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Did you know that according to their Wikipedia biography entries, Senators Edward Kennedy and Robert Byrd both died on January, 20, 2009? In reality, neither Senator died on that date. Robert Byrd is still very much alive and Edward Kennedy lived through August of last year. In a few short years, Wikipedia has come to dominate the field of easy-to-access information on just about any topic. Due to prominent placing in search engine results, the first stop for biographical information is often Wikipedia. Since Wikipedia entries are user-generated, errors and blatant smear campaigns are commonplace. Political hopefuls now carefully craft and continually monitor their web presence including their Wikipedia biographies. Scholars can be found on Wikipedia waging epic, never-ending battles of edits over contentious biographical points.
In this presentation I propose to examine the role of the Wikipedia biography in popular culture. How has Wikipedia affected the political landscape? How have Wikipedia editing guidelines evolved as a result of problems with high-profile biographies? What does the rise of Wikipedia mean for traditional sources of biographical information? My presentation will include real-time analysis of Wikipedia entries as well as some short video clips.