Saturday, September 4, 2010

Being Wikipedia

WikipediaImage via Wikipedia"Some were worried that it would be like Wikipedia."

Seriously, someone actually said this, in front of other human beings, in a setting where others could hear it, and the words could be recorded with a name attached? Oh my!

My question: What part of being like Wikipedia has you so worried?

Being so popular has you concerned? The sixth most popular web site in the world? The number one search destination? Perhaps it was last year's 360 million unique visitors, or maybe the 13 billion page views? Those are big damned numbers. That is a lot of people learning a lot of things... I can see why that might keep you awake nights.

Maybe it's the depth and richness of Wikipedia's content? Those 3.4 million articles written in English? I bet you're concerned about the 35 million edits made by people from all walks of life? It's that engagement thing? That people are actively involved in creating knowledge can be a little scary. I feel your pain. All that collective learning and conversation is a bit disconcerting. What, you say you've never really looked at a Wikipedia discussion page? Ahhh! Go read a few right now and come back. I'll be waiting... Learn anything?

I know, I bet it's the accuracy of the content that's keeping you awake at night? I can see you being concerned about that "many eyes" method of peer-review. It's showing itself to be a lot more accurate than pretty much any other system ever devised. Some have even given this whole movement some new fangled name called distributed cognition. It's already wreaked havoc with the media. I can see where that sort of disruption in academia could be a major cause for concern. Perhaps it's something more personal, did you find something inaccurate in Wikipedia? (Maybe you could leave us a comment about that inaccuracy and all the difficulty you experienced trying to get it fixed?)

Yep, I can see why you'd be worried about being like Wikipedia. I'm sure there is nothing to be learned from the world's largest and most accurate source of knowledge. Obscurity is a much safer space to play.

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