I knew when Herr Graff suggested in the city of Woodward and Bernstein that we use wikiscanner to snoop on various Internet cover-ups lurking out in ever-nearer cyberspace that we were in for some exciting times. Remember, this class meets within several stone-throws of the Watergate complex, so the very air we breathe as a class clouds our collective synapses with the wiry webs of sticky conspiracies.
Armed with moral and over-thought courage I ran to the computer and began twirling the wiki-scanner through its paces. Ahoy Hoyas! It was not 20 minutes before I found the most insidious, deceptive, twisted and totally repugnant cover-up on the Internet. It is so disgusting I still have not been able to eat lunch.
Here is what happened. I will make every effort to preserve the sense of drama.
I was curious what Wikipedia would say about Bitburg, Germany, a place where I lived somewhat earlier in life. So I went to the Bitburg page. It has a lot of stuff – pretty reliable, it seems. (If you really want the goods, you can go to the highly-regarded German Wikipedia and you’ll get about 20 articles from a ‘Bitburg’ search. I was really impressed with the English Bitburg Air Base article. Very nice).
What kind of cover-up could be going on with an article about a German town and an American Air Base? You just watch!
Curious to see who could be spinning what around little Bitburg’s history, I jumped over to Wikiscanners’ coverage of the ‘Bitburg’ edits (on the English side).
The first thing my eyes fell on was an entry made on DOD computers – Dod Dependents Schools-European Region (-, -) – – AHA! I KNEW the government was up to something dirty in poor little Bitburg! And they were using the schools as a cover! What did they edit? Quick!
It did not take much sleuthing to uncover the deed – These words were snuck into the article – probably at night:
“I LIVE IN BITBURG… YAY ME”
What duplicity! — Wait! Could this be a legitimate historical edit? I pondered the whole philosophical universe of questions swirling around Wikipedia, truth, historicity, significance.
An amazing thing happened. I concluded this was a genuine, historically accurate and viable edit. This actually ranks high in historical existential utterances, in my opinion. If Descartes could be world-renowned for uttering “I think, therefore I am,” this gem of modern thought could not be far behind!
I suddenly became a huge fan of Wikipedia. What major encyclopedia would dare put up such a revolutionary statement?
“I live in Bitburg, yay me!” became my rallying cry.
I suddenly felt a deep appreciation for that DOD Dependents Schools computer which enabled a freethinker to post true history.
As I continued my investigation my world was turned on its head. Through Wikiscanner’s magic I discovered the edit had been removed immediately – only mere seconds after it was posted – by something called the ‘anitvandalbot.’ I mean only SECONDS!
I couldn’t believe it! Now DoD schools are my hero and Wikipedia bots are the scum! What is Wikipedia afraid of?
I searched on. Another post came up, only a few minutes later, from the same source:
“Bitburg Middle Schoolers unite”
Pure courage! And now I knew the source of our existential historians! The revered Middle School. I should have guessed.
But wait! The antivandalbot struck again, within microseconds, and deleted that magnificent defiance even as it had tried to erase the previous glowing record of true history.
I was disgusted, not with DOD as I originally supposed I would be, but by the Wikipedia-Gestapo. Things are not what they seem in cyber-democracy. Even there lives the heavy-handed control-monster.
But, guess what? That little moment of true inspiration lives on in the revision history pages deep in the bowels of the Wikipedia behemoth. Now, thanks to Wikiscanner and this humble blog, that sublime truth will live forever!
From one of the antivandalbot pages – if you still have any doubts about the intent!
“Bitburg Middle Schoolers unite!”