Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Funny anti-blog anti-Wikipedia article by a librarian Greg Hill who manages to mangle the spelling of Dan Gillmor and Dave Barry's name while trying to argue that "librarians abhor using reference sources that don't have established credibility editorial rigor..." ;-)

I don't usually like to link to stupid articles, but this one's too ironic to just ignore.

via Dan Gillmor

Dan Gillmor
UPDATE: Trudy Schuett posted an extraordinary exchange of e-mails with the Alaska librarian, who has the nerve to say he knows of "no typos or mis-statements in that column, unless they are those of the sources I cite, and every point in my column stemmed from multiple sources. As a rule, there's not enough space in a 700-word column to list multiple sources, but I can readily produce them."

No, he can't. He can't possibly produce a citation that explains misspelling my name and Dave Barry's. He might alibi getting the name of my book wrong, because he quotes an early working title that I used in blog postings here. But even there, a tiny amount of due diligence would have produced the correct title.

I worship librarians as a rule, but I'm going to make an exception in this case.

Truely unbelievable.


News-Miner - Past News: "A computer programmer from Alabama named Jimmy Wales created Wikipedia in 2001, inviting Web surfers to add articles on any topic, and they did, with 1 million articles being added as of last September. Wales admires novelist Ayn Rand's Objectivist Philosophy, which the American Heritage Dictionary defines as a doctrine 'holding that all reality is objective and external to the mind and that knowledge is reliably based on observed objects and events.' So he believes that contributors should 'write about what people believe, rather than what is so.' Instead of gathering a stable of acknowledged authorities to write its articles, as do traditional encyclopedias, Wikipedia describes itself as 'collaboratively edited and maintained by thousands of users.'"

Obviously if contributers write about what people believe then what results isn't objective (within which "reality is ... external to the mind ... based on observed objects ...."). Rand's philosophy is mis-interpreted by this author to support an otherwise valid opinion (too bad for Rand and those who misunderstand her but good for "librarians" who prefer fact over opinion). Joi Ito also notes that that the author isn't too keen on validating his own sources (ie. doesn't check the spelling of a couple of names he references). This also weakens Greg Hills' credibility. Again, too bad. I agree with the article. The computer has attracted many uneducated and uninformed users -- look at the amount of spam and pop-up ads which make the greatest source of knowledge we've ever had into a wasteland of useless information. Think of how many days you might search Google to find ... uh, anything simple (the birthdate of an actor, for example). In addition to blogs that detail the boring lives of losers and wikis filled with unsubstantiated "facts" there are countless chatrooms with inane small talk and bulletin boards filled with "me too" comments which add nothing to their content. Good advice, Greg. Poor article. Go back to NOT linking stupid articles, JoEE EEto ... your slip is showing (you're spreading spite and being anti-intellectual... making fun of the other girls for wearing jeans when the popular girls called each other up and agreed to all wear shorts).


mr. hill is right on track - blogs and wikis are overestimated and information available on the net by means of the writings of more or less anonymous persons hasn't got much credibility.

so what? maybe its getting some in future... or maybe not. won't change a thing...

thomas woelfer

Do not drink Diet Soda's. I am 35 now, at 17, began drinking diet coke (5-8 cans a day) My dizzy spells started about 3 months later. They progresses to a quick loss of conciousness, and epilepsy. I had mentioned 12 Years ago to my doctors that there may be a correlation, but it was dismissed. Severe anxiety, depression, and manic depression ensued. I eventually had brain surgery for my seizures. (of which in the hospital I was still drinking 4-5 diet cokes per day). I spent 3 years on the Board of Directors of the Epilepsy Foundation of MA and RI. I had what I thought was a seizure while I slept (12 weeks ago) started to do research on my suspicion of diet coke. I stopped drinking diet soda, my headaches stopped, I can think clear, etc.. I have classic aspartame posioning. The same exact symptoms are found for aspartame poisoning (exact- dizzy spells, seizures, aniety) In the process of suing Diet Coke. Don't drink it, it will be off the market within a year

To the people who can't imagine this is true: Here's my analogy
Aspartame is an artificial chemical, that most would agree can't be great for you. It breaks down to a type of formaldehyde. Diet Coke drinkers don't just drink 1 or two cans, many drink 6-12 per day. I feel a can or so a day, and you may not have any health problems. I liken it to booze. You drink a beer or two a day, and your fine. You drink 10 per day, your drunk all day, potentially have liver problems in a few years (along with a host of other issues)
10 Diet cokes per day, you have headaches, the chemical dries up the dopamine in your brain (aniety, depression) and for some reason unbeknownst to me, seizures.
This is classic aspartame poisoning, thousands of identical cases across the country.

