Tuesday, March 06, 2007


So much of the online world is based on trust. I trust that you're not going to read this and steal my words (not that I've written words good for stealing here yet). You trust that I am who I say I am and that that picture over there really is me.

I trust that when I participate in online swaps, my swap partner is going to come through and send me my part (and so far they always have).

I trust that wikipedia's information is as accurate as those writing it can assure. I trust that the people behind wikipedia are honest. This, apparently, is not always the case. Via the BBCnews:

Internet site Wikipedia has been hit by controversy after the disclosure that a prominent editor had assumed a false identity complete with fake PhD.

The editor, known as Essjay, had described himself as a professor of religion at a private university.

But he was in fact Ryan Jordan, 24, a college student from Kentucky who used texts such as Catholicism for Dummies to help him work.

He has retired from the site and his authority to edit has been cancelled.

It sounds as if Mr. Jordan was truly invested in making Wikipedia a good site, but he took on false credentials to make himself seem more, well, credible. But he betrayed the public trust.

Museums, too, hold the public trust. When we blog, we can not be false (unless we're purposely creating a new reality.

While I'm sorry that Mr. Jordan is not who he said he is, I still trust in wikipedia. My trust in people's representations is shaken slightly. I believe, as I think many believe, that most people are basically good and basically honest. Naive? Maybe. Maybe not.

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