井底之蛙

7/26/2013

Wikipedia: Do Your Bit, Or, Mao Zedong Gets 100,000 Hits

Filed under: — C. W. Hayford @ 1:50 pm

Catching up on my reading, I came across a Wilson Quarterly post about Wikipedia, “In Essence: The Wikipedia Way,” which reports on an article by Richard Jensen, “Military History on the Electronic Frontier: Wikipedia Fights the War of 1812” The Journal of Military History (Oct. 2012).

Richard Jensen is a hardworking historian who does his bit to urge us all to do our bit. Wilson Quarterly uses his article to talk about the Wikipedia article, “War of 1812.” They note that “more than 2,400 self-appointed editors contributed to the 14,000-word article. Some 627 people spilled 200,000 words’ worth of digital ink arguing over its exact content. In April 2012, it garnered 172,000 page views.”

You could see the same pattern in China articles. “Mao Zedong,” for instance,  has been viewed 120,0082 times between June 26 and July 23. That’s right: 120,0082, though it will have changed by the time you click this link. The article has had nearly 10,000 edits, more than 400 editors.

Part of the fascination of Wikipedia is going backstage by clicking the “Talk Page” tab. Lots of juicy nonsense mixed in with the occasional words of wisdom1.

The articles on the major events of modern Chinese history are numerous. Most are too long and filled with quirky trivia. Some are useful summaries of what readers should know, some are … well, let’s just say they are not quite so good. You decide:

  • Xinhai Revolution (how many Wikipedia readers will know that this is the “1911 Revolution”?)

We could go on.

Moral: Those 100,000 readers need you.

On the internet “nobody knows that you’re a dog,” so don’t let the editing go to them.

 

 

 

 

  1. in this case, you have to click on the “Archived” links to see the back discussions). You can look at the individual edits by going to the “View History” tab []

6/30/2013

Pigs in the News and In Wikipedia: Or, Lipstick on a Frog

Filed under: — C. W. Hayford @ 1:40 pm

Vladimir Putin is on a roll. He has been having a fine time poking the US in the eye over the Edward Snowden kerfuffle,  but at a news conference he declined to comment: “In any case, I’d rather not deal with such questions, because anyway it’s like shearing a pig – lots of screams but little wool.”

That reminded me that it’s been too long since we talked about pigs. Just because we’re Frog in a Well doesn’t mean that we can only talk about frogs – in fact, pigs are our, well… bread and butter. I will modestly call attention to my piece, “Pigs, Shit, and Chinese History, or, Happy Year of the Pig!” Frog In a Well  (January 27 2007). You can find several more by clicking the “Pigs” link on the right hand column of this page.

Putin seems to be using one of the many, many colorful pig sayings. My father, who grew up on a farm, had a bunch of them, mostly unprintable. Wikipedia is good at accumulating this sort of thing. A succession of people edited the article “Lipstick on a Pig,”  which gives examples of usage going back decades, but the Wikipedia article  “Pig in a Poke” is even better. Many languages have a rough equivalent. It turns out that in  Latvia you say “Buy a cat in a sack.” Who knew? Wikipedia “Pigs in Popular Culture” has an extensive section of pig-related idioms.

Right. But what about China?

Wikipedia has many faults. It is a great grab bag, not an encyclopedia. But, as the computer software people like to say, “that’s not a bug, it’s a feature.” China and pigs is a good example. If you want to have some idiotic fun, go to Wikipedia, any page, and in the upper right hand corner you will find a “Search” box. Enter “~Pigs + China” (without the quotation marks). The tilde (~) means that you don’t want articles with this word in the title, but all  Wikipedia pages with the following words in it.

Amazing. I got 7,259 hits. Of course, this includes duplicates, off the wall irrelevances, rock songs, and pig iron, but also a fascinating variety of things you would not have thought to look up: “Coprophagia”, Dutch Pacification Campaign on Formosa,” as well as straightforward finds such as “Science and technology of the Song Dynasty.“And that’s less than a dozen of the hits, leaving more than 7,000 to go.

This search, random though it may be, is a dramatic way to see the central role that pigs played in Chinese history.

And oh, young people today just don’t know the classics — the Muppets’ “Pigs in Space.” Vladimir Putin’s soft power sneers can’t compare. YouTube has tons of them: Pigs in Space at YouTube.

 

 

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