Nobody wants to be told that their baby is ugly, especially when it takes a village to raise that child. Xeni reported the cold, hard truth about Wikipedia, and hardcore Wikipedians probably didn’t want to hear none of that. I’d need more fingers and toes to count up how many outrageous errors I’ve found on Wikipedia, but every time I’ve gone to correct them, I’ve been told that the entry has been locked temporarily. Okay, so tell me, who other than me knows more about me? Someone thought I graduated from the University of Iowa, not the University of NORTHERN Iowa – there’s a big difference between the two (ask any Hawkeye or Panther). I’m honored to have earned a place in the wiki to end all wikis, but I wish I could have at least claimed my own name to have full editing rights over it. I know there are countless Chris Pirillos in the world, but that one happens to be me – and it happens to be partially inaccurate. I also take offense to being “terminated” from TechTV – it didn’t quite go down that way, but I don’t expect the greater part of the world to know or understand that. I hate even bringing up TechTV because discussion always devolves into something centered on Morgan Webb’s breasts.
Community is not perfect. Wikipedia is not perfect. The Web is not perfect. People are not perfect. What we enjoy is the power to influence others – what we don’t enjoy is when that power is seen as slightly imperfect. Or, unperfect as the case would be. The blogosphere has a mob mentality, and certain filters (like Memeorandum) only amplify select voices. When one person says something, another person chimes in – and then another person chimes in – and then another person chimes in – and then pretty soon you have a discussion about discussing the discussion. If I came out and “attacked” the service du jour, I’d likely be blackballed and seen as someone who just doesn’t “get it.” No, I just so happen to disagree with a lot of what I see – and I’m not always afraid to write about it. Oh yes, sometimes I *AM* afraid of coming out and stating that the “emperor has no clothes” – only because of that very same mob mentality. If I came out and said your favorite Web service was not as awesome as it portends to be, you’d likely feel it to be akin to a personal attack. Why?
We project ourselves onto the very things we like.
For argument’s sake, let’s say everybody in the world was raving about something called Schlippr. Are they raving about Schlippr because it’s worth raving about, or are they raving about it because everybody else is raving about it – or all the A-list bloggers are raving about it – or that the media is raving about it? And then, should a little boy step out from the crowd and point to the naked Schlippr, what would happen? Would the world turn and listen to dissenting wisdom – or would they attack it outright? Isn’t it easier to chastise a deviant than to listen to his perspective? Think back to your own experiences in grade school. Were you the one who bullied others, or the one who was bullied?
By coming out and disagreeing with popular opinion, you’re always going to be facing a digital lynch mob. Then again, if enough people say “it” and believe in “it” – that very “it” must be true. Right? And anybody who says otherwise is a heretic. Could I correct the errors (as I see them) on Wikipedia? Likely, but then will someone else’s truth supercede those corrections one day? Likely. I’m expecting my graduation certificate on the wall to transmogrify itself any day now. Should enough people believe I graduated from UI instead of UNI, then maybe I really did? If enough people believe that Schlippr is the second coming, then maybe it is? What would Jean Luc Picard say about all this?
“There are four lights!”