Patrick Ross, wikipedia contributor

Noticed a post at TLF by Tim Lee about James de Long leaving the PFF, and in that post it was mentioned that Patrick Ross had also departed PFF. James, like Patrick, had a habit of putting up straw man arguments, usually about free and open source software, and taking them apart. Tim Lee did an excellent job of taking apart both Patrick’s and James’s rants, in his posts both over at IP Central and at TLF.

But I posted from time to time at IP Central anyway. The reason for that is inspiration from a variety of sources, chiefly from the excellent book Steal this Idea: the Corporate Confiscation of Creativity by Michael Perelman as well as an idea from Col. Boyd, whose advice was always to maintain connectivity, including with those you disagree with. I wanted to see what counter-arguments the strong IP crowd could muster against the whithering and total annihilation of the present system by Michael Perelman. I found out that they really did not have any substantive arguments, but did put out a lot of smoke, from burning all those straw horses. From time to time, though they made accusations that were just so outlandish, that a response was called for. Here is one such case.

In the course of criticizing wikipedia, Patrick Ross noted that there was no wikipedia entry for Battista Agnese:

” … Anyhow, I did a Google search on “Battista Agnese,” which told me there were 187,000 entries. Serious Google users know those numbers are meaningless, but it’s interesting that it’s a relatively small number; World War II gave me 242,000,000. After five pages of results I still saw no Wikipedia entry. So I searched for Battista Agnese on Wikipedia. It told me there was no entry but I was willing to create one.

I am not. But I suspect someone is. In fact, I’m sure once a Wikipediac sees this, he’ll rush to create one.”

And sure enough, in another post, the very next day :

“Well, after noting that there was no Wikipedia entry for Battista Agnese, someone named “Gregorrothfuss” posted one, and two minutes later “Dekimasu” edited it. The summary of Agnese wasn’t bad. I found it hard to believe that someone reading about its absence in my blog entry could perform so quickly the scholarship required to write an original piece. I was right. It’s lifted nearly verbatim from a site that appears #1 when you do a Google search for “Battista Agnese.” The site’s Battista entry is here; it’s part of a General Maps collection hosted by The Library of Congress. Reliable site, but there’s no mention on the Wikipedia entry of The Library of Congress, the General Maps collecion, or its page on Battista Agnese. It appears I’ve found more evidence of Jim’s derivative theory of Wikipedia content.

Oh, for now the Wikipedia entry still isn’t anywhere near the top of a Google search; I went through the first 100 entries and saw nothing (it’s possible Google’s spiders haven’t saved it yet). But how long until this derivative post supplants the Library of Congress entry in the top spot?

UPDATE: This Wikipedia entry has been expunged from history by another Wikipediac, who has posted a new entry that effectively whitewashes this entire affair..”

But in the course of frothing at the mouth about how evil and derivative wikipedia is, I noticed that each time Patrick Ross found fault with the wikipedia article, the article would be changed to address Patrick’s criticisms. So I noted the following, in a response:

Well, of course you realize that you have just contributed to Wikipedia, albeit indirectly.
Certainly, the article will be fixed to give the proper credit, and to remove any item if copyright did not allow quoting.
This is one of the real strengths of the open source process–the ability to subsume the work of your critics into your process of continuous improvement.

Posted by: enigma_foundry at August 15, 2006 2:23 PM

And still no one from IPCentral has thought of a rejoinder to my observation of the deep resiliency of any organization or system which entirely subsumes the work of its critics into its own process of improvement. This even gives Patrick Ross the chance to contribute to wikipedia, and in the process fix the flaws which he had observed. Note that he started out saying that he would not contribute to wikipedia: “It told me there was no entry but I was willing to create one. I am not.”

So, thank you, Patrick Ross, for your contributions to wikipedia!

Patrick Ross, wikipedia contributor

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