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Facts are Not Like Water, Either: Encyclopedia Britannica Online Launches

March 19, 2012

The authoritative Encyclopedia Britannica launched a new online site at www.britannica.com.  The “facts are like water” crowd will no doubt prefer the work product of the wisdom of mobs, but I personally tend to agree with Britannica’s slogan:  Facts matter.

I will also be interested in comparing entries in Britannica to entries in the Encyclopedia of the Mob.  Very interested.  As this can now be accomplished with greater ease and because the EOTM keeps such good records of who did what when, I invite MTP readers to do a little comparing from time to time and if you find any striking similarities, drop us a line here at old MTP, we know what to do with that kind of information.  Let the wild waleing start.  A little free advice to EOTM “editors”?   Don’t walk near any buses with Jimbo.

And if you doubt the difference between the two, that’s fine, there’s lots of people who enjoy the process of creating crowd-sourced scrapbooks, too.  But why don’t you find evidence of the instances where the editorial process at Britannica produced the kind of bizarre sniping that you hear about breaking out amongst the volunteer crew below decks at the Encyclopedia of the Mob.  Not to mention how Wikipedia seems to be a honeypot for opposition research hounds for political candidates planting “information” in opposing candidate bios, for example.  Gives “peer review” a whole new meaning–which is the point.  Which is more reliable or more likely to produce reliable results?  Ask a few high school teachers about plagiarism and you’ll get the idea.

Do you think that you will find this story in Wikipedia?  I would hope so:  Human Rights Groups Call on Google to Stop Profiting from Human Trafficking Advertisting, but I think not.

Neither will you see “google nonprosecution agreement” and the Wikipedia entry for Google, Inc. lacks certain information, such as a “Criminal Prosecutions and Convictions” section and has one–one–mention of the word “antitrust”.  Compare to the entry for Halliburton or even the “criticism” section in the Microsoft entry.  You also won’t see any criticism of Google like the article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Berkeley Professor Geoffrey Nunberg, “Google Book Search: A Disaster for Scholars” or a discussion of Google’s problems with its “new” privacy policy like Gizmodo’s The Case Against Google.  Neither will you see any coverage of the secret digitizing workers exposed by Andrew Norman Wilson. This is the kind of thing you find in a neutral encyclopedia like Britannica, however.  These are facts and they are nothing like water.

However, we are told that “Google is taking steps to ensure that its operations are environmentally sound.”

Sweet!  Facts are like water!

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