Bradley M. Kuhn

Wikipedia on 60 Minutes

Bradley M. Kuhn at

The media admittedly often takes the worst possible soundbite, but it's unfortunate that the Wikipedia story on 60 Minutes tonight included a Wikipedian saying that "its growth could be infinite".

I assure the world with complete certainty that Wikipedia will remain finite forever.

The quote was probably a mis-speak, but I'm disturbed that 60 Minutes decided to use a quote that had a Wikipedian stating a mathematical impossibility in a story about knowledge and its dissimenation freely to the public.

Also, I wonder if there's a subtle sexism in the editing, since that item just happened to be a quote from a female Wikipedian rather than the male ones.

Meanwhile, I must also note I'm quite disturbed that Sue Gardner said "Wikipedians are a little bit OCD". It's really not appropriate to opine publicly that a class of people in our community have a psychological disorder. Sue is not the only community leader I've seen do this, though, it's just that she was on 60 Minutes saying it.

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this assumes human expansion is finite, which may or may not be true. Of course, distributed computing across planets will make for some serious diff issues.

I suppose at some point there are also concerns about speciation, so perhaps we should just be talking about intelligent beings (though intelligence is also debateable).

Doug Whitfield at 2015-04-06T17:14:41Z

I agree with lnxwalt. My point was that nothing we do on a computer is infinite. It can't be.

If the speaker really meant to talk about growth that would continue as long as human beings are around, then the right words are "unbounded" or "indefinite". They don't sound as exciting as infinite, of course, but the accurate rarely sounds as exciting as the inaccurate.

Bradley M. Kuhn at 2015-04-06T17:22:50Z

I just learned that "infinite" can mean "immeasurably great" http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/infinite

Whatever the accepted definitions though, clearly the use of the word leaves one open to criticism, and I suppose is to be avoided. There are other words that fall in this category. For example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fag & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controversies_about_the_word_"niggardly"

Doug Whitfield at 2015-04-06T17:40:05Z

The supposition of sexism seems to be based on the assumption that 60 Minutes agrees with you on the pedantic criticism of the Wikipedian's use of "infinite growth" (if I understand the point correctly). This however seems highly unlikely.

Richard Fontana at 2015-04-09T17:09:10Z