Editorial: Is A.L. defined by a strike?

Published 7:31 am Friday, November 27, 2009


If you use the Internet and seek quick answers, you can’t help but find the site handy.

Yet the Albert Lea entry on Wikipedia paints an oversimplified history of this city. It pretty much goes like this:

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The city is named for a topographer. Then there was the big strike of 1959.

If you care about attracting jobs to Albert Lea, you can’t help but think it paints our city as a troublesome union town. The unions don’t like that reputation either. There is much more to life in Albert Lea, and many fine reasons to come here.

But there is a solution.

Anyone can make changes to Wikipedia. Let’s repeat that. Anyone can make changes to Wikipedia.

That is what the “wiki” implies. It is a Hawaiian word for “fast.” You need only basic Web programming skills.

Now, sure, changes that seem overly promotional will get flagged by Wikipedia editors. But the point remains that it indeed is possible for city entities that should care about Albert Lea’s Wikipedia entry to portray a broader picture of the city.

City of Albert Lea, Albert Lea Economic Development Agency, Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce, Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau and Freeborn County Historical Museum ought to pool their resources and knowledge.

And surely some leaders are quick to say they don’t have time or people for this.

But this is how that problem is tackled.

Those entities can ask the people of Albert Lea for volunteers. Get a Wikipedia panel together of folks who like the following topics: geography, demographics, history, economic development, tourism, recreation, sports, climate, sites of interest and, of course, computer programming.

Have them look at the Rochester entry and shoot for one as good as that.

The people of Freeborn County pooled efforts to produce a 606-page history book in 1988. Surely, the people of Albert Lea can pool efforts to write a few paragraphs for the high-traffic Web site of Wikipedia. Albert Lea is more than just a strike.