July 27, 2005

Changes say it all

Wikipedia, I notice, is now linked to by blogs and sites all the time. While I have known about it for a long time, it was first thrust at me when someone noticed I didn't know what or who "Sith" was. Ever since, I have used it often. (Not found "Sthay" yet, though).

But I'm coming to believe that it is most useful, even fascinating, for what you learn about the world from its very character -- a freely editable work -- and the way its entries change over time. I've watched a few threads like this now, and it's always enlightening.

An example, you asked? Here's one, I've had to do some digging to find this, as you will see.

About a month ago, I looked in Wikipedia for an entry about the 1993 bomb blasts in Bombay. I found one. Stored on answers.com (have to show you this because the entry has changed on Wikipedia), this is what it looked like.

Note the second sentence, which reads: The attacks were the worst wave of criminal violence in that country's history.

Hmm, I thought idly, the "worst wave of criminal violence"? But wait.

Last week, I looked at the same page again. Here's a Google cache of it as it appeared then.

Note the second sentence, which reads: The attacks were the worst bomb explosions in the country's history; various outbreaks of widespread criminal rioting (examples: 1984 Anti-Sikh riots, 1992-93 riots after the destruction of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya, 2002 Gujarat violence) have killed more Indians than these bombs did.

Hmm, I thought idly again, that's an interesting change, now more accurate.

But clearly somebody didn't like this change much. Because when I looked this morning at the entry, here's what the second sentence looked like: The attacks were the worst bomb explosions in the country's history.

As I said, fascinating. Make your own inferences, if you will.


Anonymous said...

Who knows how long it'll last, but for the moment, I changed it back, and started a discussion on the entry's Talk page.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dilip,

I was the one who directed you to the Wikipedia entry for Sith

Wikipedia is a rock-solid information source, and very authoritative

The best part is, anyone can contribute to it and correct errors on it.

My general knowledge has increased manifold ever since I made exploring the Wikipedia a habit, and I'm frankly amazed at the depth of the information

Sudarshan said...

Sorry for the digression. Any updates on the plight of the evicted slum dwellers after the monsoons and MUmbai city being terribly affected.

I went through popular english media and did not find a mention.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Good job, David. Needs to be discussed. I'll check back from time to time.

Vulturo, thanks again for pointing me to Sith. I'm sure Wikipedia is authoritative, but my point here was how even building something like this is full of political problems.

Sudarshan, I should be more on the ball than I am about the evicted slum dwellers. Let me try to find out. Thanks for the nudge.

Sriram, as usual I'm baffled by your comment. I've looked at it for minutes -- well, seconds -- on end, and I can't understand it. Is there a connection to private property that I am missing?

Vikrum said...

¡Qué interesante leer más comentarios de Sriram! Tampoco entiendo su comento (para nada), pero me alegra ver que él haya compartido sus pensamientos. Pues... Sriram, sigue escribiendo.