- Gavan Reilly - http://gavreilly.com -

Wikipedia’s Secret Weapon

Watching the opening night of Celebrity Big Brother tonight, I kept an eye on the relevant Wikipedia entry, and specifically the Contestants section.

When Wikipedia first became famous, and the battles raged over whether it would ever succeed Encyclopedia Brittanica – or god forbid, Encarta! – in terms of moral standing and infallability, one of things that led me to argue for Wikipedia was its far superior grasp of pop culture, niche interests, and modern media. Quite simply, you’re not likely to find an article like this [1] in Britannica anytime soon – and if you’re looking for details of the next Futurama movie, you’re basically going to be gutted.

What becomes even more unique is when you watch a major international event on Wikipedia. Tom Raftery [2] tells a story about how he was surfing Wikipedia while listening to RTE Radio 1 when the appointment of the new Pope was announced in 2005. Hearing the name ‘Ratzinger’ live from the Vatican, and recognising the name, he went to the Wikipedia entry for Joseph Ratzinger, and saw it changed already – as quickly as an RTE hack could translate it – to that of Pope Benedict XVI.

Well, mix the pop culture abilities, and the live nature, and you a potently hilarious mixture. I won’t try to commentate on them, but while the contestants were entering the house, all of the following were visible on live updates of the show’s Wikipedia entry [3]:

Paul Michael Glaser
Star of the 1970’s show Starsky & Hutch

The person who’s about 1ft tall
A well known American rapper, Part of the MTV Rappers and whites special edition.


Ian Roper
Tarzan-like Luton Town centre-back. Lovely bloke.

The entire supporting cast of the film Good Will Hunting
Works in Mcdonalds on the Old Kent Road, thinks he’s Batman and often barks when nervous

Verne Troyer
It Is Obvious, Hes Going To Win.

Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses

Ronald McDonald
Wears white makeup

Arsene Wenger
Can’t take the pace with Arsenal so has legged it in here with the weirdo’s

Z Listers Big Brother 2009 is the sixth series … The programme is jam packed with Z Listers, people who thinks that they are famous but no body has really heard of them, they think they can be ‘famous’ again.

Phill from eastenders
Bald man.

[under Lucy Pinder]

And my personal favourite, briefly filed under Lucy Pinder’s heading:

She would get my best efforts!

Now let’s see Encyclopedia Brittanica cover that.