Wikipedia Rests On Trust, Bitcoins or Money Pretend To.

Want to know something, someplace, someone; just Google for an answer. One of the resources that gets consistently high ranking on Google search is of course Wikipedia. Wikipedia is turning into virtually a complete catalogue of human knowledge. Far more people rely on it for information and use its authority to found their arguments than probably any other resource on world wide web, or elsewhere. Wikipedia is a bewilderingly superb example of what non-hierarchical, democratic, consensual, self regulating, randomised, and voluntary collaborative effort can achieve. Its reputation is well deserved thanks to its system of continuous peer review of the content posted by literally an army of countless volunteers. Needless to say that it is unlike an army of men but more like of ants, who all instinctively work towards a higher purpose; where individual efforts may look uneconomic, but the collaborative effort is very effective. Yet it is not infallible. Most of its content unmistakably, almost unconsciously, tows the dominant narrative, though references may be had to alternate narratives. Such bias is unavoidable as it synthesises the “collective knowledge” as well as the “collective bias”. Though Wikipedia aims for inclusion of as many languages as possible, its content is currently overwhelmed by English, and English speaking volunteers. This introduces a second major unavoidable bias that springs from  cultural, political, economic, and existential realities in which its volunteers are grounded. However, the system is vulnerable to “conscious” and intentional attacks too. Andrew Leonard shows here how bad the conscious mutilation of wiki-pages can get.
In the wee hours of the morning of January 27, 2013, a Wikipedia editor named “Qworty” made a series of 14 separate edits to the Wikipedia page for the late writer Barry Hannah, a well-regarded Southern writer with a taste for the Gothic and absurd… Two edits stand out. Qworty excised the phrase “and was regarded as a good mentor” from a sentence that started: “Hannah taught creative writing for 28 years at the University of Mississippi, where he was director of its M.F.A. program …” And he changed the cause of Hannah’s death from “natural causes” to “alcoholism.”… But two weeks after my story was published, a group of Wikipedia editors affiliated with the Wikipedia criticism site Wikipediocracy approached me. After weeks of research, these editors were convinced that they had identified Qworty as a novelist who had long been surreptitiously editing his own Wikipedia page — and was guilty of his own multiple instances of self-puffery. Not only was Qworty guilty of revenge editing, they argued, but he was also a raging hypocrite! A conflict-of-interest cop who had initially created a Wikipedia account for the sole purpose of pursuing his own self-interest. The writer they identified is Robert Clark Young, author of the 1999 novel “One of the Guys.” After reviewing their research and doing some of my own reporting, I thought there was enough evidence to go on to pursue the story“. It is a longish article on how the anonymous Wikipedia editor -“Qworty’s” identity was tracked until it merged with a real person, and of his “crimes” that cannot be put down to safely ignored peccadilloes. It is worth following to know how an individual’s pride and prejudice can seriously dent the reputation of a noble project like Wikipedia merely because of “collateral damage” caused in not so “friendly fire”.

