Wikipedia 'to make universities obsolete'

Look out, Old Guard – it's the 'Khmer Rouge' in nappies


For most web surfers, the Wikipedia is simply an occasionally useful online resource that needs to be taken with a huge sackful of salt. For others, it's a poor excuse for a real encylopedia. But for its proponents, it's nothing short of revolutionary! It's Emergent[*], you see.

A column by veteran tech writer Al Fasoldt has provoked some furious defenses of the site, in a similar spirit to the ones we received here recently. What they lack in coherence, they make up for in passion. And in the absence of decent Flame of the Week material recently, we hope this will provide the same vicarious thrills.

Taking to his scooter, one young Wiki-fiddler roars into action.

"Old World is under attack. The authority of the book, authority of the journalist, authority of the teacher, is under direct assault by Wikipedia and other online efforts," claims the poster, 'Stephen'.

"It should come as no suprise [sic] a journalist and teacher ganged up on Wikipedia. Both have much to loose [sic]. Their claim? Authority. We will see much more of this backlash by the old guard in the future," he continues, confidently.

"The education system its self [sic] will come into question eventually. Universities are formed around libraries and libraries are physical things that require physical campuses. Take away the library, provide full access to every book ever writen [sic] online, imagine the consequences."

Which is an odd thing to claim, as your reporter can access the expensive databases at his wonderful local library for nothing, even when he's sitting 5,500 miles away.

A future where publishers throw everything they have online for free is then described, although the question of why these professional researchers should throw away their livelihoods away in such a fashion isn't explored. But let's not allow facts to spoil this titanic struggle for the future of learning.

"It's a war between the Old World of the past and the New World and those who 'get it' know whats happening on all fronts," writes Stephen.

Quite so.

We'll be asking the Chancellors of Oxford and Cambridge why they don't "Get It!" and exactly when they plan to close down their institutions very shortly, we promise. With such a mortal challenge to their legitimacy, they must be planning for that day already.

Meanwhile the excitable young Wiki-fiddlers, understandably, rather like the idea that they're writing the reference books of tomorrow, and so fill it with their favorite subjects, like minor Star Trek characters, Ayn Rand and junk science. (The entry on "memes" is almost as long as the entry for Immanuel Kant).

"It's the Khmer Rouge in diapers," observes one regular Register reader, which seems as good a description as any to us.

All of this obscures the potential of the Wiki as a mechanism for community groups and public organizations to publish information they already want you to have, a theme which we'll be exploring further this week. Alas, that's not very sexy, certainly isn't Emergent[*] and doesn't usher in a New World Order; it's just something that could prove to be a humble and possibly very useful bit of middleware. But that's if they can ever get round to agreeing on a mobile API. ®

[*] [adj] A word favored by computer nerds; mandatory for DARPA research applications; on recent evidence, a synonym for 'doomed'.

Related story

Wiki-fiddlers defend Clever Big Book


Other stories you might like

  • NASA delays SLS rollback due to concerns over rocky path to launchpad
    The road to the Moon is paved with... river rock?

    NASA's Moon rocket is to trundle back into its shed today after a delay caused by concerns over the crawlerway.

    The massive transporter used to move the Space Launch System between Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and launchpad requires a level pathway and teams have been working on the inclined pathway leading to the launchpad where the rocket currently resides to ensure there is an even distribution of rocks to support the mobile launcher and rocket.

    The latest wet dress rehearsal was completed on June 20 after engineers "masked" data from sensors that would have called a halt to proceedings. Once back in the VAB, engineers plan to replace a seal on the quick disconnect of the tail service mast umbilical. The stack will then roll back to the launchpad for what NASA fervently hopes is the last time before a long hoped-for launch in late August.

    Continue reading
  • Datacenter operator Switch hit with claims it misled investors over $11b buyout
    Complainants say financial projections were not disclosed, rendering SEC filing false and misleading

    Datacenter operator Switch Inc is being sued by investors over claims that it did not disclose key financial details when pursuing an $11 billion deal with DigitalBridge Group and IFM Investors that will see the company taken into private ownership if it goes ahead.

    Two separate cases have been filed this week by shareholders Marc Waterman and Denise Redfield in the Federal Court in New York. The filings contain very similar claims that a proxy statement filed by Switch with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in regard to the proposed deal omitted material information regarding Switch's financial projections.

    Both Redfield and Waterman have asked the Federal Court to put the deal on hold, or to undo it in the event that Switch manages in the meantime to close the transaction, and to order Switch to issue a new proxy statement that sets out all the relevant material information.

    Continue reading
  • Google to pay $90m to settle lawsuit over anti-competitive behavior on the Play Store
    US developers that qualify could receive more than $200,000

    Google is to pay $90 million to settle a class-action lawsuit with US developers over alleged anti-competitive behavior regarding the Google Play Store.

    Eligible for a share in the $90 million fund are US developers who earned two million dollars or less in annual revenue through Google Play between 2016 and 2021. "A vast majority of US developers who earned revenue through Google Play will be eligible to receive money from this fund," said Google.

    Law firm Hagens Berman announced the settlement this morning, having been one of the first to file a class case. The legal firm was one of four that secured a $100 million settlement from Apple in 2021 for US iOS developers.

    Continue reading
  • Devops tool Jenkins now requires Java 11: This might sting a bit
    Final shift set for version 2.357 of developer automation platform

    It has taken a while, but the Jenkins project confirmed this week that Java 11 will be required from this week's Jenkins 2.357 and for the upcoming September LTS release.

    Jenkins, originally authored by Kohsuke Kawaguchi, recently passed its 10th anniversary. Originally known as Hudson, before the Oracle / Sun deal resulted in a fork, the platform is a veteran of the continuous integration and continuous delivery world. It is also written in Java.

    It's going to be a bit of a wrench. Java 11 itself was released in 2018 as a long-term support version, and the Jenkins LTS core has been Java 11-capable for a while now. The June LTS also supports Java 17 (the latest LTS of Java SE.)

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022