Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Universal

Up until a few months ago, the place where I started and stopped for information about movies and TV shows was the Internet Movie Database. Now, I go there less and less because Wikipedia has so much more. So I wonder, what happened to the IMDB? It used to be so packed with information but it seems so on the cusp compared to what Wikipedia has.

Case in point: I watched Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills and three episodes of Police Squad! last night. Curious about details about both features, I hit up the IMDB first. The page devoted to Paradise Lost is scant with information beyond some reviews and some trivia. The page devoted to Police Squad! has some nice tidbits, but feels a little lacking. Hitting up Wikipedia, I found a ton of information, especially in the case of Paradise Lost. Not only is there a page devoted to the documentary itself, but an incredibly thorough page devoted to the West Memphis 3. Police Squad!'s page is also thorough and pretty easy to read. So, what happened?

There was a time when Wikipedia was scant with information and filled with factual errors. I figure more people have become attracted to what the site offers, so more information has come to light. Even the most smallest matters in the pantheon of well-known everyday life is covered. For example, Bob Nanna's page is surprisingly accurate despite the misspelling of Pete Havranek's name as Pete Haverick and the fact that Havranek and Roy Ewing started the band before Nanna joined. Small details, but not as mangled as I've seen it elsewhere.

For my book research, the site has been incredibly helpful. Whether it's about Dave Grohl's Pocketwatch cassette or the 9/11 attacks, there's plenty of accurate information to go through. So now I wonder, is Wikipedia just blowing everything else away with information? How has this place become the place to find information on anything, from teeth to Frank Miller and the meaning of abandonment?


Trickles of Reason said...

Well there has been some serious concern about the validity of information on wikipedia. Being that anyone can add to the page, people are able to post whatever they want, regardless of truth. Steven Colbert called this "wikiality". Colbert then posted a fake post about how there is a resurgance of Elephants in Africa. It is referenced in this clip:

Mr Atrocity said...

But because of the magic of wiki, if you spot an error, like the name of Mr Havranek, you can fix it.

As has been pointed out by trickles of reason, if you are a vandal you can damage a page on wikipedia very easily, but similarly you can fix errors just as fast. Mistakes in paper encyclopaediae last for years. It's six of one and half a dozen of the other as I see it.

Whilst Colbert is right about many things, notably his concept of "Truthiness" his remarks about wikipedia are less cuttingly cogent because firstly, it is very obvious and secondly, I fail to see how it helps. One could say it would be very easy to go into a gallery and change the information panels next to exhibits. It's true but not particularly profound. All it means is people should treat anything they read with due caution, which to be honest, is what they should have doing with printed or broadcast media anyway.