Note to readers

This is a blog that I'm required to keep that's full of unedited, near stream-of-consciousness reactions to similarly required and related readings in a graduate course in N.C. State University's Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media program. The way these posts are written help me interrogate and understand what's going on in our readings. I'm identifying what's troublesome so that I can give it more thought, but the posts aren't written in a style that's productive for audiences outside of our class to read. That's by design. I start with contestation, then spend heavens only knows how long researching, recutting, and reevaluating so that I can try and see what potentially productive readings I can extract from these source for use in my own work's contributions back to the field. Comments encouraged, but please, you'll likely need a thick skin if your work is quoted here.

Friday, September 12, 2008


From our talks about collective intelligence, I thought it might be interesting to point out that Wikipedia doesn't allow for anything "original"; it must all be documented. Note the sentence I highlight, below, as well.

From here:
Wikipedia does not publish original research or original thought. This includes unpublished facts, arguments, speculation, and ideas; and any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position. This means that Wikipedia is not the place to publish your own opinions, experiences, or arguments. Citing sources and avoiding original research are inextricably linked: to demonstrate that you are not presenting original research, you must cite reliable sources that provide information directly related to the topic of the article, and that directly support the information as it is presented.

No original research is one of three core content policies. The others are neutral point of view and verifiability. Jointly, these policies determine the type and quality of material that is acceptable in articles. Because they complement each other, they should not be interpreted in isolation from one another, and editors should familiarize themselves with all three.

It's possible to moderate Wikipedia because Wikipedia forces its authors to write like machines. We can thank the assembly line for this shift, and this Borg-like form of collective intelligence is just following suit. This machine-like action is why Big Macs can taste the same across continents, and why Joel Spolsky says this about Starbucks:

All of this fancy optimization stuff is called operations research. It's what Michael Gerber talks about in his best-selling book The E-Myth Revisited. If you're planning to expand your business to a certain scale, you must first establish procedures and build systems to get predictable outcomes so that your employees can produce decent results even when they're not having a great day. It's a real academic field of study, and it's really hard and really important. You need to hire pretty smart people to do studies and experiments and collect the statistics and then figure out what it all means.

Starbucks is great at operations research. It wouldn't have become the company it is today if it hadn't created detailed manuals telling people how best to assemble the various chemicals that make up a modern adult milk shake. All of those independent coffee shops that have a nostalgic fixation on grinding the coffee beans right before using them, claiming this 'tastes better' -- these poor shops go out of business left and right, because they don't have the right system. They make only a handful of drinks in the time it takes Starbucks to serve a hundred."

Wikipedia has convinced the world to work at McDon... wait, Starbucks. Yeah, that sounds better. He's a lively chief mate, that; good man, and a pious; but all alive now, I must turn to.

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