I don't need to imagine it. It already exists. It's called "THE INTERNET".
(Since not 'every single person' has access to private web sites, see also: "LIBRARIES".)
(Distributed content creation and management does not mean a single set of privately-owned centralized servers.)
Imagine an encyclopedia where no article is never final, there is no obligation for fact checking, and where any person with a computer can delete or re-write articles (well-researched or otherwise). Imagine a community of authors where subcultures take over whole sections of content to advocate their own world-views or interests. Image this encyclopedia re-distributed accross the world with no warning about content accuracy or suitability. Imagine the frustration and disappointment of thousands (if not millions) of people when the site goes down, and they realize they wasted days or months of their lives authoring content for free....
A glorious non-profit, or a money making scam?
The Wikimedia Foundation, based in St. Petersburg, Florida, recently (June 2005) concluded a fund drive which raised over US$90,000 [£55,000 or €80,000] (primarily through individual donations of US$50 or less). (In February, wikimaniacs were so keen to stump up the cash that they overshot their target of $75,000 (£42,000) in just a few days.)
(People were encouraged to donate because of simultaneous "server problems"....
There is speculation that people often donated when they imagined that their emotional investment (of content) also required a financial investment to protect their work from disappearing.)
August/September 2005: Fund drives now once per quarter.
See Fund Drives, 2005, 3rd Quarter : raised USD $220,000 for 3 months of expenditures. No details on precisely why the $146,400 spent on server equipment in the last quarter wouldn't last them more than 3 months...
The Wikimedia Foundation Inc. is the parent organization of Wikipedia, Wiktionary,
Wikiquote, Wikibooks, Wikisource, In Memoriam 9/11, Wikimedia Commons, Wikispecies,
Wikinews, and Nupedia (defunct).
It is a non-profit corporation organized under the laws of Florida, USA.
Its existence was officially announced by former Bomis CEO and Wikipedia co-founder Jimbo Wales on June 20, 2003 (*).
The goals of the foundation are to develop and maintain open content, wiki-based projects and to provide the full contents of those projects to the public free of charge. In addition to managing the already developed multilingual general encyclopedia Wikipedia, there is a multi-language dictionary and thesaurus named Wiktionary, an encyclopedia of quotations named Wikiquote, a repository of source texts in any language named Wikisource, and a collection of e-book resources aimed specifically toward students (such as textbooks and annotated public domain books) named Wikibooks. The Foundation also manages a memorial collection of articles about the Sept. 11 attacks and the operations of the largely dormant Nupedia project (which is not a wiki but is open content). The continued growth of each of the Wikimedia projects is dependent on donations. The Wikimedia Foundation aims to increase revenue by finding alternative means of financing, including including grants and sponsorship.
With the Foundation's announcement, Wales also transferred ownership of all Wikipedia, Wiktionary and Nupedia domain names to Wikimedia, along with the copyrights for all materials related to these projects that were created by Bomis employees or Wales himself. The computer equipment used to run all the Wikimedia projects was also donated by Wales to the Foundation. The domain names wikimedia.org and wikimediafoundation.org were secured for the Foundation by Wikipedia contributor Daniel Mayer. As of June 2004, Wikimedia's bandwidth and power is donated to the project by Bomis.
Links: Wikimedia Foundation Home Page (the Wikimedia empire)
Quote from article at the Guardian Unlimited Online (http://www.guardian.co.uk/online/story/0,3605,1546162,00.html):
So can the other encyclopedias hope to match Wikipedia's pace? Maybe not, because Wikipedia has become something else.
"Books like the Encyclopedia Britannica are nothing else than simple knowledge compendiums without any political soul," says Jean-Baptiste Soufron, a legal adviser to the Wikimedia Foundation. "I am convinced that Wikipedia is the only real encyclopedia of our days because it's the only one that relies on a real political goal: to pursue freedom over content and information."
(/EndQuote) Sounds good, right? We should be free from restraint from content, right? But note that FREEDOM is more important to Wikipedia than CONTENT and INFORMATION (and, by extension, more important than TRUTH, ACCURACY, FACT CHECKING, EDITORIAL REVIEW, ACADEMIC STANDARDS, etc., etc.)
"So what?" you may ask. Well, consider this; bureaucrats, policy makers, corporate executives, even students, may, more and more, start using Wikipedia or its offshoots and mirrors as a source for information.
This information consists primarily of (often heavily biased) opinion, and
is often inaccurate (or, at best, misleading). They may not realize that they
should consider the information as suspect until externally verified.
So it affects you when public policy decisions start being made or influenced by individuals with inaccurate or politically biased information.
A question about scaling. (2.75 / 12) (#64)
by Kasreyn on Sat Dec 4th, 2004
"If Wiki, in all its manifold guises, ever truly does hit the big time - as in, people OTHER than computer geeks hear about it - how will it handle large-scale attacks on its data without resorting to a hierarchical structure (which would result in a controllable, and eventually no longer free, system)?
Suppose Wiki gets so big that everyone hears about it, it becomes bigger than Yahoo, people load wiki articles on their cell phones and see news articles reprinted in their local paper with a Wikinews byline. What then? What's to prevent an organization like, say, the Christian Coalition, from having a group of volunteers work around the clock to constantly edit the articles on homosexuality, god, jesus, christianity, fundamentalism, salvation, morality, abortion, you name it, to what they want? As soon as it's changed back, change it again. Does Wikipedia have a system where a user can undo the changes done by more than one user, or gain more effective use of time, or is it a 1:1 thing? If it takes one wikiman-hour* to undo one fundie-hour of data trashing, I respectfully would like to point out that the fundies seem to outnumber us knowledge geeks by a good deal.
Thus far, Wikipedia has relied heavily on the heavy involvement and nigh-heroic effort of a relatively small cadre of people who are determined to keep it a free and truthful encyclopedia. If John Q. Public comes to play, where will Wikipedia find enough unbiased truth-seekers to keep the revisionist agenda-bearers at bay? It would be a shame if Wiki eventually came to be nothing more than a mirror of the public's vanities, preconceptions, and myths (assuming it's not already!). "
A reference work (often in several volumes) containing articles on various topics (often arranged in alphabetical order) dealing with the entire range of human knowledge or with some particular specialty.
"The Guardian reports that "Wikipedia, the open, editable encyclopedia,
and its sister projects have gone from absolutely nothing to 22M entries in
less than half a decade. In doing so, Wikipedia - the centrepiece of the Wikimedia
empire - has become the most detailed encyclopedia in history [probably
also the most inaccurate and biased encyclopedia in history as well. - Editor].
Further at Wikimania, Jimmy ("Jimbo") Wales, named a list of things "that should be free".
While not quite commandments, they amount to 10 ideas about how the "Free Culture Movement", as he termed it, could extend the wiki ethic beyond the pages of its ever-growing encyclopedia. Among the projects under discussion are an online atlas charted by members of the public; a repository of classical music to be performed by student orchestras; a file format to rival the mighty MP3; an online curriculum stretching from kindergarten to university; and an archive of images of paintings by the old masters. In short,Wikipedia is to spread its wings over many more forms of culture". "
Free Culture? It's already here.
Give me a break, Jimbo.
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