Sunday, July 06, 2008

How Awesome is Wikipedia?


How Awesome is Wikipedia?

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/37

How awesome is Wikipedia?

Very awesome.

I use wikipedia many times every week. Often I use it to resolve debates I'm having with someone. I find myself saying quite often "Wikipedia will know the answer."

Not only does it know the right answer, but sometimes it tells me why certain people think certain things, in terms of their backgrounds. I have two examples of this.

1) One of my pet peeves about non-Americans is that they refer to America as "The States." If you want to know why, you'll have to read the entry in my Rants Blog. Anyway, my friend and partner in science Leo was saying that calling it America was irritating because everyone in North and South America was "American." I argued back, no, it's understood that "American" refers to things from the United States. This led to a debate about how many continents there were. He thought America was one continent. We decided to let Wikipedia be the arbiter. Not only did it confirm that I was correct, and that North and South America are two separate continents, but it said "North and South America are viewed as a single continent, one of six in total, in the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Israel, some other parts of Europe, and much of Latin America." Leo is from Argentina! Awesome.

2) Another one of my more minor pet peeves is how Canadians always call parentheses "brackets." I decided to look on Wikipedia to see if they were wrong. Turns out no, they are actually right, in that parentheses are a particular kind of bracket. They're being less specific than they could be, but they're not being wrong. Anyway, it says in its entry for brackets "With respect to computer science, the term is sometimes said to only strictly apply to the square or box type." Well what do you know, yours truly has a Ph.D. in computer science.

1 comment:

Rick said...

Maybe more Argentineans need to read Wikipedia. On my last trip to Buenos Aires, the locals consider themselves Americans while my New York heritage branded me a 'Norte Americano'. I AM AMERICAN JUST LIKE THEM. Apparently.