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I Worship the We Yet to Come


Today I sing the body electronic, with, yup, a little cheerier news just in time for the holidays.
Nature looked at encyclopedias and found that, at least for science articles, Wikipedia pretty much measures up to Encyclopedia Britannica, which is the gold standard (although, as someone in the Nature article points out, with enough errors to make it “an 18-carat standard” rather than 24). Wikipedia, if you don’t know it, and you probably do if you managed to make your way here, but in any case, Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia written by whoever cares to contribute. Sure, it has problems (like allowing a fake biographical entry of a real person) but it’s still usually a great place to go for background on many and diverse subjects.
The Nature article also mentions that it surveyed 1000 of its own authors, who are some of the best in their fields since they get published in the prestigious journal, and found that “less than” 10 percent of them help to update Wikipedia articles. To me that sounds like “nearly” 10 percent, and a decent percentage of scientists willing to get involved in an anonymous enterprise.
So what’s the yay factor? Well, besides being a fine, new delivery system for porn (no, you can get your own links if you must), there’s also all that Star Trek-ian uniting of human potential potential that the Internet promises, and that, just a little, not to be too aw-shucksy and geeky and late-night dorm room and stuff like that, but just a little, comes through with Wikipedia. There’s a place for knowledgeable people to share what they know, and basically it works.
Humans gather and the information outweighs the idiocy. This is good, this should provide a glimmer of optimism to any follower of the news, this is why today I sing the body electronic.
Which, as of course you know, and speaking of smart people, is practically the title of a poem from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, which is being celebrated this year on the 150th anniversary of its publication. I wish someone had told me earlier, but at least we’ve still got a few days left to break out the bubbly to Walt.
I, alas, of course know the line best from the song from Fame, possibly from the movie but more likely I remember it from when it must have been used in the TV show some time. But don’t worry – I’m leaving Wikipedia’s articles on Whitman alone.

Share  Posted by Deborah Klosky at 1:33 PM | Permalink

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