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November 22, 2005

Wikipedia gets real


I know something's important to me when I allot one of the precious spaces in my computer's bookmarks bar to a website.

Yesterday Wikipedia went up there.

It's now my very first stop for information about almost anything.

Like Google, Amazon, and OneLook, it is sui generis.

No, that's not Latin for "generous pig" — even in Fayetteville.

But I digress.

Wikipedia has slowly morphed from one of many internet experiments into a powerful collection of information, open–source and ever–evolving.

Like you and me.

Don Tapscott, in today's Wall Street Journal, wrote that it's "seven times bigger than Britannica... [and] available in 92 languages."

Oh, yeah, one more thing: he forgot to mention that it's free.

It is amazing to me how Encyclopedia Britannica's online iteration, so wedded to its past it simply cannot help but continue to rearrange its deck chairs as it slowly sinks beneath the surface, continues to offer a paragraph on a topic, then tries to sell you a subscription so you can read the rest.

When you don't understand the language you're doomed when you have to live in a foreign land — at least online.

Oh, did I mention?

The Britannica website is cluttered, confusing, difficult to use, ugly, and very, very slow.

Other than that, they've twigged the internet perfectly.

November 22, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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I like Wikipedia and its format. The concept is a wonderful study in web collaboration. I've found a lot of useful info there and I've even made a contribution or three where I had some value to add. Its information quality, however, is not top notch, as the article, http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/10/18/wikipedia_quality_problem/ describes. I hope the owners are able to take steps to fix that.

Posted by: looseman | Nov 23, 2005 11:54:18 AM

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