Column: off the record…, vol. 12-497

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off the record, from @U2

Almost three months after voting commenced for U22, U2.com is set to finally make official the results within the next few days. I hope the hype is worth it, but I'm bracing for the fan community's feedback. Regardless of the result, over 7,000 U2.com subscribers worldwide participated in the voting. Fan-picked, band-approved. Not too shabby.


The future of publishing appears to be upon us. Over the holidays, I was given An Unauthorized Guide To U2: An Overview Of The Band, edited by Juliette Hall "from high quality Wikipedia articles." The reason why this book intrigued me was because of what the back cover stated:

The role of the book within our culture is changing. The change is brought on by new ways to acquire & use content, the rapid dissemination of information and real-time peer collaboration on a global scale. Despite these changes one thing is clear – "the book" in it's (sic) traditional form continues to play an important role in learning and communication. The book you are holding in your hands utilizes the unique characteristics of the Internet – relying on web infrastructure and collaborative tools to share and use resources in keeping with the characteristics of the medium (user-created, defying control, etc.) – while maintaing (sic) all the convenience and utility of a real book.

The end result is someone culled through Wikipedia articles, a variety of websites (ours included, along with U2wanderer.org, U2.com and a bevy of others) and took what was on the Web and put it into book form. Worse yet, it's a hasty cut-and-paste job that was in desperate need of copy editing. Even the direct quote above from the back cover has spelling and grammar errors.

These types of books are quickly hitting the marketplace. One author, Kevin Roebuck, has over 400 books sourced from Wikipedia.  The Wikimedia Foundation's terms of use states, "all users contributing to Wikimedia projects are required to grant broad permissions to the general public to re-distribute and re-use their contributions freely, as long as the use is attributed and the same freedom to re-use and re-distribute applies to any derivative works." What this boils down to is that if someone cites your work on Wikipedia, then it's up for grabs. Individual authors do not need to be given attribution if it's a website; only the website needs to be given credit.

I bring this up because there are many students in high school and college who will be writing papers during the next semester and beyond. I know many teachers and professors do not want to see Wikipedia listed as a source. If a book like Hall's is listed as a source, it's just masking itself as a real source instead of what it is -- a condensed version of Wikipedia. The sources are listed at the end of each chapter, and it's my hope that the real source and the author of the content will be footnoted by students and future authors.


Bono and Edge shared some thoughts on 2011 and the future of U2 in 2012 in a subscribers' special interview on U2.com this week. The main news was that they have three albums in the pipeline. While this makes fans excited in anticipation of what the band can put out this year, I'm of the mindset that these four men really need to take some time off and be the dads they are. While Bono's daughters are in their 20s, his sons are just hitting the tween years. Edge's five children range in age from 11 to 28. Larry's three children are between 11 and 16. Adam's got a toddler he's trying to keep up with. It's my feeling that they've given their fans so much, so it's only right that we give them the time and space to be with their families.

Paul McGuinness said about the Achtung Baby recording sessions in U2 By U2, "There were some U2 proverbs floating around. There's one in particular I remember: 'Domesticity is the enemy of rock 'n' roll.' How can you possibly play a great guitar solo if you are then going to pick up the kids from school or do the shopping? There was an idea that to make a good record you needed to get away from the wife and kids."

I don't know if that proverb still applies in 2012, but if it means that we need to wait a little longer for any one of the three albums they are working on, then so be it.


And finally ... it's the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in the U.S. on Monday. Last year, I shared the many connections between U2 and Dr. King in an OTR column. The journey of equality truly does move on.

©@U2/Lawrence, 2012.

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