Second thoughts about old and new media

Ed Felten’s having second thoughts about his reactions to the famed New Yorker article about Wikipedia…

It turns out that EssJay, one of the Wikipedia users described in The New Yorker article, is not the “tenured professor of religion at a private university” that he claimed he was, and that The New Yorker reported him to be. He’s actually a 24-year-old, sans doctorate, named Ryan Jordan.

It’s a long and typically thoughtful post. In the end, Prof. Felten reaches this conclusion:

In the wake of this episode The New Yorker looks very bad (and Wikipedia only moderately so) because people regard an error in The New Yorker to be exceptional in a way the exact same error in Wikipedia is not. This expectations gap tells me that The New Yorker, warts and all, still gives people something they cannot find at Wikipedia: a greater, though conspicuously not total, degree of confidence in what they read.