8 June 2010

Review of Wikipedia books

Decided to search for reviews of the Wikipedia/Pediapress books. Learned that this is actually an old feature that has been made available to people without Wikipedia accounts. I'm logged in 90% of the time, so I have no idea why I didn't know of it. I also learned that there is some weird tech-hatred for the feature.

TechCrunch posted a non-descript, press release review on May 6th which garnered snarky comments such as Great, I really wanted a way to pay for Wikipedia content. Gizmodo, less charitably, on May 7th: when you've got to the point in your life where printing pages off from Wikipedia seems like a good idea...you need to be banned from society. Mashable, also on the 6th, gave a more thoughtful review, pointing out that [c]ontent can be customized around any topic or topics the user desires. The ability to curate content is one of the hallmarks of the latest wave of digital creativity. Mashable's readers, arguably more DIY friendly than pop-tech sites, were generally interested in the possibilities.

Compare these to the first comment from a (relatively) non-tech friend when I described the feature: "What a great idea for gifts!" Wikipedia is still a contentious concept, subject to snobbery ("you mean anyone can edit it?!") and divisionism ("liberal bias!"), so any project associated with it will inevitably get skewered with the same attacks. A coworker grudgingly admitted Pediapress books might be useful for non-controversial articles. Just how much of human knowledge is that controversial?! Have we come to believe that every subject is abortion or global warming? Though not without its problems, the value and rarity of much of Wikipedia's content compared with other internet resources is often underappreciated. Where would Google's first page of search results be without Wikipedia?

[ posted by sstrader on 8 June 2010 at 1:43:02 PM in Language & Literature | tagged pediapress ]