Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The online community

There has been a lot of discussion in some media lately about the communal power of the internet.

The cover story in this week's BusinessWeek, for example goes into this in great detail.

In that article there is mention of wikis. Community-built websites in which everyone can have a say. Probably the most famous example of a wiki is Wikipedia.org, the constantly updated, edited, questioned online encyclopedia.

Well, I found another wiki that seems attractive to me and one that demonstrates the "power" behind this notion of internet community.

WikiHow aims to make the largest "how-to manual" in the world. If you know to replace a carburetor, go on this site to explain it. If someone got there before you, make sure they got it right and edit it if they made a mistake. Do you need to know how to carve a coconut? No problem.

The argument make by BusinessWeek is kind of compelling and subversively threatening to the status quo. By giving individuals a voice, what happens to authority? And what happens if you follow someone else's advice on how to change your carburetor and then your engine blows up? Who do you sue?

The magazine article is long, but worth it. And let me know what you think.

1 comment:

Jack H. said...

I just stumbled on your June 14 post on wikiHow and enjoyed reading it. I think you have some very good points. wikiHow and wikis in general are "subversively threatening to the status quo"...and isn't that grand! We are delighted to be giving individuals a voice.

By the way since you posted this one month ago, wikiHow has now doubled in size. In addition, the quality of the articles continues to improve. I don't know what will happen in the future, but I do think wikis and community collaboration are very powerful.