The New Gatekeepers (redux)

The Wikipedia foes are concerned about the upward creep of Wikipedia entries in search engine listings. And while James Robertson is on the right track when he asks What’s the Alternative?, I think he glosses over the evolution of how we archive and access information.

I knew nothing of the Opium Wars as a young boy. Growing up in Colorado, I had an excuse:

The winners write the history books.

Thirty years ago, books were our primary souce of information. It was rare to find a book that contradicted conventional wisdom. And I certainly wasn’t going to read of Boston merchants who made their fortunes selling opium.

Now, we have a different problem. We have a vast number of web pages rather than a limited number of books. And we have search engines as our gatekeepers rather than publishers.

Our new gatekeepers may be no more accurate than the old. But their errors are algorithmic rather than personal. And I’m confident that an algorithmic correction to Wikipedia will be available when necessary.