so i’ve been thinking about wikis lately, and how truth tends to percolate up better in this environment. i’m wondering if there’s a power law here or a way to support that statement logically. does the value of a particular statement or narrative tend to gain truth, to evolve intellectually, in direct correlation to the number of people who are given an opportunity to alter it? is there a way to quantify the inherent likelihood that a ‘meme’ is ‘true’ and accurate based on something as simple as the number of editors?
where t is some kind of “truth quotient”*;
where a is the number of contributors to any given narrative/piece of information/concept;
where b is the passage of time;
t = ab
*-this could represent anything from the likelihood of an actual mundane binary fact to be true/not, all the way to the likelihood that a narrative or a point of view is closest to or best represents pure, unbiased, universal truth
because it’s not just the number of editors that matters. if you had 100 people contribute to an idea over one day, i think at the end of the day you’d have a much poorer idea qualitatively than if you had 100 people contribute the same amount of time to it, but over a period of a year. ideological contributions are worth more if they’ve had more time to marinate in the cosmic stew.
i’ve noticed in places like wikipedia the bias tends to get wrung out of even the most controversial of topics as the entries continue to be modified, over time, at the hands of people across the idealogical spectrum. so the ideas are able to evolve in two ways. they first evolve by pure chronological maturity. as we get older and wiser as a species, (setting my cynicism aside for a moment) we tend to get a smidge brighter and maybe a touch more enlightened. so our ways of thinking and looking at the world (again, generally speaking) tend to improve qualitatively. we have a better people are, in this medium, asked to remove emotion and assumptions from topics existentially essential or just painfully mundane. but bertrand russell once said something about hanging question marks on all your assumptions from time to time. writing objectively – or as objectively as any human can – about a topic on which you are either very passionate or very experienced can be nearly impossible. the truth quotient is a way to turn that very difficulty into a collective asset.
this sort of gets to the nut of why i find wikis (especially as they relate to the media, current events, or even encyclopedic ones like wikipedia,) to be such fascinating intellectual petri dishes.
sorry about all that and if it seems sophomoric. i promise to just post a chick next time