Virginia Quarterly Review blogger Waldo Jaquith made quite a stir with his discovery that portions of Wired editor Chris Anderson‘s new book “Free” were pulled from unattributed sources, namely Wikipedia. But we wondered, how did Jaquith happen upon Anderson’s plagiarized sections?
We tracked down Jaquith — as he was en route to a vacation in Virginia Beach — and asked him how he made the connection between “Free” and Wikipedia.
For Jaquith, it all started with a parenthetical. During the passage from “Free” in which Anderson describes the saying “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” Jaquith noticed that something was amiss. “It mentioned Crescent City and then, parenthetically, said New Orleans,” he said. “At first, I was thrown off. I thought that maybe that before it was called New Orleans it was called Crescent City and I was mad at myself for not knowing that.”
The reference needled at Jaquith so he did some research. His first stop: Wikipedia. To his surprise, the Wikipedia entry for New Orleans only mentioned Crescent City as a nickname. So he Googled the citation just as Anderson had written it in his book. That’s how he found an entry for explaining free lunch on Wikipedia.