Monday, October 17, 2005

Wikipedia is the encyclopaedia of the future?

At home we have the 1982 version of the Encyclopaedia Britannica; it sits in this massive book case and mostly gathers dust. Back when I was in Primary and High School it was however very helpful, the Britannica was easy to use and there was allsorts of old information that was really useful for history but this was of course before the internet came onto the seen and was easier to use.

I think that Wikipedia is definitely a form of encyclopaedia of the future It is easy to use, it has over 700 000 articles in English alone as well as a variety of different language editions, German being the next biggest with over 300 000 articles. Anyone is able to edit an article on Wikipedia which means that there is a variety of information on the site. I find that I use Wikipedia to look up information and use as a background and understanding tool, it has basic articles and more complex articles on more obtuse things.

People are moving towards an environment where they use the Internet as a main source of information and Wikipedia is perfect for that as it has some very relevant and what seem to be true articles. The problem I have with Wikipedia is that anybody is able to write and article on Wikipedia so there tend to be some rather random articles, and you can never really be sure about who wrote the article and how much research went into writing it. I think that Wikipedia could be the encyclopaedia of the future simply as it is free and easily accessible, where as my old Britannica is expensive and rather heavy and not as accessible. But some how a system must be put in place to ensure that the information that is placed on the net is correct and not just a bunch of arb facts that some guy as just pulled out form somewhere.

While this has been said I do think it can be really useful for some background information, but I would still use my old faithful Encyclopaedia Britannica as a main source. Even if it is gathering dust I can be sure that the information in it is true.


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