Wikipedia is the best known collector of social information.Â The site is more than six years old and as is known to most users as an online encyclopedia that anyone can edit.Â It is really more than an encyclopedia as an article in the New York Times titled, “All the News That’s Fit to Print Out” explains,
For centuries, an encyclopedia was synonymous with a fixed, archival idea about the retrievability of information from the past. But Wikipedia's notion of the past has enlarged to include things that haven't even stopped happening yet. Increasingly, it has become a go-to source not just for reference material but for real-time breaking news â€” to the point where, following the mass murder at Virginia Tech, one newspaper in Virginia praised Wikipedia as a crucial source of detailed information.
Wikipedia is a representation of information that evolves as our understanding of that information evolves.Â Interestingly, as Jonathan Dee points out, more than 6.8 million work together to create and edit more than 1.8 million articles.Â This ’social information’ is increasingly becoming more and more timely.Â For the past six years users have been working on competing with existing encyclopedias like Britanica, but now Wikipedia has transcended that traditional model.Â The internet and the social interaction it allows have created something all together different, and fundamentally better.
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