Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I have to admit it-- I often go to Wikipedia for information but I generally check the sources at the bottom of the page to either find more information or verify the information.
Early this month as part of a social experiment involving globalization, Irish student Shane Fitzgerald added a fake quote to the Wikipedia entry for composer Maurice Jarre.
Here's the quote, " One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head that only I can hear."
Jarre had just died. Quickly the quote was included in obituaries around the world - in major newspapers. Fitzgerald waited a few weeks before he reported that the quote was inaccurate. What surprised him was that it so quickly appeared in major print media. He had thought it might make blogs and websites. Corrections were printed in some papers and it was removed by Wikipedia but it remains out there uncorrected in printed and online form.
So why was this quote so quickly picked up and passed around? Here's my take. First, it's timing. The quote appeared right after the death. It was convenient and easy to find and use. Second, it was a great quote- the kind of quote you wish you had said if you had been a musician. Third, it's a great romantic notion that one will dance on to beautiful music in some ethereal space.
Fourth, we want to believe.