I’ve known for a long time – in fact ever since my Librarian colleagues brought it to my attention and advised me to use it with great care – that Wikipedia was, and is, not a reliable source for information. Along with the myth of “just google it” to get information on almost anything … and then not subsequently and consciously make a decision on whether the search results returned were reliable, or even the best, the other myth has been “just look it up on wikipedia”.
I’ve subscribed to this myth – quite literally – donating regularly when asked, thinking that a collective is, and was, a good way to collect and curate information – harnessing the power, enthusiasm and knowledge of the crowd to plant, weed and publish articles. Whilst I realised that it could NEVER be an authoritative reference source, I accepted it as a good, quick and easy way of looking things up. My online dictionary/encyclopedia. Not any more.
I’ve written about why this came to my attention on my other blog – “Just thoughts …” in this article – “Well this is fascinating, and very disturbing …” but I thought it important to bring it to your attention on this blog as well. The issue is that reputable professionals are being targeted by anonymous “editors” on Wikipedia and having entries about them taken down.
As I understand it – and please add to my knowledge if incomplete or incorrect – the way Wikipedia works is that once you’ve established the right to create an entry – a page – that article can be modified through voting up or down proposed changes. Beyond that however it would appear that if you have a privileged position – obtained it would seem solely by virtue of the amount of your activity – you can propose deletion of any other entry, and then it’s up to others to vote to keep an article, or indeed support the deletion. It is therefore very easy to co-ordinate an attack on a Wikipedia page to have it removed. In the case of an individual, if they didn’t create the page for themselves, no reference will be made to the person targeted, they do not have any rights to object, they may not even know the page written about them is under discussion for deletion. They can cease to exist on Wikipedia!!!
So we have an extension to our world of fake news; that is the deletion of truth. What is the world coming to!
I have to admit, the events of the past few weeks have made me look much more seriously at paying more for the IT services that I’ve taken for free up until now. Of course they’ve never been free, I’ve had to put up with the adverts and the email messages I don’t really want – alerting me to this deal, or that deal, and I’ve willingly put up with that as a price worth paying for the service I’ve been receiving. But two events have changed my mind, and moreover I feel the IT world is actually changing slowly as a consequence of the mistakes (to be exceptionally generous) of Facebook and Google; and the decision of Apple to switch more attention to Services, targeting this as their main income stream for the future, and not relying on Hardware alone.
So what were the earth-shaking events in the Harrison-IT-world? Well the first was Google’s announcement that having hidden the news of a potential security weakness in an API, for several months (presumably to secure their stock-market price at the time Facebook was struggling, and presumably also after ensuring that the potential breach was secured) they used this as an excuse to kill-off (sorry “sunset”) Google+ next August. Now this service was not the success Google hoped it to be, and most definitely has not generated the revenue they hoped it might, but for me, my family and for many communities (particularly of photographers – because of the close linkage to Google Photos) – it was a hugely valuable tool. Now, we have to look for another social media platform. It could be Google Photos – Google may have plans to “enhance” it to take on features from Google+, or it could be another platform, but it’s just a pain in the neck having to move off something we’re used to! Google have real history with “sunsetting” tools that people get used to using [Thanks to @MrSimonWood for this link.]
The second was Flickr’s announcement that they were going to limit their Free account to 1000 images – excluding those that were licensed under Creative Commons, which a lot of mine are. They are encouraging users to take out a Pro subscription to remove restrictions and allow more and larger images to be uploaded. This didn’t meet with the same “horror” feeling. I immediately felt that this was a decision that would secure the future long-term of the service under the new owners – SmugMug. [A feeling that I didn’t have when 500px made changes to their platform which led me to delete my account.] So I immediately subscribed and took advantage of the first-year discount price (still available for a few more days I believe).
So what am I saying. I’m saying that if there’s a service that I really want, and I really need some feeling that it’s going to be around for a while, I should pay for it. I wasn’t given that option by Google – shame on them; it appears I’ll never be given that opportunity by Facebook. Both of them are essentially marketing and advertising platforms. I don’t see either of them being able to develop a hybrid model as Flickr has been able to do.
This all makes Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography Plan and Microsofts’ Office 365 seem so much more sensible. I’ll continue with the former, but decline the latter as my roots are now firmly planted in the Apple world where I look to see how they will develop their Service offerings in Music, TV, Home and Car fields.