Sunday, March 26, 2006

A whole new world of knowledge

Something very interesting happened on the Internet this past week.

The Washington Post web site hired a young right-wing blogger to comment on news and policy. A lot of readers were outraged that he was hired, considering him to be a shallow, dishonest bigot.

But that's not the interesting part. Within a couple of days other bloggers, using only Google, dug up numerous examples of this young blogger's repeated plagiarism, and he was forced to resign.

All sorts of questions arise from this, like why was he hired in the first place, but the really crucial aspects are this: 1. It took next to no time for the young blogger's critics to nail him to the wall; and 2. the Washington Post web site seems to have made no effort to check out his past commentary.

The second point indicates that we are in a whole new world of knowledge. Supposedly authoritative institutions and individuals as well are going to be under constant scrutiny by thousands if not millions of people who were not long ago forced to be a passive audience.

And authoritative institutions are having a hard time facing this fact. See the reader commentary directed at the editor of the online version of the Post here.

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