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Fact-checking the death of the open web
By Dave Winer on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 6:38 AM.

A picture named rip.gifThe NY Times Magazine has a short but interesting article by Virginia Heffernan entitled The Death of the Open Web. Titles like that make me cringe. Time to explain why. permalink

What does it mean? How could you fact-check such an assertion. Was the open web ever alive? If not, how could it possibly die?  permalink

If you think it was alive, how do you tell the difference between an alive "open web" and a dead one?  permalink

People have said, curiously, that all kinds of things that never lived are now dead. I'd love to ask one of the people to say exactly it means.  permalink

Even for things that no one disputes are alive, there are debates about when death occurs. Is it when the living being stops breathing? When its heart stops? When there's no sign of brain function? The problem with each of those tests is that there are people who would have failed such a test who come back to life, who think and speak, move and write.  permalink

But with things like the "open web" that are wholly figments of the imagination, that no one even has a good definition of, much less an idea of what it means for it to "live," how do you decide when it's dead? permalink

Bottom-line: Such statements are not verifiable, are meaningless. You couldn't fact-check it.  permalink

Reporters take such liberties, at a time when they must defend their value as the only objective fact-gatherers in our society. They even call themselves referees. But then they make up "facts" like this, and there's never anyone to ask a reporter, like you'd ask a politician, to defend an indefensible idea.  permalink

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