We have the Power!

December 17, 2005

Continuing with my Web 2.0 contemplation, Wired News compares the accuracy of Wikipedia to Encyclopedia Britannica. The results are not what you would expect. It turns out that a Wikipedia article which receives enough viewers (and so has enough “fact-checkers”) is nearly as accurate as Britannica, long thought to be the bastion of human knowledge. This just once again shows the power of the many over the few, and how the Social tools of the internet become more efficient and useful simply as a result of the sheer number of participants. Thus we can only expect Wikipedia to become more accurate and comprehensive, while Britannica and its like will be left behind in the dust.

This reminds me of how the TV companies (NBC and the rest) kept on insisting that it would cost too much, and would be too complicated to put all their TV shows online for subscription/pay-per-view download. And at the same time thousands and thousands of people were managing to do just that with no official help, minimal funding, with only the support of ardent tv fans that helped create the now-gargantuan Bittorrent community.

The recent controversy over the existence of certain inaccurate articles in Wikipedia, and its somewhat misguided coverage in the mainstream media (specifically by CNN’s Kyra Phillips), shows the strength of the website, rather than expose a crippling flaw in its premise, which is what some would like us to believe.


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