Saturday, February 27, 2010

Stacy Schiff Reading Review

Know it all, Can Wikipedia conquer expertise, The New Yorker, July 31 2006.

The article starts off with a humorous list of examples from Wikipedia, and gives a light comparison to Britannica Encyclopedia. Wikipedia is all inclusive and instantly updated, and receives up to 14 thousand hits per second; all things that other encyclopedias are not. The founder Jimmy Wales and 5 other employees run the non-profit organization that meets most of its budget with donations.

Free knowledge for everyone with internet access, in over 200 languages and hundreds of thousands of contributers. Wales was inspired by the open-source movement, the idea of mass knowledge being available, and the Hayek's free-market manifesto. The first version was Nupedia, which led to the idea of a wiki to promote more contributers. The wiki ended up getting so many contributers that it had over twenty thousand articles in one year, compared to the 21 of Nupedia's first year

Wales cites Van Darnton's theory that the world is new and radical, and the encyclopedia should also be radical. At first there were no guidelines for Wikipedia, but now articles must have previously published content, and hold a neutral point of view.

There is now vast community of admins, contributors, editors, robots, vandals, and moonbats in the world of Wikipedia. Sanger, a co-founder who left the company in 2002, states that Wikipedia beats every other source when it comes to breadth, efficiency, and accessibility.

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