Steve Rubel thinks that Wikipedia is the Next Google, and he contends that it is powerful because it “provides access to largely accurate information that can be hard to find.” The basic theory is that one doesn’t need to fear Google, because much like the fear of Microsoft there’s always somebody out there trying to take down the king of the hill (as is currently happening in the Microsoft vs. Google conflict).
“Like its predecessors, Wikipedia is powerful because it provides access to largely accurate information that can be hard to find. This king, however, is unlike any other because it operates in a completely democratic way. It’s run by the people, without any grand financial ambitions. This doesn’t mean its rule will be perceived solely as a benevolent one, however.
Already, Wikipedia instills a deeper fear than either Google or Microsoft did when they were at such a young age. It’s the emerging king. Will it face the same scrutiny and fate as its predecessors as it expands? Certainly. But this time it will be far more difficult to slow. Yes, King Disruptor III – Wikipedia – might rule for years. And perhaps this may just be the way it was meant to be.”
Meanwhile, this fellow says no way.
I tend to agree with the second opinion. It takes some seriously rose-tinted glasses to overlook Wikipedia’s serious flaws. I like it as a mechanism for finding some information, but for it to move from its current niche to the mainstream it has some very serious and often overlooked quality issues, largely stemming from what Rubel claims is one of Wikipedia’s strengths – its “democracy.”
As author Nicholas Carr observed when examining the quality of some of Wikipedia’s entries:
“This is garbage, an incoherent hodge-podge of dubious factoids that adds up to something far less than the sum of its parts,” he wrote.
Something that aspires to be a reference work ought to be judged by the quality of the worst entry, he said, in response to the clock-stopped, right-time defense of the project, not by the fact it’s got some good articles.
Clay Shirky and some of Wikipedia’s other defenders can blow off “absolute quality” all they want, but for the service to actually become the king it is going to have to come to a place where quality is, in fact, “job one.”
Author’s Note: This article was originally posted at Wallo World.