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“I care not what puppet  is placed on the throne of England to rule the Empire. The  man who controls Britain’s money supply controls the  British Empire and I control the British money supply.”
“Give me the control of the credit of a nation, and I care  not who makes the laws.”
Nathaniel Meyer Rothschild, speaking to a group of  international bankers, 1912.
“The few who could understand  the system (cheque, money, credits) will either be so  interested in its profits, or so dependent on its favours,  that there will be no opposition from that class, while on  the other hand, the great body of people, mentally  incapable of comprehending the tremendous advantage that  capital derives from the system, will bear its burdens  without complaint, and perhaps without even suspecting that  the system is inimical to their interests.”
Contrary to the myth popularized by economists since the days of Adam Smith that Money rose as a convenience tool out of the difficult messiness of barter, the economic anthropologists like David Graeber -Debt: The First Five Thousand Years– have succeeded in showing that money is but a civil, sober and somewhat attractive avatar of violently ruthless debt enforcers, who without remorse collect what is owed at the threat of dispossessing debtor of victuals, honour or even life. Money signifies debt. Money is needed to square up the debt owed to the State on account of taxes. Debt predates money, and elaborate systems existed to record who owed whom how much since Sumerian time, whose cuneiform script is well deciphered. Same was the case in Pharaohnic times, whose hieroglyphic script is deciphered too, and presumably is the case even in the third ancient civilisation -Harappan-, whose script largely remains a mystery to date. Seen this way money was a way of “monetising” (a tautology?) debt, which apart from its eminent utility in temporal world also helped in “practically realising” the “moral obligations” of transcedental dimension.
The purely imaginary “cute” “little” stories talked of free barterers getting stuck because someone wanted to buy a buffalo the other had on “sale” but in “exchange” could offer only the two sows he possessed, while the latter needed 107 sacks of sugar. Most economic books offer such hilarious accounts of barter that run into predictable but imaginary trouble, before launching on to how money miraculously solved all the problems by acting as a versatile go between or an intermediary, who everyone trusted. The trouble is that such stories have never been corroborated by any evidence from anywhere around the world. Yet, the myth of money as “Medium of exchange”, “Unit of Measure”, and “Store of Value” grew steadily, and has now entrenched in popular imagination so deeply that it is impossible to see money otherwise. Be that as it may, power to issue money, especially in modern times, is monopolised in the hands of States or Central Bankers, who are not necessarily State owned, such as Federal Reserve of USA or Bank of England until 1946 when it was nationalised. Contrary to another popular belief, currency notes or coins form, that is physical manifestation of money, hardly a fraction of total money supply, majority of which resides in the ledgers of banks as book entries, or in today’s world as mere digital ghost entries. Only in times of crisis, when trust in banks is broken and there is a run on the banks to withdraw physical money, does this belief get busted as happened recently in Greece. Banks in such cases have to simply down the shutters and close business, because there can never be enough physical money to pay-out what credit balances in their ledgers show. Even if all the commercial banks and the central bank were to pool together their currency chests, the notes and coins would still be in severe short supply.
When even States or Central Banks issue money that has majorly ghost existence, why did the Department of Homeland Security of US seized a payment processing account belonging to Mt. Gox, the largest international Bitcoin trader? Russia TV attributed it to department’s claims that the monetary exchange service had falsified financial documents. It also simultaneously gave a Bitcoin software developer’s take on the developments, “But while banks and governments have treated the Bitcoin payment system as an “existential threat” to current financial system, Taaki argues that the virtual currency epitomizes real free trade and is a necessary tool to maximize the benefits of a free and open market“. Watch the RT news report.
The founder of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, describes Bitcoin as peer to peer electronic cash system, which allows irrevocable or non-reversible payments to be made for irrevocable or non-reversible goods or services received or to be received. Since transactions take place peer to peer directly, or can theoretically so take place, there is no role for intermediaries such as banks or payment gateways. Since Bitcoin payment once initiated cannot be revoked and gets deposited in receiver’s Wallet without fail; the usual “identification” protocol associated with payments through credit/ debit cards is totally dispensed with much like making payments in “cash”. Benefits are derived through minuscule or nil transaction costs. In theory all this is hunky dory, but at the moment Bitcoins are to be bought with fiat currency issued by States or Central bankers, and there are few establishments that offer goods or services against payment in Bitcoins. Forbes Staffer, Kasmir Hill, carried out an interesting experiment “Living On A Bitcoin For A Week“, which brought out practical difficulties of using Bitcoins quite succinctly. The “success” of Bitcoin is testimony to the novelty, and freedom it seems to offer from Establishment, alongside growing distrust of banks and governments since the 2008 financial crisis. The failure or the ultimate predictable failure of Bitcoin resides in the touching faith of its proponents that money is simply a medium of exchange, unit of  measure, and store of value that two or more consenting parties voluntarily use to facilitate an exchange. Money is seen as a physical or virtual manifestation of human concept and feeling called “trust”; and not as benign manifestation of “violent power” of enforcers to collect debt. That without trust money is worthless is only a superficial reality. The deeper reality is that without violence or threat of violence money is useless.
Reuters story on the topic contextualises the issues better. “Treasury’s anti-money laundering unit, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), in March issued guidance that dubbed digital currency exchanges money transmitters, a finding that obliged such businesses to register with FinCEN and obtain any mandated state licenses.
A search of FinCEN’s online registration database Friday morning suggested that neither Mt. Gox nor Mutum Sigillum had registered. The affidavit cited Mutum Sigillum’s failure to register with FinCEN as sufficient grounds to seize its accounts.
Both Mutum Sigillum and Mt. Gox, which says it handles 80 percent of Bitcoin trading, are owned by Mark Karpeles, the affidavit states. It adds that Karpeles opened an account in Mutum Sigillum’s name at Wells Fargo in May 2011, and that when doing so completed a form in which he said it was not a money transmitter“. The point is that authorities won’t tolerate a parallel power center, and they have the power of Statutory violence to back their diktats, which Bitcoin doesn’t have. 
PS: Geeks were drawn to Bitcoins because of the simple, public, and universally endorsed or at least endorsed by a majority of the universe, “time-stamp protocol” it uses, which creates an almost inviolate precedence sequence.  Acceptance and endorsement by tech savvy skyrocketed the popularity of Bitcoins, whereas the recent sovereign crisis in March in Cyprus and Greece fueled its “exchange value” skyward.
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One Response to “Wikipedia Rests On Trust, Bitcoins or Money Pretend To.”

  1. LgGestrude Says:

    Wikipedia’s anti-Pagan crusade A rogue editor targeted witches, warlocks and psychedelic scientists — and cast doubt on the site's judgment.Wikipedia not tamper proof.

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