In the news

In the news

Wikipedia may be the "next big thing"

Mitch Kapor

Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus Development and chair of the Mozilla Foundation, discussed the Wikipedia model in detail in a keynote speech at the Open Source Business Conference on 14 February; Ross Mayfield summarized the talk at "Learning from Wikipedia", and blogger Dan Farber also had a report: "Mitch Kapor: Why Wikipedia is the next big thing" (ZDNet).

Quotes from Ross Mayfield's summary:

[Mainstream media] failed to notice that after the Seigenthaler affair, the Nature article showed a comparison in favor for the quality of scientific articles over the Brittanica. The quality was roughly equivalent for Wikipedia and fact, not statistically different. But in the Brittanica articles were poor. But after the article came out, the quality of those very articles improved [in Wikipedia].
I became convinced that Wikipedia was going to be the next big thing. And things like it. I have some history here. Next big things I have gotten right before:
[If] I was pointing someone now for what was going to be a big thing, it would be doing something where you harness the efforts of a community, one that is truly empowered. People here, basing their business on Linux; having a widespread community is what makes it goes. The community should own the underlying resource, the knowledge base created, because they will contribute if they know it is a commons, not owned by the business organization which commands attention of people who come in.

Paul Saffo

Another look at Wikipedia's future was published in the San Francisco Chronicle on February 19, in "Institute for the future", an interview with "professional bystander" Paul Saffo of the Institute for the Future:

Q: Can we continue to speed things up or is there a logical limit to information overload?
A: I don't think information overload is a function of the volume of information. It's a derivative of the volume of information plus the sense-making tools you have. [...] The rise of Wikipedia (an online encyclopedia) -- that's a sense-making tool. These are tools that help us make sense of information. I think it was Samuel Johnson who said, "There are two kinds of information in this world: that what you know and that what you know where to get."
Q: You talk about the benefits of using wikis and a divergence of thought. How do the two things come together? What are your thoughts on the reliability of Wikipedia in this culture of polarized thought?
A: I'm actually an optimist about what lies ahead. Are wikis reliable? It depends on the specific business. Is Wikipedia reliable? You bet. Wikipedia is a researcher's dream.

China block

The Washington Post published a long story covering the ongoing block of Wikipedia in Mainland China (see related story) on 20 February, entitled "Reference Tool On Web Finds Fans, Censors" (registration required). The story was reprinted on MSNBC: "Chinese Wikipedia finds fans, censors".

Muhammad Cartoons

According to a 16 February press release ("The Wikipedia Muhammad Cartoons Debate"), the Iraq Museum International is publishing a three-volume e-book containing over a thousand pages of conversation from various Wikipedia discussion pages, covering "the heated online discussions among the users of Wikipedia, the world's largest Internet encyclopedia, as they edited articles dealing with the notorious satirical drawings of Muhammad first published in Denmark." The e-book is released under the GFDL, as Wikipedia requires.

Downloads: Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3

Comedy of misunderstandings in The Times

"Comedy of errors hits the world of Wikipedia", published February 12 in The Times, noted several individual instances of vandalism in prominent Wikipedia articles. However, the article makes a false allegation: "One saboteur, codenamed Thruston, changes the same sentence in Blair’s entry on an almost daily basis to accuse him of setting out to “destroy” civil service neutrality." The reporter apparently misconstrued Thruston's single edit to the Tony Blair article, his reversion of an inappropriate edit, as vandalism itself. Even then, the edit Thruston cleaned up was a violation of style guidelines, not the destructive vandalism the article cites.

The piece also interprets everyday recent changes patrol as a state of "attack", saying "Hackers are abusing this openness to vandalise the site so frequently that its gatekeepers are relying on a volunteer army of nearly 1,000 supporters to police and correct the entries," and mistakenly says "Wikipedia is now planning a fixed version of its encyclopedia which cannot be changed." The story was reprinted or summarized in several other newspapers (including "Wikipedia - separating fact from fiction", The New Zealand Herald) and blogs (including "Wikipedia or Wackypedia?", p2pnet).

New York Times

"Fakin' It: A Marketer Intends to Tease Consumers", in The New York Times, includes brief mention of a marketing hoax article on "Pherotones" that Wikipedia deleted.

Congress (still)

Cautious articles


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