The first was Twitter. My reaction then, which I cowardly kept to myself, was that if something can be said in less than 140 characters, it isn't worth reading. What I was not appreciating is omnipresence of the small screen, and the fascination of being able to communicate largely useless information at any time, like when driving on freeways. But I still hold to my curmudgeonly conclusion at the time. Tweeting is a colossal waste of time, but so are many of the things we do, like writing a blog.
The second was Wikipedia. I do recall what he was saying about open programming of a free encyclopedia -- and it did sound cool, although it has taken a decade of watching it develop and finally participating in parts of it myself to get a deeper understanding. My understanding is really not very sophisticated compared to some people I now work with, but it turns out to be a lot more so than anyone with whom I have discussed WikiProject Medicine.
Wikipedia's strength is its greatest weakness -- its openness means that anyone throughout the world can contribute knowledge -- and literally millions of people do all the time. And its openness means that anyone throughout the world can contribute what he thinks is knowledge, and unless a more knowledgeable "editor" does something about it quickly, that contribution will stick. And until someone else takes the more courageous step of removing that silly bit of supposed information, it will stay there. It takes more courage to remove stuff -- much more courage -- that is already in a published article than it does to add some inane text that has some sort of inane reference citation to support it.
A few months ago I volunteered to help with an effort at UCSF to improve the content of medical articles on Wikipedia. But more on that tomorrow when you and have more patience. Moreover, the Westminster Dog Show starts today.