Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Gregorian Chant, stable release via Wikipedia

Note that the Wikipedia entry on Gregorian Chant appears Thursday (day after tomorrow) on the front page of this remarkable little site with 1.3 million plus entries. What this means, really, is that Gregorian Chant on Thursday will receive more attention than any article online in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, all news services, etc. combined. For non-believers, here is a primer on the reach of Wikipedia.

To me this entry alone is enough to dispell the popular impression that Wikipedia is nothing but a pile of junk. I ventured into the Wikipedia biz a few weeks ago, and found out quickly that I was way over my head. I made a couple of tiny changes in an entry and found them reversed in a matter of minutes, and for very good reasons. I then went into a discussion on my proposed additions and found myself faced with a crowd of severe experts who knew more about the subject in question and far more about the technology. Wikipedia may look like a free-for-all, but the reality is that if the iron law of oligarchy works anywhere it is here.

Older people face incredible challenges living in this age of technological leaps and bounds. I know brilliant people for whom email alone is baffling. Wikipedia is the sort of thing that pushes people over the edge. It seems like it could never ever work. And yet it does. It takes some serious reflection on the higher theory of social organization to understand why.

What can we say about the oldest and most stable form of living music being propagated in this venue that represents the bleeding edge of technological advance? Well, words fail.

If you have changes to make to this entry, you need to do it now, but prepare to climb a steep learning curve and face some very impressive editors. Another option would be spend some time improving this entry on the St. Louis Jesuits , which has only one author and could use a bit of work.