The Wikipedia Weekly interview with Jimmy Wales turned to a topic dear to my heart: the role of Neutral Point of View in collaboration. Wales explicitly articulated – in minute 33 – one of the main themes of my work:
31 Wales: The idea that we should focus on the facts of reality, something I very much believe in, on the other hand, much of Wikipedia tends to focus on which facts of reality, and they tend to be about facts about what other people said. In other words, we are looking for reliable sources and things like that.
32 Wales: Outsources truth? I kind of like that. There’s something, a thing that is sometimes said, and I don’t care much for it, which is “verifiability not truth.” And, the problem I have with that, is that it sort of suggests that we don’t care about the truth. We only care about some artificial game of verifiability. What I would say is that we care about verifiability and truth. In other words, the verifiable truth. Things that people with very divergent views can look at and agree. We may not agree with what happened that day, but we can certainly agree on what the New York Times said about it. That is a lot easier to agree on. And it’s not that we don’t care what the truth is, but we care to write down the truths that we all can agree on.
33 Wales: The whole concept of Neutral Point of View, as I originally envisioned it, was this idea of a social concept, for helping people get along: to avoid or sidestep a lot of philosophical debates. Someone who believes that that truth is socially constructed, and somebody who believes that truth is a correspondence to the facts in reality, they can still work together.