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CNN Commentary on Wikipedia

Following the recent death of Kenneth Lay and the resulting media coverage, CNN ran a story about the unreliability of Wikipedia. Read all about how the Kenneth Lay entry changed multiple times over the couple hour period following the announcement.

Now, I thought it would be interesting to do a similar side-by-side analysis of the 2004 Encyclopedia Britanica. Here’s the “by the minute” updates to Kenneth Lay’s entry regarding his cause of death on July 5.

  • At 10:06 a.m. it said nothing.
  • At 10:08 a.m. it said nothing.
  • Within the same minute, it said nothing.
  • At 10:09 a.m. it said nothing.
  • Two minutes later, still nothing.
  • At 10:12 a.m. it said nothing.
  • By 10:39 a.m. surprisingly, nothing.
  • By early Wednesday afternoon, a full day earlier, the pages had still not miraculously generated the relevant information.

Which leads me to remark that while Wikipedia may not be the most accurate source of information mere minutes after news breaks, given a few days it’s a heck of a lot more accurate than the encyclopedia book set you have sitting on your shelf or that encyclopedia DVD you bought in 2001 for Windows ME.

Update – 07/09/2006

The Washington Post chips in on this riveting piece of news in an article entitled Death by Wikipedia: The Kenneth Lay Chronicles. Journalism at it’s best folks. My favorite quote, hands down, “That Wikipedia’s greatest strength is its greatest weakness.” Qua?! It got the story right in 24 hours folks… for those wishing an status report, my Encyclopedia Britannica is still silent on the subject.

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  1. Alex Kim
    July 17th, 2006 at 04:07 | #1

    It probably shouldn’t surprise us too much that the mainstream media is continuing its stream of distrust of Wiki-media. Wiki represents a dangerously accessible new level of the Information Cycle. How much longer do you think the mainstream media will be able to define the new media? Or has that time already come and gone?

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