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Sunday, 3 January 2010

Crazy thinking on Twitter about Wikipedia

I am getting lots of invitations - as no doubt you are - from people to follow them on twitter.

Most twitterings are witterings, but since I hardly ever get invited to anything nowadays (sad little chap) I tend to say yes.

Thus it was that I ended up looking through some figures about Wikipedia's fundraiser, aimed at raising $7.5 million. They were immensely frustrating because figures are meaningless unless you can see the copy they refer to, so I started reading the comments at the bottom.

One read: "Am I the only one, or is there something somewhat gross about engineering messages to extract the greatest possible donations? Maybe this is standard practice in fundraising, maybe it’s the right thing to do ... but something about it doesn’t sit quite right."

The writer was only one of those who said more or less the same thing.

I was immediately reminded of a Catholic doctrine called invincible ignorance, then recalled that ludicrous U.S. party of the 1850's called the Know Nothings, which essentially objected to new immigrants.

What is implicit in the idea of NOT trying to get the most possible funds for a charity? If everyone thought that way charities that have saved millions of lives would all have closed down.

In fact, on the basis that we should never test what works and what doesn't, all human progress, starting with the discovery of fire or how to escape an angry sabre-toothed tiger would never have got started.

All human knowledge derives from finding a better way; and the only means of doing so derives from asking "what if?" - then putting something to the test.

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