Everything You Ever Wanted to Know, But Were Afraid to Ask…

I was sitting here fiddling with Google Earth, as I am prone, and noticed for the first time a city name of ‘Kingston’ hovering in the middle of the Pacific between New Zealand, Australia, and New Caledonia. “How curious”, I mused, and zoomed in to find Norfolk Island. A closer look showed a bucolic looking place of country lanes and homesteads and a bit of forest. The ruler tool showed me that the island was all of 5 miles and change in its longest dimension.

In other words, a tiny, isolated place in the midst of a vast ocean.

Curious to know more, I Googled it and found near the top of the list, as usual, the Wikipedia page on the topic. Not expecting a whole lot to be said about such a small place, I was surprised to find an extensive entry discussing the entire history of the place, details of the two murders that have occurred in recent years, how delivery ships dock at the jetty (it depends on the direction of the wind, you know), where it’s safe to swim, and the exact number of analog and digital telephone lines in service (as of 2004). Lovely panoramic photo, too. With a population of some 1841 (again, as of 2004), there are more words in the article than there are residents of the place, by a factor of more than 2! This is not to mention the subsidiary page on the politics of Norfolk Island, or the one on elections and parties in Norfolk Island. There are more, too.

So what’s the point here? I love Wikipedia! A couple of people who care deeply about this little island can write as much as they want about it, and we’re all the better for it. This can, I suppose, lead to disproportionate coverage and, therefore, a distorted account of the world, but I’ll take that over a more traditional encyclopedia entry which is likely to just say: “Small Pacific island and territory of Australia”.

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