The edges of knowledge: Wikipedia tailings and dross

One of the nice things about Wikipedia is the fact that you can go to it for information about new cultural trends. Want to know what a flash mob is? How about Leetspeak… what’s that? Wikipedia can tell you, with reasonable accuracy and long before more sober references chime in. Still, even Wikipedia has its limits. As you approach the cultural hinterland where barbarians be, the Wikipedian frontier guards regularly eject submitted material.

For example, the other day I noticed that was breathlessly promoting an interview with Vanna Bonta in which she talks about the “emerging genre of Quantum Fiction, exemplified by her controversial book Flight: A Quantum Fiction Novel.” Vanna Bonta? Quantum fiction? It all sounded pretty bogus to me. Fortunately I knew where to turn for the latest word on hot young memes: Wikipedia. Alas, quantum fiction missed the cut, being too wacky by half. But not for lack of trying. Another search revealed a Wikipedia quantum fiction article appearing in… the Wikipedia Knowledge Dump (a.k.a.

WikiDumper isn’t proud. It lives off the picked over remains of Wikipedia fare. The editor is the thoroughly eccentric writer and fractal artist Cliff Pickover. He subtitles WikiDumper as “The Official Appreciation Page for the Best of the Wikipedia Rejects.” To which he adds: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

So now you know where to learn about Quantum Fiction. And Fractomancy, a fractal-based form of divination that was invented by, ahem, Cliff Pickover. And… there’s really no other way to say this… human cheese.

7 thoughts on “The edges of knowledge: Wikipedia tailings and dross”

  1. A better way to learn about Quantum Fiction might be to read academic theses, essays and author interviews. Those sources sure beat the volunteer vested interests that plague Wikipedia. I checked this out and they even blocked the blood-bath citing “libel” against Vanna Bonta. So some people had it in for her.

    Unfortunately vandals, hackers, and competitors affect the ebb and flow of reliable information on Wikipedia.

    Vanna Bonta actually exists and there’s a lot more reliable info about her than the ired party lines of self-appointed science fiction pundits beating their pundits because of bruised egos. Yep — everybody knows the Bonta -Bashers bible and the group that wrote it. Anyone interested in substantive information about quantum fiction, I recommend Guayanese novelist Wilson Harris, who in 2002 said he realized he had been writing “quantum fiction.”

    1. ^ Theatre of the Arts: Wilson Harris and the Caribbean, by Hena Maes-Jelinek (2002)
    2. ^ A Life in writing, by Maya Jaggi; The Guardian Dec. 16, 2006
    3. ^ Fiction in the Quantum Universe, by Susan Strehle (Scholarly Book Services, June, 27, 2002)

  2. By this point, it is common knowledge that the free, open source encyclopedia Wikipedia is a vehicle for intercontinental character assassination. A tool used to vent displeasure with the author of a book or gain upmanship in a flame war.

    While I was at it, I also thought some career slanderers in the alt.usenet.kooks “news group” had discovered and exploited the malfunctioning web site by creating an article defaming a number of individuals they’d been harassing in Usenet.

    … leading one to speculate just how many such canards are circulating in Wikipedia, including any libelous references contained in User Pages and Talk Pages, which are located outside the main articles but which are indexed by the search engines nonetheless. (For details on this rather cunning cyber libel workaround, see my report on User pages).

    And what of the idea that anyone can edit Wikipedia? The only content that has any staying power in Wikipedia is that which is zone defensed by Wiki-gangs. Wiki-gangs are groups of individuals who form — call it what you like — “alliances,” “strategic partnerships,” “cooperative networks” — which allows them to circumvent rules that limit individual users. Many of these gang members did not meet in Wikipedia, but in Usenet, and at some point discovered that Wikipedia could be a key gadget in what they call their bag of “loser attitude readjustment tools” (or “LART” for short).
    The Usenet kooks and defamatation league are behind the article deletions and libel and meanwhile write their own article entries in Wikipedia hoping some fanwill love them as much as readers love writers like Vanna Bonta. She is anything but bogus. Vanna Bonta is, like her work or not, the real deal.

  3. When I read comments like the above, I can’t help but vaguely remember a quote – I don’t think it was Goethe, I think it was Nietzsche maybe? about looking into the abyss and the abyss looking into you. But maybe neither of them ever said that (see Ned’s later post).

  4. This whole interchange reminds me how there’s really no such thing as a small conversation on the web. If you happen to grab hold of a lightning rod, it’s amazing what can happen.

  5. It was Friedrich Nietzsche. “When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.”

    Yeah no small conversations vast small minds.

    If you happen to grab hold of a lightning rod, you aren’t thinking for yourself…for long. Haha.

    If you happen to grab hold of a snake it better hope it isn’t poisonous.

    Best of all
    “The truth is incontrovertible.
    Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it,
    malice may distort it, but there it is.” Winston Churchill

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