Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Burning down the libraries

Anyone reading this blog on an ongoing basis can't have failed to miss the fact that I make extensive links into the Wikipedia, usually to provide some background colour. This shouldn't lead people to the believe that I think Wikipedia is an accurate sourcce of knowledge on all, or any topic. I love Wikipedia, but I don't entirely trust it.

Recently it seems that a lot other people don't entirely trust it either and I'd agree quite whole heartedly that, from the point of view of a specialist, Wikipedia needs work. Of course the notion that any encyclopedia is unbiased is absurd, indeed despite the modern view, this probably wasn't the original point of these books.

However before Wikipedia, or the Web come to that, there existed Usenet FAQs. They embodied a large collection of knowledge on diverse topics, and while theoretically open to all in practice they, unlike Wikipedia, were heavily peer-reviewed and pro-expert. Perhaps, in part, because unlike Wikipedia after a few months reading a specific Usenet group, it was very obvious who the experts were...