Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Monday, January 26, 2009

Some of you may know I maintain a blog on the latest findings in the Valley of the Kings. It's now pretty certain that two new tombs have been found and opened; the rumours of a third are highly credible and there are indications of a fourth. If I was a betting woman, I'd say five will be announced over the next 2 - 3 years.

You've not heard of such major discoveries? Well, that's because they haven't been officially announced because (for unknown reasons) they Egyptian team wants to keep them secret. I'm not suggesting anything sinister - it's probably more that they want a big fanfare rather than lots of separate announcements - but since the first was probably located 18 months ago, it's been a long wait. In the meantime, it's a case of piecing together a story from rumours, tourist photos and a word here and there by people who know (some of) the whole story.

But it's not just the old world of archaeology as well. Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, has just announced an intention to stop the free edit of Wikipedia so that all revisions have to be approved before publication. With so many Wikipedia articles still stubs, and other inaccurate or incomplete (well my interests tend to be esoteric so when I visit Wikipedia it's usually the backwaters I'm exploring), that's not going to help get it completed.

But perhaps Jimmy has his own motives for wanting to curtail editorial freedom? It is clear he objected to publication of his liaison with Rachel Marsden. Ths Valleywag article also alleges that he personally edited Rachel's biography.

But according to the IM conversation Marsden shared with Valleywag, Wales
was well aware that in ordering changes to her bio, he was breaking one of
Wikipedia's cardinal rules. Wikipedia bills itself as an encyclopedia with a
"neutral point of view," and contributors are told not to edit articles where
they have a conflict of interest.

Indeed, the Wikipedia page for Jimmy Wales reports:
Wales had a brief relationship with
Canadian journalist Rachel Marsden in 2008
that began after Marsden contacted Wales about her Wikipedia biography.[61]
After accusations that Wales' relationship constituted a conflict of
interest
, Wales announced in March 2008 on his Wikipedia user page (and
later on his personal blog) that there had been a relationship but that it was
over and that it had not influenced any matters on Wikipedia.[62][63]
Marsden claimed to have learned about the breakup by reading about it on
Wikipedia, and listed for eBay auction a T-shirt and sweater
which she claimed Wales left behind at her apartment.

So it is clear that Wales himself has not observed a policy of editorial neutrality on Wikipedia. One wonders whether, and to what degree, his decision to force editorial review could have been influenced by having details of his own love life exposed on Wikipedia. Charitably, that could be out of concern for others; however, Rachel Marsden's own Wikipedia bio is hardly flattering.

As Web 2.0 matures, the old world news management techniques will fail. Politicians are used to their indiscretions not being splashed by the newspapers until the newspapers are sure that a story can be second sourced. In the world of blogs and Twitter, that's no longer going to be the case and news will get out virally. Whether that is a bystander to an event taking pictures or video on their phone, or rumours spreading via Twitter, news is becoming grassroots.

We will all guard our privacy jealously, but doing so is going to require different techniques than worked before Web 2.0

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