Wikiality – Part III

Bit of an elaboration on a previous post on the use of Wikipedia in judgements. I cited part of a New York Times article, which had in turn quoted from a letter to the editor from Professor Kenneth Ryesky. The portion cited by the NYT article suggested that Ryesky was quite opposed to the idea, which wasn’t really the case. He was kind enough to exchange some thoughts via e-mail:

In his New York Times article of 29 January 2007, Noam Cohen quoted a sentence (the last sentence) from my Letter to the Editor published in the New York Law Journal on 18 January 2007. You obviously read Mr. Cohen’s article, but it is not clear whether you read the original Letter to the Editor from which the sentence was quoted.

Which exemplifies the point that Wikipedia, for all of its usefulness, is not a primary source of information, and therefore should be used with great care in the judicial process, just as Mr. Cohen’s article was not a primary source of information.

Contrary to the impression you may have gotten from Mr. Cohen’s New York Times article of 29 January, I am not per se against the use of Wikipedia. For the record, I myself have occasion to make use of it in my research (though I almost always go and find the primary sources to which Wikipedia directs me), and find it to be a valuable tool. But in research, as in any other activity, one must use the appropriate tool for the job; using a sledge hammer to tighten a little screw on the motherboard of my computer just won’t work.

Wikipedia and its equivalents present challenges to the legal system. I am quite confident that, after some trial and error, the legal system will acclimate itself to Wikipedia, just as it has to other text and information media innovations over the past quarter-century.

Needless to say, quite a different tone than the excerpt in the NYT article. Thanks for the clarification, Professor Ryesky.

A Public Private Stock Market

This is pretty neat. The Genesis Exchange calls itself a “private equity exchange”. Sort of like a platform where private companies can issue securities, and investors can buy them, presumably under applicable registration and prospectus exemption rules. That being said, it seems to be less a trading platform than it is an introduction and screening system of sorts. Companies who want to raise funds complete a profile through which their “Genesis Score” is calculated. Angel investors then set a minimum score and only receive info about companies with scores above that.

Not necessarily a new concept (other than perhaps the Genesis Score) but of course could be useful nonetheless. That being said, I’m not necessarily sure how well this score thing would work – I mean, it certainly could, but I have my doubts about whether any model can simply boil a business down to number that is used to screen – if that were the case, then you’d likely see a lot of VCs exiting the industry fairly quickly.

Certainly worthwhile investigating, though of course anyone looking for private equity dollars should also of course look into things like the Toronto Venture Group (as well as the Toronto Angel Group) which try to do the same thing in meatspace and without a one number score…