There has been a scandalous affair recently at the New Yorker that has had shaken the web (and more). One of their staff writers had just written a best-selling book about creativity and was forced to resign after he could not demonstrate the origin of some quotes he was attributing to Bob Dylan. He finally admitted that he invented them.
Funnily enough the book was about Imagination and Creativity. Don’t look for for it anywhere, it has been removed from all selling channels by the publisher (although more than 100,000 had been sold already).
More about this story if you are interested in this article on Jonah Lehrer’s deceptions (it seems to be written by the original person who uncovered the issue). More comments also in this excellent blog post on How to Resist the Temptation to Lie and Cheat your Way to the Top. There has been a flurry of posts and write-ups on the issue, so if you want even more just google Jonah Lehrer!
This is a good reminder than even the best-run fact checking factories like the New Yorker can fail to identify writers that fake it. The best curated content is not 100% mistake and lie-proof.
The Fourth Revolution brings in the validation from the crowd. And the crowd it is that uncovered that incredible falsification. It is not the first time, it won’t be the last time; but it becomes harder to fake it with the always greater insights of the crowd. This time it took a person passionate about Bob Dylan, knowing all his interviews and quotes, to figure out that something was wrong. It only took a few weeks.
And so will the world increasingly question the content of even the most reputable curators. This constant challenge by people who are extremely knowledgeable in their niche area will create increasingly better content to the world.
Funnily enough I had bought the book – it is on my Kindle – and will now read it knowing that for a book about creativity it must be really good as it is at least partially the result of the imagination of the author!