July 4th, 2008
During the week of July 6-12, I invite and encourage everybody who includes links in their email, blog posts, online chats, and other documents, to link to something other than Wikipedia.
I’m not trying to be a Wikipedia slayer. It wouldn’t matter if I were; that’s not going to happen.
I just want to remind everyone that there are thousands and thousands of interesting, well-informed, thought-provoking, educational websites out there, written by professors, researchers, doctors, artists, scientists, practitioners of every craft and industry—and however you slice it, these websites are getting a raw deal when it comes to links.
It’s not about whether Wikipedia articles are accurate or not. Some are, some aren’t. But that’s true of
The best thing about the Web is that it isn’t an encyclopedia. And Wikipedia is evidence that when Web culture meets encyclopedia culture, encyclopedia culture wins. Sure, Wikipedia is collaborative. Most encyclopedias are. They still give off an aura of total, centralized, complete knowledge and authority. And that’s not very Web-like, is it?
- If you’ve got a point to make about grammar, look for an English (or whatever language it is!) professor’s site. There are some great ones. Point the person you’re arguing with to a couple of those.
- Countries have their own informational websites, some official and some written by people who live there. Many of them are multi-lingual. Are they “balanced”? Probably not, at least not in the network news way. So much the better! Balance on the Web emerges from the quantity and interplay of sites. It’s not supposed to be embodied in every document. How boring!
- Wikipedia is great for technology-related topics. But so are lots of other sites. Are you sure that Wikipedia’s description of the algorithm you’re discussing on that mailing list is really the best? the clearest? the most engaging?
- You get the idea! Strike a blow for the richness of the Web, and for the beauty of discourse that doesn’t try to be poker-faced and non-committal, even about important issues. Rediscover the expertise of the many Web contributors who write about their own specialties and have taken the time to share their thoughts.
There’s a lot to learn at Wikipedia, but it’s time to spread the linkage!