Probably the funniest thing I’ve read in the last 15 minutes is this piece by Andrew Orlowski attacking Wikipedia. Wikipedia is certainly right there at the bottom of trustworthy sites, but one of the few things I’d trust less than a Wikipedia article is anything written by Orlowski.
Between them, Orlowski and Wikipedia demonstrate that idiocy is just as well at home in large groups as it is in lone crusaders.
On the Wikipedia side, the case of John Seigenthaler has brought Wikipedia’s inherent problems to the forefront. Seigenthaler was the assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy. As a joke (which pretty much sums up Wikipedia right there), someone edited the Wikipedia entry on Seigenthaler to accuse him of having a suspected role in the Kennedy assassinations. Contrary to Wikipedia defenders who claim the sites public editing process means errors get corrected quickly, this libelous claim was allowed to stay on the site for months before someone alerted Seigenthaler to it. The person who posted the bogus article has since come forth and
been fired resigned as a result (he apparently edited the entry at work to make a point to a co-worker).
So Wikipedia is largely untrustworthy garbage — that was apparent long before the recent controversy. But most traditional media and online media outlets that allegedly have editors are no better, and nothing illustrates that point better than The Register’s Andrew Orlowski who has repeated published some of the most inane, inaccurate and downright bizarre pieces to grace a semi-legitimate online publication.
Just how bad is Orlowski’s “journalism”? Consider a November 2004 article in which Orlowski treated readers to the fact that Google returned garbage results for searches even on famous historical events such as the Battle at Guadalcanal. The only problem was that Orlowski and his source, Scott Middleton, apparently thought that Guadalcanal referred to a battle at a canal, and so were searching Google for “Guadal Canal” (Guadalcanal is, in fact, named after a Spanish village, which in turn takes its name from an Arabic word).
Not searching on the correct term, they ran into pages set up by other people who had a similar problem in correctly identifying the name of the battle.
Orlowski is the epitome of the sort of lousy tech writers whose only skill is jumping from one bandwagon to the next. For example, on June 4, 2004, he hyped an Apple software saying,” Apple today cemented its position as the smartphone’s best friend.” Less than 24 hours later, however, Orlowski bemoaned that “Apple’s iSync software needs a health warning: use at your peril” and complains the software suffers from errors that should have been caught in Beta testing — this from someone who, himself, couldn’t be bothered to give the software a legitimate evaluation before hyping it in The Register.
Frankly, everytime I run across a completely inaccurate Wikipedia entry, part of me wonders, “Did Orlowski write this?” Certainly the bulk of what’s in Wikipedia is no better or worse than what appears on a daily basis in The Register.