Monday, 26 January 2015

adage or open-source

Cunningham’s Law is seemingly one of those pithy, defeatist principles that have been named and carry aloft some sense of proprietorship and savoir, stating that the best way to solicit accurate information (in the Information Age) is by baiting one’s audience with the low-hanging fruit of patently false propositions.
Of course, certain types are better lured by certain honey-pots of howling inaccuracy and I doubt a lot of contentiousness and incivility stem from one wanting to get at an elusive truth and not a sturdy and well-buffeted opinion. Howard Cunningham, however, for whom the law is named is not just some rhetorician but the programmer, computer-scientist and Happy Days father who developed the user-editable platform known as the wiki. This potential for disabusing, edification and promulgation launched thousands of websites including of course Wikipedia, which has proved not only enlightening but also worth protecting. I’m sort of ambivalent about such proverbs—like Murphy’s Law (named for Candice Bergen) or the Sportscasters’ Curse, but I am sure that there’s a grain of truth to be uncovered behind them. Cunningham, at least through his creation that he gave away freely because he could not imagine anybody wanting to pay for something so basic but useful, and his law have become a grand social experiment with plenty of bait and bounty.