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).