Tuesday, January 16, 2007


A true Wikipedian loves books

Despite this morning snowfall, my copy of Samuel Gobat's Journal of a Three Years' Residence in Abyssinia arrived today. It's a primary source with which I hope to enrich a number of Wikipedia articles relating to Ethiopia.

One might think that in this day of electronic information available on demand (on your iPod, on your Internet tablet, on your cellphone, and if you're old-fashioned, on your workstation) that a Wikipedian disdains anything as old school as a bound book; maybe some of the younger ones do. However, I believe the most earnest Wikipedians are more comfortable with books than they are with online sources. I consider it to be fighting words when one Wikipedian accuses another that she/he relies only on online sources or Google searches for her/his research.

After all, part of the labor of Wikipedia is migrating as many of the printed sources to the electronic medium of structured data as possible. Recycling material from websites only benefits Wikipedia's goal -- of providing free access to information -- over the short-term. But more to the point, real Wikipedians are not only literate, they love to read, and the printed page is far easier on the eyes than a computer monitor.

In any case, this is a book that neither my local public library or my college library have. And there is something very satisfying for me in that statement -- although this book is not the only one in my personal library for which this is the case.


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