Kendall's Online blog

Friday, January 27, 2006

Wikipedia - The free online Encyclopedia

Wikipedia as defined by Wikipedia itself is a multilingual web-based free content encyclopedia. It is written jointly by volunteers and allows most articles to be changed by anyone with access to the internet and any web browser. What also makes it cool is that within each article you can actually bookmark words to their own page within Wikipedia. It started ion early 2001 and has more than 3.2 million articles contributed by close to 850 thousand users and its content is free to anyone on the internet in fact when I want to check up different topics, I actually search with the word and append Wikipedia in the search field and that way it shows up the Wikipedia link first.
It grew large primarily because a lot of users contributed to it but that is also its Achilles heel as users can actually change content at will and some of the information may actually be misleading. There is even a case of the founder of podcasting where he actually edited the history of podcasting to suit himself and downplaying the role of other individuals in the history of podcasting, they were able to trace the alterations to him since Wikipedia tracks the IP address of any the computers where edits are made from. There is also the more recent case of a close ally to the Kennedy family who was accused of being involved in the killing. The person who posted the article had to apologize and even resigned his position where he was working.
Wikipedia actually reduces the learning curve for people who need to know the meaning of stuff quickly or need a refresher. You have almost every thing there from mathematics, computers to music and art. In fact my roommate a few days ago was able to convince a friedn about that he knew more about her favourite artist than herself by providing more detailed information about the artist than she herself before confessing that he got all the facts from Wikipedia. I wonder if in the future kids will actually know the feeling of actually looking at a hard copy encyclopedia where you have to decode which volume holds the word you are looking for more information and you have to turn the pages of the volume a number of times before actually checking the information but we are in the information age and fast information retrieval is king.

P.S. My podcast was accepted and posted for free on Apple iTunes


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