Wikipedia is, by far, one of the greatest innovations of our age. It does for the information available on the internet what Boyle’s innovation did for the scientific method (he got a group of reliable witness to attest to the “fact” of the vacuum created within his laboratory – the facts were now represented by the people, taking people out of science, effectively). What i love about Wikipedia is the list of sources and further readings at the bottom of any good page – SO much more effective than a google search.
Now, i realize the problem with Wikipedia being used as an authority for those of us unable to discern the grains from amongst the chaff, but, frankly, it’s not like Britannica or the OED are the be all and end all of their respective types of reference works either.
So, what have i been doing lately? Writing the entry in Wikipedia on my FAVOURITE work in the entire world (LOL), Boccaccio’s De casibus virorum illustrium. It is taking me a long time to write out all the lives included, translate them into English and then find the appropriate wikipedia page to link to. It is nice to play with the text. I’ve never had access to a complete edition before and now i have to take the time to figure out which figures are included, how they are, and why they’re important. It’s procrastinating – but to an end.
Of course, reading all these other wiki pages has inspired me to edit other errors, add references that should be there and correct errors i encounter (like the erroneous claims that Boccaccio’s On Famous Women has 106 (it’s 104) tales and is the first example of a collection of women’s biographies in Western Literature (it is the first SURVIVING example – we know of others that were written but destroyed or lost).