I was just watching the movie Shane. I don’t want to spoil it, in case you are in the small segment of the population who, for some reason, has not seen it (how could you not have seen Shane?!?). I was thinking about the huge, open-ended question that the film leaves us with. I went online to read what people have written about this question. The thing I read at IMDB presented both sides of the argument pretty well, and it also pointed out a bigger point that hadn’t occurred to me.

I started thinking about online stores of information and how they’re maintained …stewarded …edited …vanguarded. I’ve read about Wikipedia a little, how their community works. I’ve read stuff that claims that Wikipedia is more accurate, in a lot of cases, than an actual encyclopedia. I am not ambitious enough to pull together examples arguing one way or the other on this.

I am also a little bit familiar with open-source software. I’ve read the argument that open-source is better, the audit process is better. The audit process for open-source is GLOBAL. It is not a limited audit process conducted within the confines of a single software company. Anyone in the world, who knows enough, and cares enough, can participate in the improvements to an open-source software. And that sounds great.

My question is: Are our apps and information being maintained by the people who care the most? Or by the people who are most qualified?

If I went to Wikipedia and made an edit, a foolish edit, somebody who cared would go and correct it. Even if I made a valid edit – even if I knew more on the subject, and I was ‘right’ – somebody who keeps a more vigilant watch over this material could go in and make it wrong again. Does this process work? Or is it the person with the strongest will, not the person who is right, who ends up being the final word and the law of the land (will to power, might makes right…like what was happening in Shane).


About HappyApathy

It eels what it eels.
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2 Responses to Shane!

  1. 63mago says:

    As I read in an article in Die ZEIT recently there is some rumour behind the scenes of wikipedia. It was written by an historian who edited artciles that were always changed back because someone with authority (forgot the name of these people, their status) did not allow changes.
    Wikipedia did come a long way and it had some success over the last years, notably when there was a kind of conpetition with the Encyclopedia Britannica, and wikipedia did well, had fewer mistakes as the EB – mind you. BUt in the end I’d prefer the EB (or the German equivalent) for proper information, simply because there is a system of reviews – and this filters out such behaviour as mentioned above.
    These encyclopedias want to give information, or even knowledge, and this is always used for some interests. One has to form an independent body of redacteurs who simply do work in the interest of the whole enyclopedia and the integrity of the information, not in it’s use – and hence in one-sided or leaning to one side subjectivism. Knowing totally that objective information, or knowledge, is not reachable for us humans. It is a constant try, since the first words were written down.
    Does this say something about your question about open source software ? As I understand software is there to do something, to manage a given task – and of course there is the theoretically option that someone on this whole planet has the solution for this given problem – and is willing to share this knowledge. But nevertheless one has to earn some cash and bite off something, like a bread or a even steak. And only because I’m able to solve a software-problem I do not get cash, nobody pays me for this, just because I can.
    Solutions are all these models from freeware, via shareware to propriety software, you know these things, the whole licensing-thing etc.
    I want to use free software on my next computer, like pc-bsd as os and then I can find all I need. But using other knowledge-filled databases – f.g. to write an article, an essay, prepare a seminar – is all about quality, what means for me – as an historian and/or European Ethnologist – that these information must be reliable and as objective as possible – think only about an article about WWII or the holocaust or something of this calibre: It is open to abuse, to ideology, to anything that prevents one from finding the own look at things.
    In the end it’s like the Bratwurst, a matter of trust. Sorry for the long bla, I even did not mention Shane – of what I have not the slightest idea, sorry.

  2. HappyApathy says:

    Never seen Shane? Oh my. Yes, it’s the system of review that needs improvement. It would be great if the recognized and true experts in the fields were the ones who could put a stamp on the information, certify it — a consortium, that either certifies information, or certifies the people that certify the data. An example or model that comes to mind is another technology example: The World Wide Web Consortium, “The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community that develops open standards to ensure the long-term growth of the Web.”

    These are the people who make sure the protocols are compliant, or whatever, so that the internet works. They make it so that if I send you an email using my brand of email, you can receive it and open it with your brand of email.

    It seems like the internet could, would and should be the place where it is all about the integrity of the information, not in it’s use. But then again, it also seems like the internet would most definitely be prone to be the opposite of that. The internet is such a monkey mind.

    With the technology example and open source vs proprietary: The thing that concerns a lot of people about operating systems made by evil empires like microsoft is: those systems and applications are doing a lot of stuff that a lot of individuals find invasive. When you have a whole world full of nerds doing technology stuff -only out of their love for technology- any of whom would immediately cry foul if they saw sneaky business like that (I assume). Compare those individuals to the employees getting paychecks who have the company line imposed on them “Design this operating system to continuously hassle everybody until the upgrade to our latest version …and even cause them frights and irritations when they are trying to sort through their truly needed updates. And also: change their preferred browser and serve them a bunch of irritating adds when they do searches…” That kind of stinks. But there the independent nerd is, sitting at home developing this thing because she/he loves developing. They launch their invention on the world and gain much admiration. They become rockstars and then the job offers come. Then they ‘cross over’ to …the dark side, call it. Or the developers or teams of them or companies will go by the model: give the consumer enough of the free stuff so that they fall in love with the technology, and then offer the add-ons for a fee, the deluxe stuff with expanded functionality.

    With events of the magnitude you mentioned, I’m interested in how disconnects between versions of the human story manifest themselves in other countries, out of their history books and all. And I wonder how disconnected I have been by growing up in the U.S. and reading its literature!

    Thanks for the long bla! Now go find a copy of Shane!

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