Some are calling what Virgil Griffith is doing hacking, but I think it’s journalism, computational journalism.
Griffith, a graduate student in Computation and Neural Systems at Caltech, created a stir last year when he released Wikiscanner. It revealed how active companies were in cleansing their Wikipedia entries of negative news. Now, Griffith, pictured on right, has released Wikiwatcher, a set of tools that go further in revealing just who makes edits to Wikipedia entries.
The software is part of a Cal Tech project called “Wikiganda” that says:
Deliberate misinformation and false propaganda has been a problem since the dawn of civilization. This problem is acute with ever more information obtained — by all segments of the public — from open digital encyclopaedias such as Wikipedia. Deliberate insertions of falsehoods, or partial truths, are especially dangerous in an election year. The goal of this project is to develop and implement algorithms that help identify information that may be suspect.
Some people are voicing privacy concerns, but there’s usually some yelps when a toe or two get stubbed when someone start turning over rocks. I hope Griffith and the other members on his team keep turning over rocks.
(Photo from Vigil Griffith Web site)
(Via Muhammad Saleem)