Sunday, January 4, 2009

Notebook, Voodoopad, and Wikipedia

In June of last year I wrote about Will Duquette's Notebook, which was one of the earliest versions of a desktop wiki. I used it extensively between 2003 and 2005. Of late, its author seems to have turned towards more theological interests, and the development of the project has been very slow. Nothing wrong with that, since it is a freeware application.

There was a Wikipedia page on the Notebook. It was deleted on December 4, 2008 by some Jac16888. The stated reason is that 'No reliable secondary sources establish the notability of this application.' I think the reason should have stated as: "I was too lazy to look for reliable secondary sources establishing the notability of this application." Even if development of the application has slowed down (and may never pick up again), this was once a significant application. The page should have been kept for that reason alone.

On the other hand, one finds on the Personal wiki page of Wikipedia the claim that Voodoopad: "essentially invented the modern personal/desktop wikis," which is blatantly false (even though it is attributed to the developer of Voodoopad, Gus Mueller).

Mueller said in an interview dated September 2003 (when he was working on the beta of version 1.1) that he had probably started developing Voodoopad in January 2002. The Website says that VoodooPad 1.1 alpha 2 came out on May 11, 2003.

Notebook was already available in version 0.8 by June of 2002, and there was another application, named Wikit (also written in tcl/tk) available even before then. If I recall correctly, there were still other applications like it being developed in 2002 as well. Notepad was developed either earlier or roughly at the same time as Voodoopad. Therefore, the claim that it "essentially invented the modern personal/desktop wikis," is incorrect, quite apart from the fact that it is not at all clear what phrase "the modern personal/desktop wikis" is supposed to mean. "Modern" as opposed to "medieval," or "modern" as supposed "ancient" or "outdated." In either sense, the phrase makes not much sense.

This is not so much to cast aspersions at Voodoopad or its developer, but at the haphazard policies of "senior" contributors to Wikipedia and the way that history actively gets distorted in its pages by such arbitrary deletions.

Not that I have ever understood the hype that goes with Wikipedia anyway.

1 comment:

PALS said...

Thank you for raising this issue. I will try to add it into my wikipedia.org history and events articles.

Money Making and Blogging Website