11 November 2008

Sleepless in Bridgton, Missouri

I recieved a nice email from a chap named Mike Hoffman inviting me to have a look at a couple of links to things he had written about European City Bikes and the change occuring in North America regarding urban cycling.

One of the links was to a page on Wikipedia that he had composed. A thorough, well-written and sober description of the 'European City Bike' and how it is used in the Netherlands. Great stuff.

We emailed back and forth a couple of times and then he mentioned that someone had edited the Wikipedia entry out of the blue.

It's a long entry but the person had spent a great deal of time adding references to the fact that the 'European City bike' is only useful in flat terrain, banging on about how 'heavy' they are and mentioning that American bike shops don't feature them as they are not compatible with the 'varied terrain' of America.

It is comedy, pure comedy. Imagining spending over an hour reading, rewriting, editing a Wikipedia entry about a bicycle and changing the text to reflect not fact, but rather personal taste and opinion. If it was meant as a joke, I would understand it, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

I was curious. As is the nature of Wikipedia, you can see who makes changes to pages. Not suprisingly, the user is anonymous. There is, however, an IP address, and two clicks on the internet gives you a geolocation.

Bridgton, Missouri. Not far from St. Louis, apparently. The user's editing history is fun if you're sleepless wherever you are.

Heaps of editing changes to bike related entries about Peugeot, Schwinn, 'racing bikes', 'utility bikes', and so on. Obviously a real 'enthusiast' with knowledge of bicycles. Maybe someone from a bike shop? There are only two in Bridgton but a handful in the surrounding area.

Then there are changes to entries about the Soviet Union and the Foreign Intelligence Service in Moscow. I'm no expert in profiling, but at the least it's good fun guessing and forming images in my head about this anonymous Bridgton resident who despises European city bikes so much and fears the current boom.

You can see the changes he/she made on this page.

Ah, well, I amused myself for 30 minutes or so. If anyone knows the person, say hi. And if anyone fancies engaging themselves in a cyber war, go change the Wikipedia entry for Bridgton and write how the town is a hotbed of normal people on normal bikes and very Euro-centric and... any other good ideas? :-)