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This is the archive for May 2005

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Anakin's line "you're with me or you're agaisnt me" has grabbed all the headlines as an obvious slam at Bush. But that's not the line that bothered me.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Some otherwise anonymous commenter named "birdwoman" left a very insightful comment on my article about economics. She said, in effect, that she knew these things before, but had not seen them put into words. This made me, in turn, realize that the purpose I had in mind when writing it was not to teach people something they didn't know, but to "teach" (if that's the right word) something to people that they already did know, but didn't know they knew it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I'm not going to try to figure out all seven here, though I'd enjoy suggestions in the comments, but there's one that I know will be on my list. No, it's not Google, though they will probably be too.

Wikipedia is simply amazing. Google some even mildly obscure term, and Wikipedia will almost definitely be in the top ten, if not number one. What makes it work is the fact that there is nobody controlling how it works. You can go on there and add anything you want, even deliberate lies, yet it still works.

It's predecessor, Nupedia, was a more or less traditional approach. Though anybody could submit an article, it had a formal peer-review process that made sure that any article submitted had cleared a high hurdle of accuracy, accountablility before it ever saw the light of the internet. It based its credibility and level of expertise on these processes.

It failed.

Nupedia's successor, Wikipedia, threw out all the formality of peer review along with any hint of accountability. It was not only a popular success, but it acheived a level of credibility and expertise that, if not quite as firm as traditional encyclopedias, was good enough for most purposes. And it did it with an accessibility that absolutely put to shame that of any traditional scholarly sources.

Though there was no one guiding it, no-one and no process assuring credibility and expertise, these qualities emerged from the chaos of allowing anyone to add anything they wanted, subject only to the editing of the next guy who may or may not correct any inaccuracies or outright lies. It's an example of spontaneous order, which I mentioned in my first Advancement Tech article.

Without centralized control, order emerged from the chaos. Without authority, it became authoritative. Without accountability, it became trusted. This is an inspiration to those of us who see order in markets and private law that can emerge from the chaos of everybody ruthlessly pursing their own self-interest.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I'm involved in Blog Explosion now, to try to get some visitors to this thing. The basic idea is that you surf other member sites, for 20 seconds each (they have a way of enforcing this) to earn credits that get other members to surf your site.

Though you can buy credits outright, I'm doing the surfing thing right now. This has two benefits. The first is that I can broaden my horizons a bit, and see parts of the blogosphere I might never get to otherwise. The second, and most important, is that I get to see other blogs the way my new visitors are seeing mine.

I've learned a lot from this, in only a few hours of surfing.

  • You're only as good as your top article