Wikipedia and ‘harnessing collective intelligence’

Web 2.0 resources are often referred to as ways in which the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ can be harnessed. Wikipedia is one of Web 2.0 applications that are dedicated to provide information through free online encyclopedia.  Wikipedia has encouraged users, anyone, irrespective of qualifications and expertise, can contribute and add entries or information in the free online encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

In their initial brainstorming, Tim O’Reilly formulated the definition of Web 2.0 by giving examples comparing Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. One of the examples is to compare Encyclopedia Britannica Online as Web 1.0 and Wikpedia as Web 2.0. As it can be seen that Encyclopedia Britannica Online is a traditional encyclopedia compiled by an exclusive group of experts. On the contrary, through employing Web 2.0 concept, Wikipedia has put the power of knowledge into the hands of general public. In short, Wikipedia can be regarded as having been demonstrating the pattern 1 of Web 2.0, harnessing collective intelligence.

The primary principle of Wikipedia is to allow any user to contribute to the entries or content of encyclopedia. The content can be shared among other users, and also edited by other user. This principle can be considered as two of best practices, ‘trust your users’ and ‘involve users explicitly’. Wikipedia has provided an open context to create and modify content; and to allow collaboration, participation, interaction, and ceded some control to share control.

One of the main concerns raised about Wikipedia is the seeming ability of the everyday person to access the site and post exactly what he or she sees fit with his or her vested interest. Critics of this system see it as an opportunity to express political or religious bias, to draw attention to a particular issue, or simply to cause havoc by deliberately defacing and vandalising the site content.

Considering the abovementioned concern, I reckon that the future of Wikipedia depends on efforts to improve the authoritativeness of its content by developing systems that allow users to regulate the material posted on the site.


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