In thinking about making meals completely from scratch, Waldo Jaquith realizes that making a simple cheeseburger would have been nearly impossible before the twentieth century.
Tomatoes are in season in the late summer. Lettuce is in season in in the fall. Mammals are slaughtered in early winter. The process of making such a burger would take nearly a year, and would inherently involve omitting some core cheeseburger ingredients. It would be wildly expensive-requiring a trio of cows-and demand many acres of land. There’s just no sense in it.
A cheeseburger cannot exist outside of a highly developed, post-agrarian society. It requires a complex interaction between a handful of vendors-in all likelihood, a couple of dozen-and the ability to ship ingredients vast distances while keeping them fresh.
Chris Anderson’s new book, Free, will be out early next month (you can order it for $17.81 on Amazon). Over on the VQR blog, Waldo Jaquith discovered that several passages in the book were lifted directly from Wikipedia and other sources without attribution.
These instances were identified after a cursory investigation, after I checked by hand several dozen suspect passages in the whole of the 274-page book. This was not an exhaustive search, since I don’t have access to an electronic version of the book. Most of the passages, but not all, come from Wikipedia.
In response to a query by Jaquith — bloggers take note — sent *before* the publication of the piece, Anderson took responsibility for the copied passages, saying that they were “notes” that were originally footnoted:
This all came about once we collapsed the notes into the copy. I had the original sources footnoted, but once we lost the footnotes at the 11th hour, I went through the document and redid all the attributions […] Obviously in my rush at the end I missed a few of that last category, which is bad. As you’ll note, these are mostly on the margins of the book’s focus, mostly on historical asides, but that’s no excuse. I should have had a better process to make sure the write-through covered all the text that we not directly sourced.
Anderson’s publisher, Hyperion, considers his response to be satisfactory and will correct the errors in future editions.