I wrote this letter in response to his1 December 19 column. The letter sank without a trace, despite that it was admirably concise and pithy - if I do say so myself.
Today Grant Barrett, co-host of Public Radio’s A Way with Words, complained, “Wikipedia is not reliable. There are times when I’ve entered information into a page, gone back later, and found someone has, excuse me, crapped all over my work.”
I have long advised my students not to cite Wikipedia as a source, and not to believe anything found therein without cross-checking other sources. After learning what I will relate to you below, I’ve revised that advice: Now I tell 'em, don’t go to Wikipedia at all.
A meeting of the San Diego Software Industry Council. The subject: What will Web 3.0 look like?
“Why don’t we know?” asked one venture capitalist. “Are we idiots?”
The VC was pandering to an in-group audience. The implied answer was, No, we’re not idiots, we are successful, sophisticated investors, entrepreneurs, and scholars of the web!
But y’know what? The truth is, yes, we are idiots. We are idiots because of technology colonization, and we fall for it every time.
Fifteen years ago the World Wide Web came along, and what did we do with it? We used it for push-publishing, for banner ads, and to sell stuff from web storefronts. In other words, we treated the WWW like an electronic magazine, or another television channel.
Carl Sagan conjectured that early diurnal mammals feasted on the eggs of nocturnal dinosaurs. He remarked whimsically that a modern breakfast of chicken eggs is among the few relics of our immemorial joust against the dragons. So I think he wouldn’t mind that I spoof his book’s title for this nonsense column.
Let me describe two very different academic careers.