Monday, February 21, 2005

Mirror sites / mirroring our universe

The other morning on WNYC/NPR, they were discussing the merits and drawbacks of Wikipedia, the open-source internet encyclopedia where anyone can add or edit entries, and one speaker highlighted a potential pitfall of the online site by referring to a short story by Borges in which a map of a country becomes so detailed as to span ... the actual entire country. She cited this story and contrasted it with Encyclopedia Britannica, which aims to give a summary of the highlights of the world of knowledge, without actually encompassing the world of knowledge.

I had to go and see if Wikipedia itself had a reference to this short story, and so it did. (It turned out to be only a paragraph long!) Unfortunately, I had to find the information through a site called Answers.com that extracts much of its info from Wikipedia, since the original site has been lately affected by a power failure: "Power corrupts. Power failure corrupts absolutely," proclaimed the site this evening.

That's one thing hard-copy volumes have on Wikipedia -- unless of course you consider how infrequently public libraries are open these days.

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