The death of Wikipedia

On the 24th of May this appeared on and it caused a stirr…

The death of Wikipedia

Wikipedia, the encyclopedia that "anyone can edit," was a nice experiment in the "democratization" of publishing, but it didn't quite work out. Wikipedia is dead. It died the way the pure products of idealism always do, slowly and quietly and largely in secret, through the corrosive process of compromise. There was a time when, indeed, pretty much anyone could edit pretty much anything on Wikipedia. But, as eWeek's Steven Vaughan-Nichols recently observed, "Wikipedia hasn't been a real 'wiki' where anyone can write and edit for quite a while now."

And the next day this appeared on the same site…

Now, let's bury the myth

I bought into the myth myself, I'm ashamed to say. In composing my requiem for Wikipedia yesterday, I originally wrote, "There was a time when, indeed, anyone could edit anything on Wikipedia." No, it turns out, there was never such a time. It was a myth from the very start. But "openness" is only the very tip of the mythical iceberg that Wikipedia has become. The bigger myth is that Wikipedia is an emanation of collective intelligence or, in the popular phrase, the "wisdom of the crowd." In this view, Wikipedia has a compeletely flat, non-hierarchical structure. It is a purely egalitarian collective without any bureaucracy or even any management. There's no authority.

Do you remember the dotcom boom? Remember the dotcom bust that some people didn't wanted to believe would inevitably happen? I can still remember Bill O'Reilly ranting that it's the new economy and that Greenspan is messing it up. Muhahahaha. I wonder if he still thinks that or has reality sunk in?

In the same way that some people wondered if there is a new economy and the old rules are done away with… in that same way how many of us thought wikipedia was the advent of truly social software – where the wisdom of the masses finally hit it's stride and conquered old media?

But… if wikipedia is a sham… then perhaps it's not something new, it's the same old same old. That would explain why old media News Corp owns so much of the new media as well. Is it business as usual?

Ah well… it was fun while it lasted eh?


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