources that out-and-out trust what it says. This comes down to the ethos of WikiPedia editors and its rules and regulations, two of which are;

  • Neutral Point of View: All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), representing fairly and without bias all significant views that have been published by reliable sources.
  • Attribution: Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a publisher of original thought. The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is whether material is attributable to a reliable published source, not whether it is true. Wikipedia is not the place to publish your opinions, experiences, or arguments.

Much as these rules create a brilliant resource, they (purposefully) prevent people from using WikiPedia as a forum for original thought or self-promotion and it is enforced strictly. Again, I agree with this whole heatedly, but can’t help but think its not fair that all the successful artists, musicians and writers are on WikiPedia and may derive promotional value from that. Whereas anyone unknown or aspirational can’t get onto the resource, because nobody knows who they are and nothing is published elsewhere about them. Catch 22.

I created a WikiPedia page about my Dad, to see if his credentials were enough to allow his page to be left on and not deleted. So far this has worked http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_lindley has been live on WikiPedia for a few weeks now, despite containing a warning that “this article lacks information on the notability (importance) of the subject matter”. So not perfect. I could probably put something on the page that would give it some kind of importance, though I’m not entirely sure what. I should put he is father to aspirational artist Joseph, which would maybe get my foot in the door.

I came across a kind of paradox that will, potentially, allow me to achieve my desire of having my own WikiPedia entry. I guess the reason I want this is that is feels like a sign that I would have arrived as an artist, if the WikiPedia editors think that I have the required notability. How it would work, is that I systematically sabotage WikiPedia, but work to a rationale. Realistically I think it would have to involve an aspect of networking too, for instance getting multiple other people to help me as the task is too big for one. Otherwise I could write a computer program to do it. If I can get around the constant re-editing by the WikiPedia monitors, and alter something sufficiently thought-provoking or controversial, enough times and involve enough people; ultimately I could evoke so much interest that I could then get media coverage (even if it is local) or better some sort of comment from a critic. This in turn should constitute relevance and notability enough that my page on WikiPedia would be allowed.

It may seem a bit ridiculous, with that long explanation, but I really think it would work and if its done in the right way it could actually have artistic merit.

Reflections on This & Bibliography

I slept for a pittyful hour or so this morning, with birds tweeting and the light endlessly seeping into my room. I wasn’t working, rather my head was looping various thoughts, some about WikiPedia – I spent a lot of time reading it yesterday – and also Nena’s 99 Red Balloons came back to haunt me again. So I’m not the freshest daisy today!

Today is the day to hand in my journal. This, I think, will be the last entry for the adjuged 1st year journal. I thought it maybe useful to reflect on how I’ve developed through writing it. Also I want to state its omissions.

I hope that I’ll continue to write this journal, writing has proved to be a valuable thinking tool as well as delivering gratification simply to try and articulate my thoughts. Writing is something I used to hate, but the older I get the more enticed I am by the beauty of it. Also, as I’m slowly becoming desolved into a world dominated by Google and the Blogosphere, I should make a stand. Take the fight to them.

Incidental- I asked one of the IT guys in Chatham if there would be any mice lying around, for me to dismantle, for my Autotalk button. He’s a nice guy, we ended up chatting about Freecycle (http://www.freecycle.org/) – just another facet of the dawn of Web 2.0 and the internet’s constancy of innovation.

I’m not sure if its evident, but I certainly feel like my writing has progressed through the practice I’ve had here. Maybe it’s just a confidence thing, either way, a good feeling.

Incidental 2- For Autotalk, paint the floor black and invite the audience to write something down if they’d prefer that to leaving a recording of their voice? Maybe getting too wishy-washy.

I’ve tried to be referential to other artists, as I believe that’s an area where I generally falls down, in terms of being assessed for University, but I still don’t think I’ve fixed the problem. I guess its because I’ve only been exposed to the art world (and actually looked at it, in anything other than a casual sense) since September last year and the majority of the time I’ve been relatively self-obsessed. Mainly looking at other artists’ work as it relates to my own progress. Also I harbour a strong belief that if I like something, for no particular reason, there is no need to spoil it by over-analysis and being overly critical. Or indeed critical at all. So maybe that will be a weak spot of my journal.

Another thing that I know I haven’t done “to specification” is reviews. I have written only two reviews, I think, as a result of sitting down after having come to the decision to write a review. I do, however, have significant other review-type-text that hopefully will fill the void, if it can be distinguishsed from general musings.

Lastly; a bibliography.

The one text that I’ll mention (again) is Brian Eno’s A Year with Swollen Appendicies. I don’t think I’ve used any material directly from it, but as I previously stated it has been a useful tool for generating confidence and, to an extent, has probabl been the largest influence on my style of writing.

Otherwise I haven’t looked at any literature to find out about things or gather inspiration. As you may have correctly presumed, WikiPedia is generally my first port of call regarding pretty much anything (particularly anything that, should be, factual). If WikiPedia itself doesn’t satisfy my curiosity I would then revert to traditional web searching using Google (althought depending on the subject this is sometimes my starting point). To catalog my browsing throughout the writing of this journal would result in a list of thousands of unconnected websites, and not really mean anything useful.

Incidental 3- my good friend David, from my hometown/school classes is having an interview for Interactive Arts today. It would be so good to do some collaborative work, were he to get on.
Other sources are the television and the Guardian. I’ve never previously got into reading a news paper (apart from the Metro, but does that count?), but with a little practice I’ve learnt my way around this particular one and enjoyed reading it a lot, as well as doing the “quick” crossword whenever I can – normally being shamed by my wiki-saboteur friend Matthew.

Breakfast time now I think, then after David’s interview I can go home, relax and catch up on yesterday’s missed sleep.

Conservapedia

Created to combat the, alledgedly, anti-USA and anti-Christian WikiPedia, Conservapedia.com has this about Dinosaurs;

Dinosaurs were created on day 6 of the creation week approximately 6,000 years ago, along with other land animals, and therefore co-existed with humans.

Oh dear.