Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Router rout

Thomas Gagnon-van Leeuwen at Macuser would do well to consult a dictionary before making too much fun about the correct and apparently adorable pronunciation of "router" used by Screencast online host Don McAllister.

Even Webster's, the quintessentially American dictionary, makes the distinction between the woodworking tool (rowter) and the computer device (rooter).

At last glance, the editors and compilers of dictionaries, thesauri and encyclopedia seem to value correctness over popularity. Which brings me to the issue of whether Wikipedia is a reliable source of information or not.

The free-for-all contributor model used by Wikipedia is at the heart of a certain lack of objectivity outside of technical articles. I think that Wikipedia can serve as a useful start when doing online research, but does not yet command the reputation for scholarship enjoyed by the more established players in the field.

So it is no surprize that some colleges are banning Wikipedia as a citation source in tests and essays. However I think that this type of action goes beyond just concerns about the quality of information to be found in Wikipedia, but also towards addressing college students using Wikipedia as their only source of information.

The advent of Web 2.0-type social networking has unfortunately encouraged the triumph of a lowest common denominator approach to quality and a spectacular proliferation of group-think. As a result sites like Digg and You Tube are fast losing their appeal as there is so much chaff to thresh through before getting to the wheat.

1 comment:

Simon said...

"surprize" ?

Isn't there a universal law that any post criticizing another's use of language will automatically contain at least one basic error of grammar or spelling? QED ;-)