Sean, posting again from above. FYI, 60 Minutes is working on a piece on this, and there is talk about having me on it. I also am an intelligent business owner (despite some probable spelling errors in the above posting)
I own, and operate as well as a network of dating site Hot LA Singles etc.. I am launching Hot American soon. I regularly correspond with Coke, on how my story will be on all of my Hot Singles sites (which will soon have hundreds of thousands- hopefully millions) of health concious, hip, attractive, 18-35 Y/O's Probably diet coke drinkers. I'll be in court soon with Coke, but they know the lawsuites are coming, and have appropriatly laid off 3000 employees. Most who are intelligent believe to hire the couple of hundred lawyers they will need in the coming years. (I think they'll just buy a law firm

The computer has attracted many uneducated and uninformed users -- look at the amount of spam and pop-up ads which make the greatest source of knowledge we've ever had into a wasteland of useless information. Think of how many days you might search Google to find ... uh, anything simple (the birthdate of an actor, for example). In addition to blogs that detail the boring lives of losers and wikis filled with unsubstantiated "facts" there are countless chatrooms with inane small talk and bulletin boards filled with "me too" comments which add nothing to their content.

"The computer has attracted many uneducated and uninformed users"... Yeah, I'll chime in on that one with you, ironically more so after reading your post. There's a lot of crap on the net, and you just have to avoid it. However, I'd go out on a limb here and counter that your so-called "real-life" has even more uneducated and uninformed users... as demonstrated by my interactions with Americans in the Southwest, how voters still believed the media propaganda that was being fed to them, etc.

How many days would one search Google for an actors' birthday? Hmmm... maybe about 7 seconds? The ability to find what you're looking for on the web isn't rocket science; you need a basic understanding of search, keywords, and where to find what you're looking for. Just because you are unable to properly discern information doesn't mean that everyone else is...

"In addition to blogs that detail the boring lives of losers"... I guess that's why even CNN got on the bandwagon and had an "Election Blog", and why many of the most influential people of our times are starting blogs like it's going out of style... which it's not about to anytime soon.

So it's quite easy for you to sit back and poke remarks at all this without really understanding it. If you don't want to have your say in an age where collaboration and sharing replace unilateralism and greed, then kindly take a step back and wait by the sidelines. :)

I've spent 10 hours a day for 10 years online. I've started approx. 20 blogs and as many wikis. I've kept abreast of all the latest internet technologies. BTW, blogs and wikis have all but been replaced by CMS content management applications and RSS just as search engines are on the way out and services like technorati are on the way in. I consider myself an "expert" on using search engines... some searches are simple and some information one would think simple is complex and time consuming; but all searches are inundated with ads, porn, and RELATIVELY useless matches (I exaggerated only a little about finding an actor's birthdate though I visited several sites looking for Eva Gabore's death date). Things improve quite a bit with ad filtering software; though they could stand much more improvement yet. Since Clinton, the establishment has mostly avoided the slow service, low bandwidth, and congested servers online. And big name chats have all but disappeared. If things don't improve soon, people will abandon the internet as all but useless. Admittedly, the culprit is "Joe Public" and his search for mindless entertainment and get rich quick schemes -- not the "influential people" you mention. It's not necessarily "worse" online... just more of the same nonsense as in RL.

There is nothing quite so pathetic as flaming someone over spelling.

I do not think that it's intended as a "flame" over spelling, rather that the references in a published article should simply be researched and correct (i.e., the author also got the title of Gillmor's book wrong).

Come of folks. You don't see the irony in a post by a librarian blaming blogs and wikis for not having "established credibility (sic) editorial rigor" and then mangling two names and the title of a book? We're talking about a published article with, I assume, an editor.

