The Truth According To Wikipedia
"The Truth According To Wikipedia" is the title of the English version of a documentary from Dutch public broadcaster VRPO. Their documentary program "Backlight" addresses many different social, economic, political or scientific topics and is popular among Dutch intellectuals from both sides of the political spectrum. This time, the topic is Wikipedia and truth:
Google or Wikipedia? Those of us who search online -- and who doesn't? -- are getting referred more and more to Wikipedia. For the past two years, this free online "encyclopedia of the people" has been topping the lists of the world's most popular websites. But do we really know what we're using? Backlight plunges into the story behind Wikipedia and explores the wonderful world of Web 2.0. Is it a revolution, or pure hype?
Director IJsbrand van Veelen goes looking for the truth behind Wikipedia. Only five people are employed by the company, and all its activities are financed by donations and subsidies. The online encyclopedia that everyone can contribute to and revise is now even bigger than the illustrious Encyclopedia Britannica.
Does this spell the end for traditional institutions of knowledge such as Britannica? And should we applaud this development as progress or mourn it as a loss? How reliable is Wikipedia? Do "the people" really hold the lease on wisdom? And since when do we believe that information should be free for all? In this film, "Wikipedians," the folks who spend their days writing and editing articles, explain how the online encyclopedia works. In addition, the parties involved discuss Wikipedia's ethics and quality of content. It quickly becomes clear that there are camps of both believers and critics.
Why is it that facts about 9/11 are so zealously spun on Wikipedia? Do we blame it on the CIA? Can agreement on politically charged topics be reached with a consensus model at all? This documentary, while not mentioning the 9/11 truth movement's hardship with Wikipedia, addresses some of the very phenomena causing this self-sustaining censorship, such as 'crowd truth'. In a tale about gatekeeping, authority, individuality, self-expression, but most of all: veracity, founders of Wikipedia and various notable intellectuals express their passionate opinions on the subject.
Perhaps it's a good idea for 911blogger to keep an eye out for the premiere of the film Truth in Numbers later this year. Note that apparently James Woolsey (former CIA chief), Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky are among those featured.