[nSLUG] Complete control is better? (was: Wikipedia)

Daniel Morrison draker at gmail.com
Tue Nov 3 10:08:32 AST 2009

2009/11/3 Richard Bonner <ak621 at chebucto.ns.ca>:
> On Mon, 2 Nov 2009, Ben Armstrong wrote:
>> On Mon, 2 Nov 2009 12:23:03 -0400 (AST)
>> Richard Bonner <ak621 at chebucto.ns.ca> wrote:
>>>    Until they get complete control over it, there's a good reason I
>>> call it "Why? Ki-pedia".
>> So when large, monopolistic software companies exercise "complete
>> control" they're evil, but when encyclopedists do, it's good?
> ***   Hmm, I should clarify...  (-:  What I meant by "control" was
> that editors would need to verify information as they would with a
> printed encyclopedia.

It sounds the same to me...

>> Why do you hate freedom? :)
> ***   No hate for freedom, Ben;

I'm quite certain this question was asked tongue-in-cheek...

> I am just against the abuses and
> inaccuracies that permeate public resources when there are no
> overseers.

And I am against the abuses and inaccuracies that permeate
privately-controlled resources when there are overseers who exercise
"complete control".

You see, there will be abuses and inaccuracies either way. There is no
free lunch, the world is not safe, we cannot put 100% trust in
anything, etc.

The question to ask is: having understood that there WILL be abuses
and inaccuracies, would we rather allow those abuses to be served to
us in a top-down way by self-proclaimed authorities, with no recourse
to correct those abuses when they are noticed by that minority who can
correct them? Or would we prefer an open, bottom-up system in which
individuals can exercise the power to correct flaws in a collaborative

The argument has been made and is done with for security concerns --
the experts consensus is that the open method is better. Security
through obscurity does not work. Security through publishing your
algorithm, essentially challenging the world to break it, does work.
This is why ssh is secure, and Linux is secure, and DVD encryption and
MS Windows is not.

We might still spend a lot of time debating this, but to my mind,
there is a quick way to short-circuit the problem to an answer. There
is another factor: that such large and comprehensive systems, as they
grow, become TOO large and TOO difficult for a single entity to
effectively control. A small number of coders CANNOT verify every line
of code in a large closed source software, and we have WIndows. But a
large number of coders can do such a thing in a large open source
software, and we have Linux.

A small number of overseers at Britannica CANNOT effectively oversee
and keep up to date a large body of work such as an encyclopedia. A
large number of overseers CAN do so at Wikipedia.


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