The Longest Now


Public knowledge repositories : Alternatives to Agglomeration
Friday July 08th 2005, 3:35 am
Filed under: %a la mod

I hereby declare that I will give a talk by that name sometime this
decade, simply to hear myself say it in front of a live audienceAlternatives to
Agglomeration…
this is a subject that librarians
[should] have been considering for millennia.  And yet
precious few have been found.

Even
new journal articles and research papers are supposed to becreated
entirely anew, not directly drawing more than a few paragraphsfrom one
another, even when reproducing someone else’s experiment stepby
step.  What does this say about our notions of
creativity,information creation, individuality, sense of self?

Wikipedia has recently become symbolic ofa
growing variety of new trends; many of which have nothing to do
withbeing either a wiki or an encyclopedia.  The most important
ofthem are simply to do with the idea of offering an open public knowledge repository,
which will never disappear
[and so in some sense can never get ‘worse’ if you know
where to look], which accepts suggestions, which tries to tackle each subject
it approaches broadly and thoroughly, not necessarily in that
order.

I’llfinish
up on this thought later, in a proper story. For now, let meleave you
with a comment from a Yahoo! blog post back in April, whentheir hosting
donation to Wikimedia (two score Korean servers comingonline soon) was
announced.

The Library
of Alexandria
is
held in very high regard. When it did exist it was neither reliablenor
publicly accessible. It was the personal property of one court. Itgrew
only with the arrival of the next ship’s library. The project
ofconfiscating books for copying actually made information
LESSavailable. It was absolutely riddled with errors, tall tales, ego
tripsand speculation. What it had going for it was that it was a
projectthat no one had accomplished before. No one had done it before
becausefew people saw the value in it.

That’s
where
Wikipedia is now -only it has every advantage that didn’t exist 2000,
or even 5 yearsago. Accessibility, reproducibility, and a vast ocean of
informationflooding into it every day.

Its potential for growth
is ultimately without limit. The fact that right now it has ten
articles about “American
Idol
” competitors for every one about a member of the Royal
Academy
is a temporary condition. What Wikipedia is now is
NOT what it will be in a year, five years, a hundred
years
. It’s not going to go away, and it’s already among the
most important cultural resources ever created.

Originally posted by: Dystopos,
hyperlinking mine

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