I read this article from The New Yorker.
In it, Author Philip Roth (The Human Stain) writes an open letter to Wikipedia about the silliness that can ensue when you try to change a page on Wikipedia. You see, there was an error on The Human Stain‘s Wikipedia page, one that Roth wanted to correct. A claim based purely on rumor erroneously explained that Roth was inspired to write his novel by ‘the life of Anatole Broyard’.
Roth disagreed. He says he was inspired by his friend, a Professor of Sociology at Princeton, Melvin Tumin.
And he should know, shouldn’t he? I mean, he’s only the author of the book. Unfortunately, at the time, Wikipedia would not allow the change to go through. From The New Yorker Article: ‘I understand your point that the author is the greatest authority on their own work,” writes the Wikipedia Administrator—“but we require secondary sources.”’
Now, of course, there is a section on The Human Stain‘s page dedicated to this ‘controversy’.
Wikipedia is Weird
I wrote this because I just finished reading Andy Weir’s The Martian (Go read it. Or go listen to the audiobook. Both are excellent).
The Martian is a book inspired by the life of Anatole Broyard (joke). The Martian is Andy Weir’s first novel, and it’s so damn good that they’re going to make a movie out of it. Excuse me, Ridley Scott is going to make a movie out of it, starring Matt Damon.
Yet poor Mr. Weir doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page yet. So I started writing one for him (Approval Pending), for four reasons:
- The Martian is my favorite science fiction book I’ve read all year.
- ALL. YEAR.
- I hope someone will do the same for me, when the time comes. I think it’s an honor to have your own Wikipedia page.
- I can’t resist the temptation of a blank page.
On that last note, don’t trust anything you read about Andy Weir for the next several hours (Wikipedia is great at handling people like me).
Before you go, I have a gift! Here is the Character Building Excercise:
Go forth and edit or create a new page on Wikipedia for a person (It can be you, a friend’s, a famous person’s, whatever). Start with their early life, and write out some of the most important events in their life. What did they do? How did they act/react? See where it takes you!
As always, follow, like, and please comment below!