Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Wikipedia is Dead...Long Live Wikipedia

So Nick Carr thinks Wikipedia is dead. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has said that 'semi-protected articles will no longer be required to announce themselves as such to the general public'. Does this fact alone render Wikipedia dead? Seems Nick Carr thinks so. Then again, if you read the comments (which are much more interesting than his post) I get the feeling that he's trolling the waters for more eyeballs on his blog. It worked - I went there to read it - but I wouldn't draw water from that well too many times. Your ass will undoubtedly get bitten and your reputation will suffer, if indeed he cares about that stuff.

Every time the whole Wikipedia thing flares up, I'm left scratching my head as to why people think an encyclopedia's job is to document modern web history, current political allegiances and other volatile information. Revisiting Dave Winer's various blog posts relating to Wikipedia, I came across this:

That must stop now, surely. Every fact in there must be considered partisan, written by someone with a confict of interest. Further, we need to determine what authority means in the age of Internet scholarship. And we need to take a step back and ask if we really want the participants in history to write and rewrite the history. Isn't there a place in this century for historians, non-participants who observe and report on the events?

Believe it or not, there are people who go to Wikipedia for information on things like dog breeds, reinforced concrete and the latin language. Hell, have you seen the quality of the article on Knitting!? It's frickin' fabulous! It's a quality source for an absolute ton of information. Be glad you have it!

And don't think history should never be re-written. Everybody has a slant on things. Everybody. Do you really think the history written in my grade 6 textbooks back in 1977 was correct and always will be? You're damn right history should be corrected when it's found to be inaccurate. It's our duty to learn from our past, not cover it up.

Will the article on George W. Bush be kept constantly under guard against vandalism? Of course!

Will the article on the founder of the next great web technology be up for dispute? Who cares?

Will Nicholas G. Carr try to pull his bio from what he deems to be a sinking ship? I'd be very surprised. ;)

Quit trying to bury something that is overwhelmingly good and useful because you can't see past the end of your noses!