Menu Home End users Hacking Humour Interviews Opinons Reviews All articles Issues Books
Free Software magazine
Steven Goodwin [opinions]

No news, but no snooze [wikipedia] [reporting] [responsibility] [rant] [iplayer]

Two things piqued my interest recently. One was the iPlayer protests at the BBC, the other was the Wiki tracker project. More specifically, it was the reporting of these events. In the case of the former, it went virtually unreported and made me proud of our independent and open news sources and reporting network. The latter highlighted (again) the many issues of user-generated content. Is there a half-way house?

So granted, an attack on the BBC’s monopolistic practices isn’t likely to feature on the BBC nightly news (or on their web site), but it’’s an important story that surprisingly no one wanted to report. Even the opposition news channels, such as ITN, Sky, or Channel 4. Basically, the BBC can’t (won’t?) make their streaming TV technology available to users of Linux or Mac’s. Naturally, this has irked a few geeks. And while I’m personally not bothered that I can’t watch the BBC’s output online (there’s only two shows they’ve produced in the last year that have interested me) I will stand for the right of those that do not want to pay the Windows Tax just to watch shows their license fee has already paid for.

However, it does slightly annoy me that my license fee is being spent on things I can not use, but no more than the fact they spent millions of our money on digital TV despite the fact I couldn’t receive it in my area, and had to pay a DigiBox Tax when it did arrive. There is a difference between these two scenarios, but I’m not sure why. The BBC owe me eighty quid in both cases.

And the Wiki tracker project is another case of the self-serving hypocrisy of Wikipedia. (ObComment: yes, I understand the irony of making self-serving hypocritical statements in an attempt to troll people to this blog!) When Wiki editors change content, “correct” vandalism, or delete entries because they deem them unimportant they’re serving their own interests. And this is seen as a good thing. Power to the people. W00t. But when companies do this, it’s bad. Not mitigation, or damage control, or removal of defaming material. Different people have different truths. Our perceptions are different. But the little guy is always deemed to be right. Alas, the inclusion of a hierarchy of administrators and editors eliminates whatever groupthink concept Wikipedia is aiming for, and becomes a corporate entity in its own right, with its own ideals. When a hive mind gets its queen, a fundamental weakness is introduced.

Site note about viewpoint: Yes—it is bad form for Diebold to remove all criticism from their entry, but the fact they did should tell the editors that there’s something they’re not happy with and/or potentially libelous. There are three sides to the story: yours, mine, and the truth. I generally read three newspapers, watch two different news stations, and read numerous blogs each day. I read left and right bias continually, in an attempt to understanding something approximating the truth, but I’m probably no where near.

There are three sides to the story: yours, mine, and the truth

Site note about companies: As I’ve said before, companies are not run by companies—they’re run by individuals, and who’s to say a Sony fan boy working at Sony didn’t make the edits blamed on the company as a whole? Or made by the Diebold HR person fearing for their job, because of some erroneous claim. People used to deride information on the web for being as accurate as a Sunday Sport story about buses found on the moon. Now people seem to believe information found on the web, so we must be more careful. With power comes responsibility, yada yada yada.

Technical note on Wiki tracking: some IP’s are shared by hundreds, if not thousands, of different people from different companies. Blocking on IP has problems so don’t treat it as a panacea, as it has done.

So I’ll admit that this isn’t much of a blog entry. More of a rant. But for some, this is news that is moderately impartial and fairly unbiased. At least these words are my own...


Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article are permitted worldwide, without royalty, in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.