Why is Elon Musk attacking Wikipedia? Because its very existence offends him | Zoe Williams

  • October 23, 2023
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The X owner has no time for a democratic experiment dedicated to knowledge. He would rather yell puerile ‘jokes’ into the ether

Just before the 2017 UK general election, I was introduced to the distinction between the good internet and the bad internet, democratically speaking. First, I had to learn what “civic tech” meant. In the broadest possible terms, it’s using online platforms to do socially useful things, rather than sell things, buy things or whip each other into an unspeakable fury about stuff that we didn’t care about five minutes ago.

The civic tech expert Ed Saperia used as his parable the difference between Wikipedia and Facebook. Jimmy Wales’s big experiment, which started life in 1999 as Nupedia, has created an open-source collection of human knowledge in hundreds of languages that is essentially trustworthy. If a mistake creeps in through the gates of human generosity, it gets corrected in the same way. If malicious actors try to slander their foes, the punishment is not cancellation, but more like lifelong ridicule, which is proportionate, given how long a slanderous person is likely to carry on doing ridiculous things. In other words, it is the best of humanity, all natural desire to help each other with cross-pollinated knowledge concentrated in one place.

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