[update: Mr. Baker apologized — see comment below. That was very nice of him.]
I was laughing in spite of myself through Nicholson Baker’s essay about Wikipedia (agreeing with him on many points, and yet irritated that such a biblio-retro could make me chuckle) when I read:
Someone recently proposed a Wikimorgue—a bin of broken dreams where all rejects could still be read, as long as they weren’t libelous or otherwise illegal. Like other middens, it would have much to tell us over time. We could call it the Deletopedia.
Wait, I thought. Wasn’t I that someone? I had suggested the Wikimorgue in my CIO.com article last September.
Oh, come on, said the other Self hovering over my head. Big-britches Nicholson couldn’t be referring to me. At most, this is one of those great ideas that a million people came up with before I did.
Naturally, I finally broke down and Googled the phrase, then looked it up in Wikipedia, where (at least as of this writing) I am sourced for that expression. (No, I am not a sock puppet!)
I’m generous enough, and not paranoid enough, to say that when The Economist has a graph or two that’s close to what I said in my piece, I agree they said it well and put their spin on it. There’s nothing new under the sun, and it’s impossible to critique Wikipedia without making sport of what I called its “bureaucratic patois” — the kind of detail that sticks in a reader’s mind.
But anyhoo. What is a citation that does not reference the source? Was Baker too shy or busy — or was he unwilling to give proper credit to one of those “telecommunications enthusiasts” who toss books from libraries willy-nilly when they are not trampling his fair copies and grinding them into microfiche?
Isn’t it peculiar that I sourced this through Wikipedia, with which I have a relationship so complex it rivals that of my family of origin?
Oh, and in a neat twist, we can tie this in to librarianship, because Thomas Mann (the hired gun, not the author) gave me the same Nobody treatment in his latest screed against the proposed cataloging standard, RDA. I’m the citation he references as “Google Blogs.”
Which provides a slant rhyme neatly concluding this post (and for which I can even supply a YouTube video):
I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us—don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
Posted on this day, other years:
- Chauncey Bailey: Paying the Price for Free Speech - 2012
- Fly Away Dell - 2006
- Making Self-Check a Carrot - 2005
- ALA Online Election: Tastes Just Like Chicken! - 2004