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Pedia pother

I made the changes to the initial development section in the Wikipedia entry on podcasting and aside from a couple of comments, not much has been said about it. I’m not sure if it was because I actually made the change, or because the new entry is uninteresting and dull. I rather think dull might be good; nothing more neutral than dull.

I expect over time it will gradually grow, though I hope it doesn’t end up peppered with the same names repeated over and over. Seeing that happen again would be like golf–it might be fun to do, but sucks to watch. But watch is what I’ll do; I’m not going to start feeling ownership of the section.

Wikipedia has taken a beating lately, and I think we’ll all be healthier for it. Too many people treated it like the second coming, closing their ears to potential problems. It’s amusing to see them ’suddenly’ become alert to its pitfalls. Fancy. Kids will also be less likely to copy from it for their papers (now having no recourse but to return to plagarizing books from the library). I did get a kick out of Dave Winer’s (tongue-in-cheek perhaps?) suggestion to turn the Wikipedia podcast entry over to Harvard folk, as a precedent for future Wikipedia effort. Yes, nothing like the Harvard touch to bring a diversified view to the world.

As for the edits I made, I used one criteria for judging what material to keep: was the event, software, or person necessary for the initial development of podcasting. Did I capture all of the events, software, and people? I made the assumption that if I did not, someone would add what was missing; hopefully basing their addition on the same criteria.

Scott had a good question in my comments about what to add and not to Wikipedia. He wrote:

Isn’t there any room in Wikipedia for anecdotes? I mean, it’s not like they’re short on storage space. Don’t the meaningless, if accurate, anecdotes make history much more interesting. A strictly historical account of George Washington crossing the Delaware is pretty dry unless you include him throwing a coin across. Chances are, the coin tossing is what will cause you to remember the entire event.

Anecdotal information is the spice in history; as such, you have to know what you’re doing when you use it, because a little bit goes a long way.

I strongly believe in the anecdotal when it comes to a telling of history. When we read a biography of George Patton, there is much we learn about the man when we hear anecdotes such as his slapping a man who was seriously shell-struck, and then having to apologize in front of all his men.

But then we have to look further into the story: about how horrified Patton was at his action when he realized the patient was in a very bad state; how those loyal to him cheered so loudly during his apology that overcome with gratitude, his eyes welled up with unshed tears and he couldn’t finish.

Or was he horrified? Or did his men cheer so loud he couldn’t complete his apology? This is the challenge of anecdotal information, and in the case of Wikipedia, all such should be suspect.

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