Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Books of Wikipedia extracts

Blasphemy law in Pakistan: apostasy in Islam, Blasphemy, freedom of religion in Pakistan. Fredrick P. Miller, Agnes F.Vandome, John McBrewster USA: Alphascript. 2010.
It looks like a real book and, problem is, it still is a real book.

Even though we draw draw attention to the fact that according to the verso of the title page ​"All parts of this book are extracted from Wikipedia" does this mean that all of those parts are still on Wikipedia in 2014, four years later?   

What if more has been added since? What if some of the parts have been removed from Wikipedia, or edited in the meantime? Alphascript’s book becomes a capsule in time. Parts of it may be invaluable to the discussion of blasphemy law in Pakistan, if the laws have changed.

Then we have the problem of verifiability of information on Wikipedia itself. Is a book that is proudly Wikipedia through-and-through in fact a book we want on our shelves? Should a label be slapped on the front ‘User beware’?

The librarian faced with the choice of wanting to order this book has the dilemma too of this being about the only text directly on the subject. While she or he may be wary of ordering a Wikipedia-sourced book, it may have material that is nowhere else, not even any longer on Wikipedia.

Warnings about these scams (the word is more like opportunisms) have been expressed increasingly in recent years. Sometimes the publisher’s name is a giveaway, if it’s new, or has a small i as the first letter of the name.

The other sign is the cover. If the publisher uses the same image for most of its book covers then a rat is being detected. Scottish glens covered in heather, 18th century timepieces, and the Roman Colosseum are three favourites of these outfits. Alphascript seem to be aware that this is a giveaway, to scan some of their publications on Amazon. They appear to be lifting relevant images off the net. We find too that the authors Frederic P. Miller, Agnes F. Vandome, and John McBrewster have an encyclopedic knowledge across subjects that puts them way beyond the range of mere mortals.

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