I recently read an excellent article by Caitlin Dewey of the Washington Post from last month entitled “You probably haven’t even noticed Google’s sketchy quest to control the world’s knowledge”.
In the article, Dewey points out that “people’s ability to verify information….is something I think we really need to study and process as a society.”
Link decay and lack of digital provenance is a real issue following Google’s introduction of ‘Knowledge Panels’ and one which Wikidata, as an open-license, machine-readable knowledge base, seeks to correct.
Indeed “the primary issue with Google’s knowledge panels is that they aren’t terribly knowledgeable: They provide information but often leave out any context on where that information came from.”
That being said here are some unattributed facts gleaned from Google searches about the teams competing in Euro 2016 beginning tomorrow (in order of their FIFA ranking)…. with no possibility of their accuracy being verified as a result. Thanks goodness for Wikipedia!
Citation Needed – “Facts” about teams competing in Euro 2016.
Belgium – produces the greatest variety of bricks in the world. The word “gas” was proposed by Flemish chemist Jan Baptist van Helmont (1577-1644) as a phonetic spelling of his Dutch pronunciation of the Greek word “chaos”.
Germany – In Germany, the soft drink, Fanta, is actually the star ingredient of a popular dessert called Fantakuchen. Which translates to Fanta cake.
Spain – The official name of Spain is the “Kingdom of Spain.” Spain has also given the world the mop and bucket.
Portugal – The largest producer of cork products in the world.
England – In 1886, Sarah Ann Henley threw herself off Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge after a row with her boyfriend, falling 75 metres on to the mud bank below. She was saved by her billowing crinoline petticoats, which helped to slow her fall, and lived on into her eighties. The last ‘witches’ to be hanged in Britain were three women from Bideford in Devon, in 1682. There was no evidence against them, but other villages accused them of sending the devil to their enemies’ houses, in the form of a magpie and a tabby cat.
Austria – The Austrian flag is one of the oldest national flag in the world. It dates from 1191, when Duke Leopold V fought in the Battle of Acre during the Third Crusade. The Austrian funeral industry is said to be largest per capita in Europe.
Turkey – One way of protecting a newborn baby in Turkey is the placing of a tortoise under a baby’s pillow at night. It is believed the tortoise will protect the child. Turkey is also the largest grower of hazelnuts in the world; responsible for 80% of the world’s hazelnut exports.
Switzerland – in 2007, Switzerland accidentally invaded its neighbor Liechtenstein. Switzerland’s Anti-PowerPoint Party, or APPP, actually works to decrease the number of PowerPoints used in professional presentation, claiming that Microsoft PowerPoint and its other software products are actually economically harmful. The goal of the APPP is to be the fourth largest political party in Switzerland, and their motto is “Finally do something!” Nicknamed the King of the Alps, Ulrich Inderbinen climbed the Matterhorn a staggering 370 times, the last at age 90. The Zermatt-born mountaineer was the oldest active mountain guide in the world when he retired at age 94.
Italy – In 1454, a real human chess game took place in Marostica, Italy. Rather than fight a bloody duel, the winner of the chess game would win the hand of a beautiful girl. To commemorate the event, each September in even-numbered years, the town’s main piazza becomes a life-sized chess board.
Hungary – Mangalitsa pigs are a unique breed of pig that resemble sheep as much as pigs and are a little known Hungarian breed. They are the result of a 19th century Austro-Hungarian experiment breeding wild boar with a pig bred especially for lard. Called the Kobe Beef of pork, they are prized for their well-marbled meat. There are 60,000 Mangalitsas worldwide, with 50,000 being in Hungary.
Romania – Romania has the largest bear population in Europe (with about 60% in Transylvania)
France – In 1386, a pig was hung in France for the murder of a child. There is only one stop sign in the entire French city of Paris. French President Charles de Gaulle is included in the Guinness Book of World Records as surviving more assassination attempts—32—than anyone in the world.
Ukraine – Ukraine is one of the largest grain exporters in the world. Commas are used as decimal points instead of periods.
Croatia – Ivan Vucetic, criminologist and anthropologist, was born on the island of Hvar and was the pioneer of scientific dactyloscopy (identification by fingerprints), and his methods of identification are used worldwide.
Wales also known as Cymru – is part of the United Kingdom and well-known for its rich history and culture. Famous people from Wales include Richard Burton, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Tom Jones, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Shirley Bassey, Timothy Dalton and Charlotte Church.
Northern Ireland – Belfast Zoo is home to the only group of purple-faced langurs in Europe.
Poland – In Poland, bananas are peeled from the blossom end not the stem end.
Russia – Russians love cloakrooms – don’t expect to get very far without being asked to put your coat and/or bag in a cloakroom. The best are efficiently run by teams of baboushkas. It’s considered wimpy to lower the ear flaps on your Ushanka (fur hat) unless the temperature drops below -20C. Mikhail Gorbachev recorded an album of romantic ballads. Putin has a judo DVD.
Czech Republic – They don’t go in for turkey in the Czech Republic. During Christmas they eat carp. Usually bought a few days before and left swimming in the bath to keep fresh for the big day.
Ireland – Ireland’s most famous musical export is U2.
Slovakia – is not only a member of the European Union but also belongs to the Eurozone countries. In 2009, the Slovak Koruna (SKK) was retired from circulation after 16 years of using and replaced by a new currency – Euro (EUR).
Sweden – As of 2004 you can pay your Swedish taxes by sending an SMS message from your cell phone. All employers (as of 2004) are required to provide free massage. In Sweden IKEA is a cheap store, not a trendy store.
Albania – King Zog of Albania (ruled 1928-39) was the only national leader in modern times to return fire during an assassination attempt.
Fun facts… but without any digital provenance, how can one know any of them are true?
Current Wiki Projects – tidying up source metadata, creating consistent citations and signalling Open Access sources.