ThinkingDuck on Information as a Commodity’s Value, Wikipedia, And the Net.

This one is by reader ThinkingDuck.


Purportedly this is the information age and a premier commodity of value is information. However, information is valuable to the extent it is reliable to the user. That is, the information you are acting on should be true; then again we also realize that hierarchies often use ‘disinformation’ to gain advantage by having others act on unreliable information.

Information is reliable if it is exact, timely, and complete. Incomplete or partial information is one regular means of misleading others. Anonymity is a cloak used to shield actors who are purposely spreading misinformation, fear reprisal, or otherwise lack the courage to stand by what they say. The source of information is valuable information in itself in evaluating the value of the information being released. Knowing who leaked a classified government report tells us the probable motive in leaking information. If I spread adverse information about you to please your ex, because I am entangled with them, it is important to know it is me doing it.

Another form of disinformation is to indicate that the information is more reliable than it merits. Scientific and other professional journals or other information exchanges test and promote accuracy by allowing peer review and critique.
Recently Wikipedia (yeah, I use it sometimes) has come under growing critique including a Larry Sanger, the cofounder, who is now launching a competing project to avoid the flaws inherent to the Wikipedia format. now launching

Wikipedia claims to be “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit”. However, ‘encyclopedia’ signifies “a collection (usually a book) of information about things humans know”. Wikipedia’s editorial and verification process are at best dubious in that it its editorial staff consists of, well anyone who it pleases the Wikipedia gang to be an ‘editor’. They are then deemed capable of making editorial and policy decisions. Examples include here and here

This is generally anyone who is sufficiently with the gang to stay in step and think similarly. When someone does not, they are severely attacked as censors, whiners, or other anti-intellectual slights campaign waged on Wikipedia and the net in general.

This is because unfortunately some of the editors and contributors are less than bright and belong in a ‘Bill and Ted’s excellent Adventure’ genera movie, not an encyclopedia. (Consider this for example.) Basically Wikipedia lacks adult supervision. (More here.)

Problems include false biographical information such as Sinbad’s false death, or more egregiously the slander against “John Seigenthaler, a 78-year old former assistant to Robert Kennedy who published an article in USA Today last week describing how his Wikipedia page had been vandalized and the edits gone unnoticed for several months. The changes suggested he had been “suspected” in the assassinations of both RF and JF Kennedy, and also falsely stated that he had lived in the USSR for 13 years. ‘We live in a universe of new media with phenomenal opportunities for worldwide communications and research, but populated by volunteer vandals with poison-pen intellects,’ Seigenthaler” Other examples include these and two.

I strongly believe in freedom of speech and support the net as a ‘market place of ideas’; however, I also uphold a private individuals right to privacy, and perhaps to just be left alone. That is a taboo at Wikipedia, where information is the end in itself and not merely a means to greater understanding. But false or incomplete information may be less useful than no information.

Angry Bear is openly a blog where ideas, opinions, and gossip even are properly exchanged about public topics and persons ‘who have thrust themselves in the limelight of public opinion’. It is not a tabloid and I find myself in accord with the site in general, but I do not take everything as established facts.

I hope this quacks you up a little.



One comment by cactus. Its kind of an aside, but with respect to ThinkingDuck’s last paragraph… though I’m just one of the junior bears here at the sufferance of Angry Bear himself, I think I can speak for the highly paid staff here at Angry Bear Humongous Media Enterprises when I say that we encourage people not to take anything on our site as an established fact. We do our best to analyze and report data. And we try to list our sites scrupulously. But even so, we’re human, and we fail. As everyone does sometimes. As Ronald Reagan used to say, trust but verify.