Published: February 8, 2005
I'd heard of the Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org/), but I'd never quite understood it. It's supposed to be a free online encyclopedia, written and edited by EVERYBODY. A collaborative worldwide effort, in other words, with 469,700 articles so far.
It sounds like a cool idea, but I just never understood how it could work. In this age of viruses, spyware and other rampant software vandalism, how could such a thing survive? What would stop antisocial jerks from sabotaging the good work of everyone else?
I finally got a clue when I saw this (http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/gems/umlaut.html). It's a movie, narrated by Infoworld blogger Jon Udell, that tracks the life cycle of one particular Wikipedia entry. It's fairy long, but it gives a dazzling time-lapse view of how the whole Wiki thing works.(It turns out that there are, in fact, administrators who alone wield ultimate editing power. Too bad; for one fleeting minute there, I actually thought I'd found an example of an online community building something worthwhile simply by working toward the greater good.)