Moore’s Law, as amended

I was listening to Peter Day’s wonderful BBC business show as he interviewed Gordon Moore, who said that his first version of his law had transistors doubling on chips in a year but the public version made that two years. He noted that it’s often said his law calls for doubling every 18 months but that’s not true; he didn’t say that.

Sure enough, that error meme popped up the next day as I read John Markoff’s story about advances in computer storage and he said that Moore’s Law “decrees that the number of transistors on a silicon chip doubles roughly every 18 months.”

Just for the hell of it, I checked with that supposedly fatally flawed Wikipedia, and it said: “Moore’s Law describes an important trend in the history of computer hardware: that the number of transistors that can be inexpensively placed on an integrated circuit is increasing exponentially, doubling approximately every two years.” But the accompanying graphic gives the impression that 18 months is still the number.

I say this not to nya-nya the Times. Search at Google for “Gordon Moore” and “18 months” and you’ll find lots of erroneous statements of the law. Still, the Times’ story is one more expression of a mistake, which many will read and spread yet farther.

So I raise again the question of how we can better map content and corrections. How does Moore assure there is a definitive statement of his law? How do we know it comes from him? Once it’s acknowledged as correct, how do we notify those who got it wrong so the can correct it and start spreading the right meme? Truth is a game of wack-a-mole.