/* ---- Google Analytics Code Below */

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Captchas and Ann Hathaway in Encyclopedias

I mentioned the term Captcha in a recent post. The term refers to the distorted letters you are asked to interpret when you sign up for a new web service. The object of this is to detect that there is a human asking for the service, as opposed to a spam-spewing robot. The term is defined in a detailed article in the Wikipedia. It is not to be found at all in the premium version of the Britannica. Yes, I know this comparison may be unfair, the term is a somewhat obscure, fairly new (coined in 2000 the article says) technical term, and the WP excels at this sort of thing.

Then there followed another, non technology, example. Britannica just sent out a set of topic articles, constructed from BT entries. One was about Ann Hathaway, Shakespeare's wife. Exactly 303 words long. I am a Shakespeare buff, and know there is relatively little known about her except her family ties. No technology here. Then I looked Hathaway up in the WP. Much longer article there, lots of links to recent related books and articles, including Germaine Greer's 2007 book: Shakespeare's Wife. By my non-historian analysis, a similar level of credibility about the few known and and some inferred facts. Nothing controversial I could see, writing clarity good. So there too, the WP won in overall value to someone that wants a credible but detailed overview.

Once more, though, I don't want a winner, I want competing resources.

No comments: