16 January 2011

Happy birthday, Wikipedia!

hands wikipedia aussiegallphoto © 2009 Johann Dréo | more info (via: Wylio)

Wikipedia turned 10 these days. Officially, 15 January 2001 is considered the Wikipedia Day, though Wikipedia’s predecessor Nupedia went online as early as on 9 March 2000.

I decided to throw my 2 cents on Wiki since I regard it one of humanity’s most important achievements in terms of free access to information and spread of knowledge. It has also been a main drive behind the free culture movement and has heavily influenced the whole Web 2.0 thing. During the last decade Wiki has proven the so called wisdom of crowds theory correct and demonstrated people’s ability to contribute to the enhancement of knowledge. No wonder, Wiki is nowadays one of the major sources of information. Moreover, Wiki has become an identifier, a trade mark. Think of how many other sites use the predicate “wiki” to promote their content.

However, it is not all sunshine and roses. Anyone’s ability to edit or contribute has been used to question Wikipedia’s reliability as a source of information. Some corporations and individuals managed to create entries to present them or their businesses in a specific light. Others did not only attempt to influence public opinion, but to tarnish the image of (potential) adversaries. The Wikipedia wars were born.

Nevertheless, in the outcome Wikipedia is and remains an achievement. An achievement whose sustainability we all have to foster, maintain and protect.

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