Thursday, December 15, 2005

Former SJSU professor goes through Wiki Hell

On the Internet trust is becoming a rarer and a more valuable commodity. One of our university's greatest losses, in my opinion, was the loss of alpha professor Dennis Dunleavy to Southern Oregon University. Dunleavy is an extreamly talented guy and I still follow his blog and I sorely miss our conversations. In a recent post [Link] professor Dunleavy explains how he was demonstrating different technologies to some colleagues when he decided to show them what a Wiki looks like. They got a look they are likely never to forget. According to Dunleavy:

After talking a little about Wikipedia's credibility issue and the Seignethaler situation, I went online and clicked on a link to a featured article at the top of the homepage. The article was a biography about the actress KaDee Strickland. As I talked and navigated through the site I innocently clicked on Strickland's name in the featured column. What appeared in front of us -- on the big screen -- was not the actress. What came up on the screen was a close up image of a significant part of the male reproduction system.

This is a big danger in using Wikis, or really any other on-line media. The Wiki (or any Website) can be "hacked" or in an otherwise defaced state just at the moment you go to them. It is especially easy for people to deface Wikis. Even if it is even easier for the Wiki community to fix a defaced Wiki page you have to know that the ability to absolutely trust that the content you want will be available , and be presentable, in real time is not there. It is not just Wikis that are vulnerable. Websites are defaced all the time by miscreants people call hackers. If you really, really need to trust that what you want will be there and will be suitable for public view at exactly the moment you need it. You cannot.

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