Thursday, June 12, 2008

Britannia Goes Wiki?

We have all witnessed the ‘We Think’ world described so succinctly by Charles Leadbeater. Readers have started to become users and are now contributing to the content not just digesting it. The best examples of this are Wikipedia and social sites such as You Tube. This has lead to the debate on the value of expert contributions and editorial versus self governance and somewhere between is probably the ideal model.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica, which relies on expert, edited contributions for its content has now, according to a post on Ars Technica, started to change. They have announced a tightly controlled system allowing users to generate and comment on content. Britannica are not embracing the wiki model but a "collaborative-but-not-democratic," one. Contributors to the Encyclopaedia are being encouraged to create detailed profiles on Britannica's site, qualifying themselves and listing their other works on the topics. Once accepted these ‘experts’ will be enabled to comment on entries, update their own versions, or even add new content.

The difference being that to be involved users must provide a full identity and qualification. Britannica's editors will be on the watch for any relevant updates to their material, and have the option of incorporating user-generated content if they feel it's of sufficient quality and importance. The user will be fully credited for their contribution.

Although a significant change, we would question whether its too little, too late. Wikipedia may have some errors and not be perfect but its content covers a far wider subject matter and is also more topical. Wikipedia continues to defy all the logic that Britannica was built on but it now appears that they are starting to acknowledge that, albeit very cautiously..

1 comment:

edwardbruce said...

I wonder why Britannia doesn't make itself a "closed" wiki a bit like Citizendium. This would allow its authors to update their entries on a ongoing basis instead of having to wait for a new edition to be brought out. It would also allows authors to start new pages and help bridge the widening gap in content between wikipedia and Britannia.