Posted by: Kevin | December 19, 2006

Wikipedia = Crack for Nerds

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Holy Shit I’m a Loser! 

Raise your hand if you’ve done this.  I often go online to look for something and then spent hours going off on some tangent.  After several hours of informative, but completely beside the point, reading, I’ve realized that I hadn’t learned a damn thing about the subject I was looking for in the first place.  If you’re hand isn’t raised right now, go back to looking for dirty profile pictures on MySpace or waiting for the next release of pictures from the Suicide Girls.  I won’t judge.

The absolute worst site for this is Wikipedia, the free, everyone can update, encyclopedia.  While it is no substitute for real research, it is an excellent first stop if you’re trying to learn more about something.  It is very accurate as long as you stay away from some of the current events stuff and politics (too many ax-grinders).  I use it most often when I see a particularly objectionable comment on a political blog.  I like to have my facts straight before I respond. 

What makes this site so good/evil is the ease of navigation.  Looking up an important 20th century date?  You’ll find the date, and links to several other important dates, and countless related events, and articles describing those dates in greater detail, and, and, and, etc.  If you’re already looking for ways to procrastinate (Cough.  Cough.  Blogging.  Cough.), then wikipedia will enable virtually infinite procrastination.  Because once you find the info you’re looking for there’s a whole bunch of links that look much more interesting than getting back to work.

What’s really amazing about wikipedia is that something so potentially devastating to workplace productivity is also so work safe.  It’s an encyclopedia for God sakes.  Depending on your job there are countless reasons to be reading an encyclopedia article.  It has current events.  It contains links to source data.  It’s so damn useful, and so damn addictive. 

Author’s Note:  For some reason two and half hours of wikipedia research were required to write this post.

Author’s Other Note:  I’m aware that no one needs me to pimp Wikipedia, please regard this posting as a blatant example of the procrastination alluded to above.

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