Thursday, April 22, 2010

Maybe a Blockhead, Maybe Not

No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.

Samuel Johnson, April 5, 1776,
Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)

Perhaps I'm wising up, because I've been engaging in remunerative writing of late—outside this blog of course—in addition to my real job.

But perhaps I'm as much of a blockhead as ever, because I've also been doing some additional writing for Wikipedia. My basic motivation is that Wikipedia is the first place schoolkids turn for information. You yourself have probably noticed that when you look something up on Google, a Wikipedia article on the subject often tops the search results.

Most of the people who write for Wikipedia (I'm thinking of the science-related articles) are pretty ignorant of philosophy and most of these are positivists of some degree or other (seems to be the default for people who learn only "science"—the web is rife with them), who depend on an "authority" with a scientistic agenda, like Bertrand Russell or Carl Sagan, for their history of science and philosophy. The saving grace is that most of the people in charge, whether ignorant or not, want it to be a respectable encyclopedia, which means they would like real research of original sources and probably some sort of historical review section.

On popular misconception about Wikipedia is that, since anyone can edit the articles, anything you contribute will be quickly effaced. To the contrary, I've found that there is a lot of stability to worthy, well-documented contributions. Vandalism, meanwhile, is quickly extirpated.

So I encourage you, if you know anything, to be a blockhead like me and contribute to Wikipedia. You won't get paid, but on the other hand, you get a free platform to help others draw closer to the truth. You'll also be contributing to the body of freely available knowledge and making your mark on history.

If you want to contribute to a particular article, a good place to start is the discussion tab at the top of any given article page.

Anyway, I'll have more free time this summer. Whether I spend it blogging or Wikipedia, or trying to earn a living is another question.


TheOFloinn said...

You might blog a bit more often than of late.

The 27th Comrade said...

Maybe you can point out the name of your book, so I can see your real name on it and stop calling you either of MetaJester and Lorentz Gauge. :o)