June 17, 2006
Wiki on the NY Times
Wikipedia discussion has made it to the NY Times in an article in today's paper. The article is actually less well balanced on the central issues that what one finds in the recent online discussions. But what I find most vexing is that the way NYT presents it, wikipedia is now being criticized for not living up to its billing of a web page "anyone can edit."
This is such a knee-jerck political reaction: someone takes a principled stand or advances a new idea, that principle is then taken to the extreme (e.g., if anyone can edit, than no edit should ever be censured), and then the company is criticized for not upholding this apsurd standard. Wiki is a continual process, and certain measures of protection (of which wikipedia's are minor) should be considered necessary maintenance. And this should not undermine the basic idea that a collective of amateurs with easy access to a network of information can provide better encyclopedia services than traditional editing practices.
It seems that there might be ways of employing restricitions to wiki editing, ones for instance that were small technical hurdles and in no way impinged a priori on anyone's participating, such that these rules could retain the democratic principles of the wiki.