And I have to agree generally with Steve. The Internet is becoming more and more widespread and will increasingly represent a scientific random sample of the population. It provides a voice to anyone who wants that. So yes, many voices will be stupid just like you would probably think many people are stupid. The key is to how this information gets aggregated, sorted, filtered and potentially helps turn stupid and ignorant people into slightly more informed and hopefully smarter people.

I am a little concerned these days just exactly how much control government should have over the Internet. Although this doesn't seem much like a problem over the West and a number of developing countries in Asia, the Chinese government is progressively restricting the "voices" its 1B+ population should "hear". And there is really no systematic rule to the censorship either.

To my dismay, I recently found out that both my company website, which carries a professional blog, and my personal blog, have been blocked from within China.

In any case, I believe that the Internet is only as good as how much the controlling authority wants it to be.

"Eva GaborE" or "Eva Gabor" ?

For the latter:

Took me, well, about 16 seconds to have that page located, loaded and displayed on my computer...

"The key is to how this information gets aggregated, sorted, filtered...."

I had two points I wanted to make in my post: 1. Objectivism is mis-interpreted. 2. Ito is a humanist.

Humanism, loosely "Democracy", suggests we can vote on truth and / or that "to err is human" (ie. we can add up everyone's errors and the truth will somehow emerge).

Objectivism was the example: How does one arrive at what is objective when contributers write about their beliefs rather than "substantiated" fact (I also have trouble with science as a philosophy -- correlation without causation may substantiate but only "proves" a thing to some degree of error ... at best).

Having made that clear, I apologize for the negative tone of my post, for the spelling errors, and for trying to simplify my ideas using "example" (which should be understood as parables and not put to the rigors of stop watches and spell checks).

Yes, I saw the irony. But we don't make fun of people we support and Ito obviously disagreed with the librarian else it wouldn't have been "funny" to belittle him in public (it was ironic but not funny to me).

Jumping on the internet band-wagon is the popular thing to do; though believe me, wikis and blogs have limited usefulness (as you will see once the novelty wears off). There are countless sites on the net and REALLY zeroing in on useful information is time consuming (signal to noise ratio is more noise than signal).

Finally: Ito hits on a point of genius (quote at top of post)! Artificial intelligence seems possible this way. However, to the detriment of humanism, we must ask if intelligence which results this way is REALLY human or if it is -- indeed -- ARTIFICIAL.

To me, it is a "tower of babble" and / or a "many headed beast". It aspires toward god but leaves god, as an ideal INDIVIDUAL, out of the picture. It doesn't suggest "intelligence" (in the sense of *intelligent design*).

I thought that the article was entirely too funny... I especially thought the bit about most bloggers not allowing comments because they prefer their monologues to be the best bit. Coming from a newspaper reporter, where they ALWAYS print all of the opinions of the readers in a timely fashion.

For an interesting take on this subject, involving a sizeable audience of (I'm assuming) senior librarian types at the USA Library of Congress, watch David Weinberger trace knowledge from Plato and Aristotle through Descartes to the clash between official objectivity and personal subjectivity, moving deftly to the power and believability of human voice on ... of all things ... blogs (especially those with comments capability, which I think must be well in the majority ;-)

Jon, thank you for this pointer. I watched this event on CSPAN a few days ago, but I wasn't able to record it.

During this talk, I think David was the one who mentioned (while talking about 'the shape of knowledge') an experimental German weblog that used a number of interesting experimental constructs to represent recent German history - temporal, geospatial, personal stories, etc.

But listening to his talk, I'm realizing that maybe it was one of the other speakers at that event.. (who aren't in the streaming video) so I'm out of luck...

Does anyone know the URL of this German site? If you do, could you email it to me?

Telling complicated stories like this, interactively, is something I'm really interested in..

I don't remember David mentioning that, either.

The German blog sounds interesting ... very. If anyone finds out what the URL is, I'd like to know it.

Can you say FUD? I knew you could!

Jon, I found the history website I posted about.

It is called LeMO and its at

Looks very interesting, even though I don't speak German..

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