Monday, July 10, 2006

Ken Lay's death as a Wikipedia case study

First, Wikipedia is not Encyclopedia Britannica, and I don't think it should be compared to a traditional encyclopedia. It is the flat earth alternative, the way blogs are supposed to be the flat earth alternative to the New York Times. They cover similar topics, but the process is different and so the product is different too. Rather than written by a bunch of alleged scholars to be sold to users, Wikipedia is written by users for users. I'm all for scholars, but Andrew Keen spends a lot of time telling us he's a scholar, and I'd rather read first grade book reports than the arrogant drivel that emanates from his pen- big words or not.

Second, and more importantly, the Wikipedia system worked. Yes, the entry was wrong at first. That is the price you pay for not having to wait and year and pay a fortune to read about it in the next edition of Encyclopedia Britannica. But it was fixed- and quickly. The collective brains of the "amateurish citizens" as Keen calls us are greater than the brain of an entry-level scholar writing for profit.Wikipedia isn't perfect. But this time it worked. Just the way it is supposed to.

Kent Newsome's blog (via Doc's links)

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