Thursday, December 09, 2004

An AP article carried on CNN presents the usual sky-is-falling problem of students blindly accepting information on the Internet. It takes a sideways swipe at Wikipedia -- "The credentials of the people writing grass-roots Web journals and a committee-written encyclopedia called Wikipedia are often unclear." -- but allows that, maybe, multiple reviewers and points of view just might be useful.

The article's kicker is a quote by Paul Saffo, director of the Institute for the Future:
Referring to the 1903 Western "The Great Train Robbery," Saffo said audience members "actually ducked when the train came out on the screen. Today you won't even raise an eyebrow."
It's hard to know if the mistake is Saffo's or the unnamed AP reporter, but the movie that featured a training hurtling toward the audience was 1895's L'Arrivée d'un train à la Ciotat, directed by the legendary Lumière brothers. ("The Great Train Robbery" did feature an outlaw firing a gun directly at the audience.)

In any case, this story of panicked audiences seems to be a myth, according to this article from the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television.

It seems that you just can't trust everything you read on the Internet.