Wikipedia’s inaccuracies put forth by people interested in defaming famous figures is well documented. I still find the communal junk heap of information useful in the same way I find I find a casual search in Google useful: it will tell me what people are thinking and what people have felt strongly enough to post. I have long ago lost any sense that what I’m reading is actually factually accurate, but I do take a random webpage to have some insight into whatever subject I’m trying to read. When I want to find facts, though, I consult ProQuest and hope the newspaper article I pull has been fact checked.
Yesterday I found myself reading the voluminousness and apparently rapidly growing body of knowledge of Star Wars. And realized that Wikipedia easily has more information relating to George Lucas’s fantasy life than it does to the entire city of Seattle or the Pacific Northwest. I discovered that Jedi when using lightsabers use eight historical combat styles. Yoda and Darth Maul use Form IV – Ataru which means the Jedi uses the Force to throw around their body. Darth Maul is that face-tattooed guy from the first of the new movies played a marital artist who threw himself around. Yoda flitted around in the same series during sword fights, a random green CGI blob.
I’m enough of a geek that it didn’t occur to me that I was reading this on the web’s version of the encyclopedia. It didn’t occur until I began to the history of the Jedi space craft that these entries put to bed the entire idea of inaccuracies about famous people, the infiltration of the entire Wikipedia encyclopedia with the gnats of buzz marketers, that the entire foundation of a communal repository of fact is flawed since it assumes that fact has any kind of residence inside the communal mind.
Even if we were able to create a digital version of Borge’s Library of Babel, I suspect people would spend more of their time consulting this complete set of all human knowledge looking for information on Star Wars or Lost or finding crackpot theological scrolls. Well, maybe not everyone, but I would.