[LINK] new use for wikipedia -- writing books

Jan Whitaker jwhit at janwhitaker.com
Thu Jun 25 09:21:44 EST 2009

from: Fwd: Publishers Lunch

Free Indeed; Anderson's New Book Lifts Numerous Passages from Wikipedia
The Virginia Quarterly Review convincingly reproduces a number of 
incidences in Chris Anderson's new book FREE: The Future of a Radical 
Price that reproduce nearly verbatim portions of a number of 
Wikipedia articles.

Anderson admits fault via e-mail, saying "all those are my screwups 
after we decided not to run notes as planned, due to my inability to 
find a good citation format for web sources." He intended to "do a 
write-through" of "source material without an individual author to 
credit (as in the case of Wikipedia)," and says that "obviously in my 
rush at the end I missed a few of that last category, which is 
bad.... I should have had a better process to make sure the 
write-through covered all the text that was not directly sourced.

"I think what we'll do is publish those notes after all, online as 
they should have been to begin with. That way the links are live and 
we don't have to wrestle with how to freeze them in time, which is 
what threw me in the first place."

As you can imagine, Hyperion supports Anderson's statement: "We are 
completely satisfied with Chris Anderson's response. It was an 
unfortunate mistake, and we are working with the author to correct 
these errors both in the electronic edition before it posts, and in 
all future editions of the book."

But Fast Company observes: "What's more disconcerting is that 
Anderson was relying so heavily on Wikipedia for his information in 
the first place; even middle-school book-reports shouldn't be crafted 
with ancillary information from that site. Confoundingly, many of the 
passages that appear lifted were readily-available definitions of 
terms that would appear in more credible reference books like the 
Oxford English Dictionary."

Subsequently, Ed Champion finds and 
about various other lightly rewritten or borrowed phrasings from 
other sources (including a passage from a book by Wired colleague 
Kevin Kelly). "A cursory plunge into the book's contents reveals that 
Anderson has not only cribbed material from Wikipedia and websites 
(sometimes without accreditation), but that he has a troubling habit 
of mentioning a book or an author and using this as an excuse to 
reproduce the content with very few changes -- in some cases, nearly verbatim."

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
jwhit at janwhitaker.com
blog: http://janwhitaker.com/jansblog/
business: http://www.janwhitaker.com

Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or 
sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.
~Madeline L'Engle, writer

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