The hidden joys of Wikipedia

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I admit it. I'm a junkie. I've become addicted to Wikipedia.

For the uninitiated, Wikipedia is an Internet encyclopedia with content supplied by everyday users of the World Wide Web. It costs nothing to access the site, quickly making it a unique one-stop source for information. The site is available in 10 languages.

Truthfully, if something pops into my head that I'd like to know more about, I visit Wikipedia.

For example:

I'm a big fan of the horror author Stephen King. Type his name into the Wikipedia search engine and it brings up King's life story, writing style, along with a list of his complete works (all hyper linked so you can quickly jump to those independent works and view the plot, characters and themes of each), influences, collaborations, and trivial tidbits about the man himself.

Want to know a little more about Christmas? Type it in and Wikipedia brings up the entire history of the holiday, along with user submitted photos and scans of illustrations exemplifying the holiday season.

Greenville even has its own little corner of Wikipedia all to itself. It lists our longitude and latitude, along with a brief history of the city and comments about the architecture of downtown Greenville along with demographical information obtained from the 2000 census. You can jump and view a capsule history of Butler County as well as McKenzie and Georgiana. The Georgiana page notes that Hank Williams was born there and you can click on his name and view the country music legend's complete biography on Wikipedia.

Anyway, check it out. You may become an addict to.

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Five murdered prostitutes have turned up in Ipswitch, England, and news media have jumped at the chance to label the yet unknown suspect as the new &#8220Jack the Ripper.” The unsolved case of Jack the Ripper (yes, I got most of the stuff I'm about to write next from Wikipedia) was the first serial killer case to cause a worldwide frenzy of morbid fascination. Some believe newspapermen concocted the &#8220Ripper” name to sale more papers. A newspaper? Sensationalize? Perish the thought!

Interestingly enough, the Ripper's 1888 mayhem did cause the public to focus more on poverty and the impoverished than they had in the past, considering the killer did much of his work in the slums of London. This led author George Bernard Shaw to comment about the sudden interest in the poor with the following:

&#8220Whilst we Social Democrats were wasting our time on education, agitation and organization, some independent genius has taken the matter in hand, and by simply murdering and disemboweling four women, converted the proprietary press to an inept sort of communism.”

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TV Land should be applauded.

&#8220Star Trek” is back on television, nightly at 11 p.m.

I was never one of those mindlessly obsessive Trekkie's, but I remember re-runs of this program fondly. Sure, the special effects are a little corny in this age of digitalized disasters, but Spock, Kirk, Bones, Scotty and the U.S.S. Enterprise are still timeless.

Live long. And prosper.

Kevin Pearcey is Group Managing Editor of Greenville Newspapers, LLC. He can be reached by phone at 383-9302, ext. 136 or by email at: