[Air-L] Oscar Peterson, the Wikiblip

Barry Wellman wellman at chass.utoronto.ca
Fri Dec 28 19:46:24 PST 2007

Oscar Peterson was a friendly acquaintance of mine (and even more of Bev
Wellman's), and we are mourning his death and celebrating his life.

In addition to playing every Oscar disk we have, s seems to becoming my
custom, one aspect of this is editing Oscar's Wikipedia site. Which has
seen a feeding frenzy in the past few days.

I just did a count of the number of edits on the site (you can do this too
by going to "Oscar Peterson" and clicking on History.

All dates/times Greenwich Mean Time (which is official Wikipedia time

December 19 -- 2 edits before death (and no public announcement of
illness). routine edit. There had been about 4 routine edits per month
throughout 2007.

December 23 -- 1 edit. Died that day, but not public announced. Edit has
no hint of death.

December 24 -- 42 edits. Death announced in the morning news. I heard it
at 1200 EST. First edit of the day, by someone else was at 1722 GMT (1222
EST) containing the news of Oscar's death, altho inaccurately saying it was Dec

December 25 -- 40 edits. Further refinements. Quotes, Canadian content

December 26 -- 33 edits

December 27 -- 17 edits

December 28 -- 10 edits

So Oscar's page is settling down. RIP.

I've copied Danyel Fisher on this, because when he was a student working
with me at Berkeley, he had a neat little research note on "the rise and
fall of Melessa" (a badly spelled early virus, when such were big news)
which similarly tracked the very quick peaking and tailing off of an

Another variation on Andy Warhol's "5 minutes of fame". While Oscar had
his justifiable jazz fame since the early 1950s, his WikiFame basically
lasted 3+ days in December 2007.
 Barry Wellman

  S.D. Clark Professor of Sociology, FRSC              NetLab Director
  Centre for Urban & Community Studies           University of Toronto
  455 Spadina Avenue          Room 418          Toronto Canada M5S 2G8
  http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman            fax:+1-416-978-7162
  Updating history:     http://chass.utoronto.ca/oldnew/cybertimes.php
         Elvis wouldn't be singing "Return to Sender" these days

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