Mad Scientist Virgil Griffiths Disruptive WikiScanner Creation

By Michael Dorausch, D.C.

A self proclaimed mad scientist and disruptive technologist is doing a hell of a job disrupting massive amounts of previously thought anonymous entries on Wikipedia, the anybody can edit online encyclopedia. We covered news on the WikiScanner yesterday, and the past 24 hours has brought forward a firestorm of information on hundreds of previously unconnected, juicy page edits.

Virgil Griffith WikiScanner - photo credit Jake AppelbaumWhy, you may ask, would this graduate student from Caltech throw a virtual can opener into what was thought by thousands to be a safely sealed can of worms, resulting in what may equate as massive egg on your face findings regarding corporations and organizations, when it comes to page edit histories on Wikipedia? You could say that Virgil has an appetite for disruption, a really mad, mad scientist kind of appetite.

Actually, it’s a bit simpler than that. What this young scientific graduate student wants, is pretty much what millions of others want. In all his disruptiveness, Virgil wants a link to his homepage.

Call him mad, call him disruptive, but Virgil is on a quest to be #1 in Google search for the query “virgil“, and this code hungry chiropractor is betting he’ll get there soon.

Besides being number one for the Virgil query on Google, Griffith says he created the wiki scanner to create minor public-relations disasters for companies and organizations he dislikes. He was also curious to see what “interesting organizations”, which he claims to be neutral towards, are up to in regards to wikipedia page edits. When it comes to security vulnerabilities, he also has a thirst for massive scale events and indexing of the information.

Maybe you’ve read the article from yesterday, or perhaps you’ve read about Virgil or the WikiScanner in other news reports. People are asking if we “really” know that these previously thought anonymous page edits came from executives or their lackeys. On Virgil’s scanner FAQ page he states that “Technically, we don’t know if it came from an agent of that company. However, we do know that edit came from someone with access to their network. If the edit occurred during working hours, then we can reasonably assume that the person is either an agent of that company or a guest that was allowed access to their network.”

Lists of blatant misinformation being injected into Wikipedia pages are rapidly beginning to appear online, since news of Virgil’s scanner broke just yesterday. He is staying away from that, but Wired Reddit has already set up a page that is as hot as an inferno.

Virgil is not saying that Wikipedia is evil. In fact, he suggests that Wikipedians are good people that don’t mind the light of day. Virgil feels that Wikipedia appears to work fine for non-controversial topics. For topics that border on the controversial, he feels the exposure of disinformation (via tools like the WikiScanner) on Wikipedia can help to make the online encyclopedia more reliable.

While this graduate student studies theoretical neurobiology and artificial life, in Southern California, many will be seeking out just who the bastard was that edited the Harry Potter page with an end of book spoiler, shortly after the release of “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.” We all have Virgil Griffith to thank for getting us closer to that answer.

* For those of you that may be wondering what in the world this has to do with chiropractic, you’ll understand better when you see our list of favorite anonymous page edits of terms we find near and dear to us. @ 10:14 pm | Article ID: 1187241300