11 March 2003
DISINFOPEDIA - FROM PR WATCH
see also: Who's spinning the GM story?
People who promote GM food and/or denigrate Organic food
and the Center for Science in the Public Interest's Integrity in Science Internet Database on corporate ties of scientists, academics, and non-profit organizations in the fields of nutrition, environment, toxicology, and medicine:
Disinfopedia from PR WATCH
As the United States lurches awkwardly into war, we want to invite you to participate in a new project launched by the same people who brought you the Weekly Spin and PR Watch. We are calling it a "Disinfopedia" -- an online, collaboratively-written "encyclopedia of propaganda." It lets anyone, INCLUDING YOU, contribute or edit any article at any time.
To try it yourself, please visit the following URL:
The Disinfopedia runs on the same software as Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org), a successful project to produce a "complete and accurate open content encyclopedia." It operates under the "GNU open document license," which is similar to the "open source" license used to develop free software such as the Linux computer operating system.
This model of human collaborative research operates according to surprisingly simple principles that resemble the system of "peer review" used in scientific research. On Disinfopedia, everyone is a peer reviewer. Anyone can submit an article, and anyone can edit any article. You might worry that this would lead to anarchy and mere gibberish. Actually, though, this approach has worked quite well in practice. In only two years of operation, Wikipedia has already developed more than 100,000 articles, many of which are comparable in detail and accuracy to the Encyclopedia Britannica. This approach works for the same reason that open source software keeps improving: For every person who makes a malicious or erroneous contribution, numerous others correct errors and make improvements.
With war on the horizon, developing a public resource on propaganda has never been more important. We have drafted an essay about Iraq-related propaganda, titled "Weapons of mass deception," which you can read (and revise) at the following URL:
Beyond the immediate goal of developing a resource on propaganda, we hope that the Disinfopedia can serve as an example that will help in developing alternatives to conventional, mass-media journalism. Traditional media lend themselves readily to a "propaganda" style of communication, in which a small number of individuals produce messages designed for broadcasting to millions of passive recipients. The Internet has contributed to breaking down this artificial dichotomy between "broadcaster" and "audience." The Disinfopedia is an experiment that we hope will go further still, by demonstrating that "the masses" can do just as good a job of analyzing and understanding their information environment as professional journalists.
In order for this to succeed, of course, we need people like you (yes, YOU) to add your eyeballs and your intelligence to this project. We hope you will take a look at the Disinfopedia. Cast your vote for a more democratic world by contributing early, and contributing often!
Laura Miller, Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber Editors of PR Watch (www.prwatch.org)