Wednesday, July 09, 2008

In Popular Culture

Who invented the inflatable sex doll? Why would I even wonder about this? I was reading Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk and got to the part where one character claimed that Adolf Hitler invented the blow-up sex doll. Of course I was skeptical. It's not that the author would lie to me, but Snuff is a work of fiction and the character making the claim was a bit deceitful.

So off to Wikipedia I go. I find this entry about sex dolls, and skim the article for info on an inventor, but find nothing... except near the bottom in the "In Popular Culture" section where they mention Snuff. How funny, but also kind of useless. It told me nothing about the veracity of the passage.

And that's the funny thing about Wikipedia, the Internet's Democratic encyclopedia. The "In Popular Culture" section can be interesting. It can provide inspiration. It can gauge what the online public really cares about. It can be useless.

The above web comic summed up the encyclopedia's controversy, and at the same time started its own controversy. (Who would have thought that Internet geeks could take a joke too far?)

However, let's keep in mind that Wikipedia isn't constructed by elitist academics. It's open for the public to edit. Nobody should be surprised that a lot of our knowledge is based on pop culture. Wikipedia gives us a place in a nice little section to write it all down endlessly.

Maybe the Wikipedia webmasters could allow readers to hide the "In Popular Culture" section if so desired.

However, the section doesn't bother me. Mostly I find Wikipedia helpful, but not this time. I still needed an answer about the sex dolls. So off to Google I go. I find this page which thoroughly answers my question.

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