Feb. 13th, 2009

Or at least know where to look and double-check, if possible.

It turns out that the new German minister for economy, Mr zu Guttenberg has a wagonload of first names, since he's from the nobility. Nearly every major newspaper in Germany hit on to that fact. Among the array of names given they always gave "Wilhelm", too. Which is about the only first name Mr zu Guttenberg doesn't have.

How did it come to this?
There was a guy who decided to have fun with wikipedia, and inserted the "Wilhelm" into Mr zu Guttenbergs wikipedia entry just after the announcement of his appointment had been made. It ended up across what is basically the entirety of German media. And because wikipedia takes media citation as proof of reliability, this created an interesting circle.  

So, lessons learned?
Serious journalism isn't what it used to be. The hive-mind that is the internet is largely self-referential. And wikipedia is, after all, changeable by everyone. So don't be surprised if everyone does just that.

I'm sure there's something infinitely more philosophical about this little incident, but I can't really put it into words. It was just a thing I deem very worth noticing.

This is the German bildblog entry for this.
http://www.bildblog.de/5695/wie-ich-freiherr-von-guttenberg-zu-wilhelm-machte/
Plus a recap of how major news sites reacted:
http://www.bildblog.de/5731/wilhelm-ii/

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bbgreenie

April 2010

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