Welcome to a new experiment in humor columning: the wikicolumn. This revolutionary approach to communal wackiness is based on the [trendy] [rumor-mongering] free online encyclopedia Wikipedia, which allows its articles to be edited by anyone in the world with results that are often very educational indeed, if not necessarily on the original topic.
Wikipedia was founded in   [the age of the dinosaurs] 2001 by [Bill Gates] [Jayson Blair] Jimmy Wales, who wanted to produce a vibrant, ever-growing encyclopedia that could expand and autocorrect itself by allowing anyone reading an article to [make changes] [replace it with pig latin] edit as they see fit. This, he [hypotheseized] [hypotheseed] [hypothosoosed] guessed would result in accurate and relevant articles because Jimmy Wales didn’t understand people very well. Wikipedia is named after the Hawaiian word “wiki,” which means literally “ha ha, wait ’til someone reads this.”
There are several advantages to this format, notably the speed at which new events are updated — celebrity deaths are often posted here before the television news finds out and sometimes even before the first souvenir hospital chart shows up at eBay — and the breadth of the coverage. Experts both professional and amateur have contributed to Wikipedia, and if you know something about something your words can also become part of the permanent record of mankind’s accumulated knowledge, at least until some jerk comes along and deletes it all.
While useful, Wikipedia entries are not generally considered [fun to dance to] authoritative due to the lack of peer review or [facts] [usefulness] [accuracy] provenance. But, like political spokespeople, they are still an invaluable source of information as long as you don’t rely on them at all.
The wiki philosophy has not lent itself well to news-gathering or opinion, however. The Los Angeles Times recently attempted to launch wikitorials by allowing readers to make changes to their newspaper’s opinion page. This ground-breaking experiment in journalism lasted about 20 minutes or approximately the length of time it took an editor to read the first readers’ comments, finish throwing up, and scream into a phone.
Last week Wikipedia made the news again after a prankster changed the entry for former Robert Kennedy aide John Seigenthaler to read that Seigenthaler was [dating Pamela Anderson] [eating a large mince pie] [dating Pamela Anderson] implicated in the JFK assassination. This revision went unnoticed for months and was only corrected after Seigenthaler happened to google the words “mince pie” and “pamela anderson” for reasons known only to himself.
So. We have a process that is inaccurate, subject to change by consensus, and potentially libelous. In short, perfect for a humor column, and so I’m changing my format.
Now the lack of adequate research which has, in all modesty, become the signature of my column will be corrected immediately. For example, in a column about MP3s I made the following statement: “Heck, let me download music in the grocery store during long lines when I’m going crazy because I can’t identify which song is being butchered by Muzak.” Soon afterwards I heard from Sumter Cox, Director of Corporate Communications at Muzak, Inc, who let me know that Muzak hasn’t re-recorded music for over 25 years. Had I been wikified, that little gaffe could have been cleared up instantly to cover the shocking fact that I haven’t stepped into an elevator in three decades. Fear of lighted buttons. You understand.
In fact, I won’t even have to produce a finished column anymore. I can just type in the subject (e.g. iPods, Rob Schneider, Harry Potter predictions, etc) and you guys can funny it up to your hearts’ content. Did I miss a pun? Was there a butt joke I inexplicably omitted? Stick it in there! Check this out:
Why did the [pig] [Libertarian] [collective consciousness] chicken cross the [avenue] [teamsters] road?
[To achieve enlightenment] [To save big on his auto insurance] [To replace an economy based on manual labor with one dominated by industry and machine manufacture] To get to the other side!
Ha! Hilarious! And it only took the combined effort of 137 contributors and three weeks of bickering. A new age of comedy is dawning.
Meanwhile I can use the extra time to do something more worthwhile, like making Wikipedia corrections. That place is a mess.