Archive for April, 2009
I was thinking of posting this directly to Larry Sanger’s blog on Citizendium.org, but it’s too long, and Dr. Sanger would probably object. Also, it’s a bit personal, and I don’t like to be seen as a grudge-bearer, but sometimes you just have to speak out… So, just to follow up on my post from yesterday, I’d like to ask our highly appreciated and valued readers to indulge me, just this once.
In 2001, I was working for a small Midwestern (USA) IT company, a VAR actually, and one day we were told that the owner was moving to the West Coast and had sold the company to another guy, who we’ll just call “New Owner.” Well, it turned out that New Owner was an Ayn Rand fanatic who would wax ebullient over her “objectivist philosophy” whenever he got the chance, and even kept extra copies of Ayn’s literary masterworks in his desk drawer to hand out to people. (This is how I got my copy of The Fountainhead, which I ultimately threw away after being utterly appalled by the first 80 pages or so). Read the rest of this entry »
The whole debate over whether or not Wikia’s Jimmy Wales should be referred to as the “co-founder” of Wikipedia, along with Dr. Larry Sanger, has always been more than a little amusing. Mr. Wales was the CEO of Bomis, Inc., the pornographic link-farm site/company that employed Sanger to develop an online encyclopedia project from January 2000 to March 2002. As such, Mr. Wales now assumes - perhaps rightly - that he can legally declare anything produced by Sanger during that time to be a “work for hire,” and therefore take sole credit for it. After all, money talks; employees simply get laid off.
Meanwhile, since speaker’s fees evidently make up a large portion of Mr. Wales’ personal income, the reduction in status he could suffer by being commonly referred to as merely the “co-founder” of Wikipedia might make him a less marketable commodity on the lecture circuit. Yikes! Without these fees, Mr. Wales might have to rely on his income as CEO of Wikia, Inc. just to survive - clearly not an attractive prospect, given the nature of Wikia’s business model.
But why all the fuss over one word, “co-founder,” when that word isn’t even accurate in referring to either of these two giants of unpaid-volunteer online content aggregation? Wouldn’t it be better for all concerned to use a term that’s more descriptive of what these two men actually did, like “co-instigator,” “co-conspirator,” or “co-defiler of Western educational traditions”? At least that way, there wouldn’t be all this petty sniping, since presumably there would be less objection to sharing such a title in the first place.
Then again, if people would just use accurate terminology to describe Wikipedia itself (i.e., Multi-User Dungeon, rather than “encyclopedia”), maybe this entire dispute would be unnecessary. Read the rest of this entry »