[Smt-talk] Wikipedia

kos at panix.com kos at panix.com
Mon Aug 1 18:12:25 PDT 2011

I guess the thread will continue - but if it does, let's be clear that a 
"wiki" is software.  "Wikipedia" is the website under discussion.

On Mon, 1 Aug 2011, Michael Morse <mwmorse at bell.net> wrote:

> The real problem we face is not even the replacement of peer review with 
> arbitrary, profoundly nihilistically-fuelled relativist opinion, nor yet the 
> laziness of a generation schooled to electronic distraction instead of long 
> hours in the library.

I don't see it that way at all.  You're talking about a generation of students 
for whom spending hours in a library will probably never exist, unless they 
want to go on to graduate work in certain topics.  It's not that they're bad 
researchers, but that so much more of what they need is at their fingertips. 
In my day, "instant gratification" carried a negative meaning. Today, it is a 

As far as peer review - it's in a different form, but Wikipedia definitely 
functions in a peer review format.  You can't write anything without others 
seeing what you've done, and if they have issues, they will change it and/or let 
you know.

> Wikipedia represents the establishment of credulous indifference to sources, 
> of undifferentiated and undifferentiating faith in what's available that is 
> at poles from the critical spirit that, so we like to think, has powered 
> inquiry since Aristotle.

With apologies, Michael, but I think this nonsensical false statement is based 
on an erroneous belief of what Wikipedia is, rather than having engaged in it.
Sure, there are poor articles - "Prolongation" and "Heinrich Schenker" being 
among them.  But there are some pretty good articles (mentioned previously), 
where virtually every sentence is footnoted and sourced.  THAT's the way to 
write a good Wikipedia article (and that's the way I write mine).

And for all the complaints - anyone can edit an article and turn something poor 
into something better.  That's another aspect that people forget:  Wikipedia is 
constantly changing.  Maybe your favorite article will remain static for a few 
weeks or months, but you can change that dynamic very easily.  When you finally 
visit the distant library to do your research, you can go back to the article 
and finally enter the needed information and footnotes, even commenting on the 
"talk" page on whether you have issues with the particulars of the topic.

I see this thread has produced at least one person beginning to work on the 
"Prolongation" article - who's editing it as I send this email.

Bob Kosovsky, Ph.D. -- Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts,
Music Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
blog:  http://www.nypl.org/blog/author/44   Twitter: @kos2
   Listowner: OPERA-L ; SMT-TALK ; SMT-ANNOUNCE ; SoundForge-users
--- My opinions do not necessarily represent those of my institutions ---

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