Prediction: By this time next year, Wikipedia won’t be Wikipedia anymore.
In the past week or so, a couple of instances of editorial creativity have come to light. First, there was the issue involving Adam Curry who was caught rewriting the history of podcasting, and now we have evidence of libel within a biographical article on John Seigenthaler Sr., the former administrative assistant to Robert Kennedy.
Now these are just a couple of controversies that have come to light. There could be (and likely are) more ‘problematic’ articles interwoven through Wikipedia. Yet, I’m sure that little blemish hasn’t tarnished the sparkle seen by many tech savy individuals and investment firms as they dream about the financial prospects of this community encyclopedia. So, the only way to transform Wikipedia into a vehicle that can realize its true destiny (i.e. ‘money making machine’), is to change its overall
And when this changes, Wikipedia will not be Wikipedia anymore.
Oh, it will still look like Wikipedia, and the functionality will remain the same. It just won’t be a community encyclopedia that can be edited and changed instantly by anyone anymore. Wikipedia will take submissions for new articles and screen current article changes before they hit the web. Sounds like a regular everyday encyclopedia doesn’t it? That’s because it is, and it’s what Wikipedia will become.
And the same things that plague other online and offline encyclopedias will ultimately plague Wikipedia. The ‘publishing’ cycle will slow way down as users inundate the site with new offerings and requests for content accuracy changes. Faced with the overwhelming task of working through the mountains of data, the
editors oversight committee will cut and chop Wikipedia and in the process take on a subtle bias peppered with a dash of political correctness. The breadth of material will narrow, since some topics will be just a little too ‘hot’, a little too intellectual and not sensational enough to keep an audience that makes money for the big pocketed corporate owners Google Adwords sidebar ads related to the articles they’re reading.
And don’t forget about the pressure Wikipedia will receive from higher education as it realizes that students throughout the globe regularly cite the online encyclopedia in their dissertations which find their way into STM (Science, Technical and Medical) journals and other online databases.
And then of course, the Government will have an interest in the ‘community’ encyclopedia as lawyers begin to include citations of law precedent in court documentation which they researched on Google
Alarmist? Chicken Little-ism?
I predict. We’ll see.
UPDATE: Good dialog on this subject happening at Dean’s World. Check the comments.
Others: Growing Pains for Wikipedia | Wikipedia and the Nature of Truth | How wikis are changing our view of the world | Wikipedia slander? | What Wikipedia doesn’t want you to know | Is Wikipedia a threat or a menace? | Wikipedia: A Techno-Cult of Ignorance | Wikipedia is the next Google |