Sunday, April 16, 2006

Edit Wars: wikipedians and vandals

So I ran into this great article on over the weekend discussing the trials and tribulations of Wikipedia. For those living under a pile of Encyclopedia Britanica, Wikipedia is an online resource designed to mimic the traditional use of encyclopedias but with the uber democratic high road of equal access for all to create, inform, and shape the content- warts and all. Its the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit and for those following such innovations, it may actually be the future of information in general. This is a world where content is created by the user of the content - not by a third party media 'mediator'. This is a very big idea and it is already showing political fallout within the battlegrounds of the edit button.

In just a 5 year run Wikipedia has published thousands of articles/entries which have been authored and shaped by thousands more. Increasingly, as paralleled by right/left wing bloggers in the war of opinion and 'real' facts - Wikipedia is begining to be a real live theater for hate mongers, pranksters, academics, and those dutiful political staffers whitwashing for their congressional bosses or mudslinging for the same. Of course Congress is the most egregious abuser!

Ultimately this is not only a battle of political wills but gets at the essence of a liberal democracy and the knowledge it values. Can we have an open discussion about everything and be willing to deal with the 'vandals' in the process - can we live with a living document? Or should we go the route of something partially open but ultimately left to review by a select group of editers with more traditional expertise and access to the more codified historical resources? (see elected judges vs. life-time appointments debate)

Should the informed have to battle with the ignroant about a matter of substance? Is there a choice?

read the article!

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