Sunday, May 17, 2009

Being the first

Wikipedia provides articles which are supposed to be neutral point of view. It's always funny to look at who was the first inventor of an object in the different wikipedias. One could think they are all equivalent in the content, and are just translations of each-other. It seems national pride of different points of view can easily sneak in.

For example, about a plane, in English you learn that
The first self-powered aircraft was created by an Englishman by the name of John Stringfellow while in French, you learn that Le premier homme ayant déclaré avoir volé à l'aide d'un moteur est le français Clément Ader. So in English, the first one was an Englishman who created the first model plane, while in French, it is a Frenchman who created the first plane with someone inside.

Reading about the motorcycle is also interesting. In English the first motorcycle was designed and built by the German inventors Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach (in 18885), while in French, after some warnings about the difficulty of defining who was the inventor, you learn about the délivrance [...] le 16 mars 1869 à Monsieur Louis-Guillaume Perreaux.

Concerning the cinema, both the English and French versions emphasize on the impossibility of clearly define an inventor. Nevertheless, for those who want a name you find that In 1878, [...] Eadweard Muybridge successfully photographed a horse named "Sallie Gardner" in fast motion using a series of 24 stereoscopic cameras and that certains ont attribué son invention aux frères Lumière, concepteurs du cinématographe en 1895.

For sure, reading in more languages will bring even more interesting point of views. As most of the objects have never suddenly been invented, but slowly evolved, it is rather easy to define the inventor of it has the first citizen having made it evolve. None of the articles is wrong, just slightly biased. So when reading an article it is worthy to have a glance at the other versions just to see how far it can be biased...

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