Posts Tagged ‘wikipedia’

Can You Guess What It Is?

March 7, 2009

So what is this MP talking about?:

“I think it would be in (it’s) own interest to maintain its impartiality … It is a fantastic and impartial source, that is its great value, so it would be a shame if it allowed its pages to become ‘point of view’ pages.”

a) BBC News online?

b) Wikipedia?

Source; BBC News

“Tories Admit to Wiki Alteration”

February 15, 2009

Every so often you get a story like this one.

And people say “this proves that Wikipedia is unreliable”.

It actually proves that if you try and put a disputed or contentious edit in Wikipedia you always get found out.

So it actually proves how reliable Wikipedia is.

What it also proves is that sometimes facts are disputed.

It seems that there are various different possibilities for Titian’s birth date. So it’s probably not a good idea to use Titian’s birthday as a way of scoring a political point…

Every time there is one of these incidents Wikipedia just gets stronger and stronger.

Small Crowd Search Trust Social Media Flirt

September 11, 2008

A small pile of good links:

Steve Rubell thinks search will revolutionize social media. He also think news aggregators should “come clean“.

Robin Hamman on how PR people should deal with social networks.

Tom Scott on how it’s unnecessary to build trust into networks as the human brain will assess that better anyway if you give it the right tools and data.

Very interesting article from Slate on the limits of Wikipedia (I spotted this through starrjulie on twitter.)

“Music beta is a brilliant breakthrough for the BBC”

August 12, 2008

Today the BBC staff newspaper Ariel published a column by me about the BBC music beta. Here it is:

A few years ago I spent possibly the happiest nine months of my BBC working life on attachment at BBC Music Online.

I was most proud of my Frank Sinatra profile. A nice picture of Frank on a web page with some killer facts and recommended albums and books.

That profile disappeared a long time ago. The relaunched music beta site contains no handcrafted web pages written by a BBC person about their favourite act. You might think I’d be sad. In fact I think that the music beta is a breakthrough for the BBC.

There’s loads of stuff about Frank Sinatra on the Internet. The Wikipedia entry on Frank is far more comprehensive, authoritative and just better than anything I could ever write.

So instead of continuing to make BBC content on subjects that are well covered elsewhere, why not use other people’s content as a way of powering your own stuff?

This is the approach being taken by the Music team in their new beta, pulling in entries from Wikipedia and data from music community MusicBrainz and linking it up with the BBC’s rich music offer on radio and television. As an idea it is simple and brilliant, and it also runs completely counter to the BBC’s traditional way of doing things.

We think the answer to any problem is to make more stuff. This works on radio on TV because they are time bound. Once you’ve filled up 24 hours with a day’s worth of programmes it’s pointless to produce any more. But the internet is not time bound – it’s potentially infinite. You can pump more and more stuff into the ether forever. But if it’s not linked to anything else and impossible to find you’re just clogging up the system. The solution on the internet is to do less, make it work harder and ensure that everyone, everywhere can find it, share it and use the data.

It’s an approach that could work elsewhere. One of the most testing problems in UK media is public service local media. ITV wants to reduce further its regional news commitments, while local newspapers are lobbying hard against the BBC’s proposals to add video to BBC local websites. But rather than competing to make more (or indeed less) stuff wouldn’t a collaborative approach work better? Is there a common set of local community data which the BBC, local newspapers and ITV could build editorial ideas on?

From now on if I want to indulge my love of Frank Sinatra, I’ll just edit the Wikipedia page, knowing it will turn up on the BBC. Collaboration is the future, and not just in music.

Wikipedia’s Values Are The BBC’s Values

June 5, 2008

Over the past few days I’ve read both the BBC Trust’s Service Licence Review of bbc.co.uk and the BBC’s management’s submission.

It feels like the BBC is hovering on the edge of a conceptual leap forwards, scared about making the leap.

I quote (management submission p.98):

The BBC grew up in and often shaped the age of broadcasting. Over the last 10 years, it has been thrust into the age of computers where it has made important but fewer defining contributions. It has been a rapidly-evolving age, in which many of the truths of the broadcasting age have been contested. These are the truths on which the BBC has built its global stature – that professionals know best, that control is the way to ensure quality, that audience contributions are valuable but must be crafted or editorialised to release that value, that the audience must only be given the finished product, that professionals will create more content than the audience.

To fit itself for the future, the BBC must demonstrate a willingness and an ability to engage in the discussion about the new world. The internet will help it to do so by enabling a direct dialogue by which it can be held to account and develop greater responsiveness.

The BBc has to do a lot more than just “enter a dialogue”.

From the BBC Trust’s review (p. 31):

“The encouragement of user participation by means of user-generated content (UGC) will need to be managed carefully so that BBC news’ brand values of impartiality, accuracy and independence (which we have found to be particularly strong online) are not challenged.”

There’s an underlying anxiety that if we collaberate with licence fee payers in places not controlled by the BBC, or allow them to help make or influence BBC content it will somehow damage BBC values and traditional strengths.

It may be true that there are some places which the BBC should not go.

But to choose an example Wikipedia is not one of them.

Wikipedia’s values are almost exactly the same as the BBC’s.

What’s the difference between Wikipedia’s value of neutrality:

“Neutral point of view is a fundamental Wikimedia principle and a cornerstone of Wikipedia. All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), representing fairly, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources.”

and the BBC’s value of impartiality including this:

  • we strive to reflect a wide range of opinion and explore a range and conflict of views so that no significant strand of thought is knowingly unreflected or under represented. “
  • The difference is not in values or principles but in how you do it.

    Wikipedia says “we want to search for the truth. And we want everyone to help us find it”

    The BBC says “we want to search for the truth. But ONLY professional BBC people are allowed to do it.”

    We’re wrong.

    In practice there is at least one recent example of where the BBC used the wisdom of the crowd to change and improve its journalism. Last year the Newsround webpages about 9/11 were changed after some concerted lobbying from various bloggers. Here’s what Sinead Rocks said on the Editors blog. Here’s what I said at the time on my internal BBC blog. You won’t be able to see my blog outside the firewall so here’s a quote:

    “Is (this) an organised lobby of people with an axe to grind about the BBC’s output? Is it a example of “networked journalism”? Or perhaps both? …

    Has the conversation made what’s on Newsround’s website better? On balance I think yes, although I would be interested to know what others think.”

    This was an uncomfortable experience for the BBC. But how practically was it any different from the kind of often fractious debates and editing that go on in Wikipedia?

    We have to come down off our pedestals and realise that some licence fee payers are cleverer than we are. Anyone who shares the BBC values should be welcome to make or help make BBC content whether they are professional and paid by us or whether they are not.

    Doing this does not undermine BBC values. It strengthens them.

    What would it be like if licence fee payers not only understood and believed in impartiality (which they do), but also actively helped make the BBC’s content more impartial?

    Isn’t that an exciting prospect? Let’s jump!