Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Last Night a Wiki Saved My Life

Ever wonder how to erase old marks on a dry erase board? How to survive a ninja assault? How to become a nude art model? Well you're in luck, dear readers, because dollars to donuts there's a Wiki for you!

A Wha-ki you ask? (Okay, let's face it, you're only asking that question if you're old enough to have owned Duane Wayne flip glasses.) Well, Oldies, for you I'll explain it--or more precisely, I'll quote directly from their "what's a Wiki?" page: "wikiHow is a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest how-to manual. With your contributions, we can create a free resource that helps people by offering clear, concise solutions to the problems of everyday life." So one way to look at it is free advice from local yokels you wouldn't slow your car down to avoid splashing on the sidewalk. Another is dangerously unsourced material that could cause you great physical, mental and emotional distress. And what's so wonderful about this stuff is that real knowledge appears to be sprinkled in with fake information with no means of differentiating the two. Why it's just like watching a White House press briefing!

Take the "spotlight advice," How to Deal With Being in Prison, recently featured on Google's homepage. The first piece of wisdom offered made sense to me: "Do not cry, show fear, or a vulnerability publicly. Doing so will quickly make you a target for other prisoners." In fact, I applied that directly to my behavior at my place of employ and have been doing much better ever since, particularly around the seniors and retarded kids working the fry machine. But the second tenet seemed a wee bit racist: "Learn to play spades, chess, or hoops as it makes the time go by faster." I mean I don't want to call a spade a spade, but I think if this white girl tried to jump, she'd quickly become a target. And number 6 on the list absolutely flew in the face of everything I'd learned as a woman in NYC: "Do not become a 'punk' (girlfriend)... Punks are used and abused. They are traded away in card games and sold for cigarettes. It is not a path to long term survival in prison."

The Wiki also stacks relevant ads along the right hand side of the page, so while you're perusing the how to, you can also get pertinent info on where to buy a "prison ringtone" (which must sound something like, "Bend over, bitch!") or where to find the appropriate e-greeting:

(This is the front of a card with the greeting "You Betrayed Me")

Some of the advice offered is going to seem less immediately useful. Frankly learning how to prepare for a conjugal visit just seemed gratuitous to me -- I mean who doesn't know about the importance of flossing? Yet now that I do know how to make a shank out of a spoon and how to smuggle stuff in my rear, I do feel better prepared to handle the vicissitudes of daily life.

So I urge you all to check out some Wiki's for yourselves, and if you happen to be an expert on something, or, even if you haven't ever survived a ninja attack but still feel confident enough on the subject to share some tips, know that people will be grateful even if they become blissfully misinformed as a result. I mean hey, Fox News viewers have to look at something when they finally turn off the TV, right?


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