I left this comment to a post regarding Wikipedia at Ross Mayfield’s Many-to-Many Corante blog. I believe it to be true.

No serious researcher sole-sources his research. Both Britannica and Wikipedia can be expected to reflect biases. Inaccuracies will creep into any compendium of facts. Online resources like Wikipedia are more easily corrected than print publications like Britannica. The errata sheet is by its nature a static document amending a static document. The Wikipedia format permits a researcher to follow the development of content and the editorial consensus building that takes place as content is normalized. Wikipedia can provide a useful starting point for real research, and it can provide a quick background in unfamiliar terrain. It’s a useful tool.

The more general debate about Wikis is a debate about human nature and is rife with assumptions about motives and opportunities. The real crime is that nobody has run a longitudinal study of the marginal utility of Wikis to members/users that examines a statistically significant population across a meaningful time span. Somebody oughta, somebody oughta…

Wikipedia, et al.

Shelley Powers and Joi Ito, among others, opened a conversation regarding the relative truth to be found in Wikipedia, a compendium that relies on its readers to update and hone content. Wikipedia has few editorial policies, perhaps the guiding and most important is that those who contribute should strive to maintain a Neutral Point of View (NPOV).

Following that discussion, I happened upon a reference to in a column in Paul Krugman’s “The Great Unraveling.” Specifically Krugman offered a definition of “one-time charge” as found in

I looked it up. Investopedia offers a discussion of one-time charges in an article about financial statement chicanery, but it doesn’t offer a direct reference through its own search function. How would Wikipedia handle this I wondered? It turns out that neither “one-time charge” nor “one-time event” has its own listing in Wikipedia, but the site offered me the opportunity to create one. Even so, “one time events” are discussed in the “Income” article, and the sense one gets about the use of “one time events” is that there is some controversy and that critics generally think of them as ways to fool investors. This is the line that Investopedia is pushing, but in Wikipedia it is presented in an arguably neutral way (the use of the word “supposedly” diminishes the neutrality somewhat):

Pro forma income is an estimate of how much the company would have earned without including the negative effect of exceptional “one-time events”, supposedly in order to show investors how much money the company would have made under normal circumstances if these exceptional, one-time events had not occurred. Critics charge that, in most cases, the “one-time events” are normal business events, such as an acquisition of another company or a write off of a cancelled project or division, and that pro forma reporting is an attempt to mislead investors by painting a rosy financial picture.

If you simply Google the phrase “one-time charge” the top listing is from Disinfopedia. Ourobouros takes another bite! The Disinfopedia article on one-time charges points to the original column by Krugman that I’d read in “The Great Unraveling.”

What does all this mean? Well, for one thing, triangulating the general sense of the meaning of a single accounting term through Wikipedia, Disinvopedia, and Investopedia, we see that the popular culture is biased toward an understanding put forward by Mr. Krugman. I don’t know much more about one-time charges than I knew from reading his article. All of the Wiki paths I travelled seem to be in different regions of the same layer of the onion, and in order to deepen my understanding, I’ll have to peel another layer or three.

All the Fits That’s News to Print

Here are a few links to help keep tabs on what’s up at Nuremburg Stadium this week:

The Village Voice

NYC Indymedia


New York Times

The True Church of our Lord Soapbox Louie Crocodile The Invisible

Who is Leonard Plinth Garnell? Reward for information leading to the real world identity of the underground blogging man of mystery.

Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and the Hot Club of Cow Town

On Madison’s far North side, out by the Mendota State Mental Hospital and a few blocks from the Northport Drive public housing projects is a little ball field, home of the extremely minor league Madison Mallards baseball club. Tonight 15,000 people ponied up about US$675,000 to share an evening’s music. The grandstand and bleachers were full, and save for a roped section of infield preserving the diamond for its

Continue reading

Welcome Stranger…

…now go home.

I also remembered Madison being dirtier and poorer than it is. Memories of opinions. Perhaps my point of view then was more priviledged somehow, or my tolerance for grunge has gone up.


Join the Great American Shout Out

On September 2nd, 2024, at approximately 10 pm, George W. Bush will appear on television screens nationwide. For some of our fellow citizens, this will be a moment of joy. But for most of us, it will be the low point of an incredibly exasperating week.

Until now, there have been only two options: miss the speech (either by screaming at the television or turning it off), or bottle up the frustration within us, causing irreparable psychological harm. The first option is unbecoming of citizens in a democracy. The second option is just terrible. But now, for the first time, we have a better way. At the moment we see the president on our television screens, we will rise. We will throw open our windows. And, as George W. Bush moves to the podium in New York City, we will send him a message about his bid for reelection: we will yell, “fuggedaboudit!”

Thanks to Greg for the link.

“White Shoe Consultancy”

Lisa DiCarlo calls Bain a “White Shoe Consultancy” (thanks to Doc for the link). I wonder if this means they close down after Labor Day? Regardless, DiCarlo’s Forbes article and Doc’s article are thought provoking. The impediment to opening a large organization to a good relationship with its own internal IT resources is strictly cultural. Companies by and large aren’t organized with coherent strategic direction of IT resources that can be embedded in business units and work to support unit goals. Budgets are segregated. IT project efforts are managed by a separate service unit. Management of the IT unit talks the talk about internal service provision and customer service to internal business partners. Often, this bespeaks a distinction, a gulf of understanding dotted with islands of responsibility in a complex enterprise.

When people come together to do something, they have choices about how to get things done. The less transparent the internal IT organization, the more likely they will find themselves competing for work with external providers. We seldom speak anymore of the arcane priesthood of the glass walled and raised floored temples to dinosaur maineframe-ism, but cultural vestiges remain, both in the experience and expectations of senior management and in the attitudes and training of IT professionals.

Corporate strategic planning must include a significant IT component. IT strategic planning that is managed separately exposes the enterprise to risks that can be avoided. Rather than asking IT planners to craft an IT strategic plan, corporate planners have to integrate that effort with the broader planning efforts that are always underway. So often it comes back to improving communications and eliminating silos. IT people can educate their company’s management on the possibilities, while management can help the IT people to understand the limits for investment. But everybody needs to be working in the same room with t heir eyes wide open to these possibilities and constraints.