Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Someone make me a database, please

By now you've made up your mind about Wikipedia; you either use it to justify your pretensions about technology, or perhaps bemoan the fate of how we view academic information. Or, hopefully, you'll actually have a real opinion about it; perhaps something like "I have issues with its infrastructure and can't take it as seriously as some people do, but generally, I'd say it's a commendable success, especially when dealing with the online world."

Intelligent and educated discussion doesn't occur often outside of certain settings, and it certainly doesn't occur very often with certain topics (games are one obvious example). One thing that I've seen in some corners of games writing is the desire to cover new ground, new territory, to say what's not been said before. That feels to me a lot more like academia than it does the simple blogosphere or world of journalistic outlets, which are mainly simply there (and this isn't a criticism) to enlighten and entertain.

And is it just me, or do you ever worry about being accused of plagiarism, even when you're just writing on a forum? On the Internet, someone probably already said it. And if you're going to participate in discussions or write op-ed pieces or columns, wouldn't you want to make sure you say something original? I've occasionally come across comments that say "oh, someone already said this" or even "this point was also made in this other article that had a different topic."

So, I've got an idea and I'm guessing no one else has done it yet. What if there were a site that had listings of all relevant content on a particular topic?

Let's take Braid again. Much material has surfaced on it; in fact, one forum post in particular has generated much discussion on it but it doesn't seem that it is well-spread in news outlets. It was such a convincing theory, though, that it quickly surfaced on the Penny Arcade epi-thread and it prompted a question by Destructoid to Jonathan Blow in their podcast with him. He spent minutes commenting on it.

I'm aware that much of what is produced in popular periodicals is repeated; it disappoints, but it's not changing anytime soon. But what if there were a type of wiki where, for a given topic (say Braid), I could see all material that has even been said on it, serious or no, intelligent or no. All memes, videos, graphics, music, sites and written text on it. It could be in roughly this kind of format and instead of simply being a summary, an encyclopedia where everyone argues over what the best summary is, it could be a gathering of all relevant links and works on the topic. Write one or two lines summarizing the link.

Wouldn't it be awesome to have a site where every single review, metacritic or no, and every single thing ever on a game (say, Metal Gear Solid 4, this time) was listed? Updated continually? Some games get an enormous amount of coverage (say, Too Human), yet if someone's interested in knowing everything that went down and wants to know a lot of the commentary, he'd have to have awesome search engine skills.

Blogs and publications do this with "tags", but that only gives you all the information done by a particular publication. And some places don't have tags. And some places don't write about games very often, but have interesting or amusing material about a certain game or type of game.

I can only hope. And meanwhile, if I want to do it on any other particular topic, I'll have to do it myself. When I do, I'll post it here. And to Simon Carless and Neuroanthropology, thanks for sifting through gobs and gobs of links and presenting us with good and intelligent ones. Much appreciated.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home