In praise of Wikipedia: A celebration of an astonishing achievement, and a few worries
Posted in: Miscellaneous at 16/01/2011 16:07
The internet's omniscience is one of its most useful and transformative features. Whether you want to look up an obscure word or phrase, get a quick briefing on an historical figure or dig into a little-known scientific or political concept, help is just a click away. In part this is because of the power and reach of Google's search engine; but search is only as useful as the information it retrieves, and for many common queries the top match will be an entry in Wikipedia, an online, user-generated encyclopedia which celebrates its tenth birthday this week.
Wikipedia started life as an offshoot of Nupedia, a free, online encyclopedia being written by experts. To speed up the production of articles, two members of the Nupedia team, Larry Sanger and Jimmy Wales, had the idea of allowing anybody to edit entries, using "wiki" technology. The result quickly eclipsed Nupedia.