The Free Encyclopedia
// Posted by Celia on 01/31/2013 (11:03 AM)
Growing up, the “Encyclopedia” was an extensive set of 20 or so books that lined our family bookshelf in alphabetical order. I could look up basically anything I wanted and find at least a paragraph about the topic. The books were easy to use and exciting. I loved projects that required me to look things up.
Enter 2001 and the “Encyclopedia” now had a new definition: Wikipedia. It started with an idea and 100 volunteers on a mission to create thousands of entries about pretty much anything. The pages also included the option to edit now, giving all users the option to contribute to the existing information. The concept challenged human interaction in a public forum; the pages were supposed to maintain unbiased and just communicate the facts. The pages were constantly changing, for better or for worse. Wikipedia.com was the first fluid Encyclopedia. Then, it became the Free Encyclopedia.
The evolution of the Wikipedia logo ^^ (from Wikipedia.com)
The creation of Wikipedia strikes me as similar to Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog whereby it represented a collection of various tools, items, and products compiled in a manner to appeal to the “New Communalists” and the “cowboys and nomads.” Both Wikipedia and the Whole Earth Catalog strike me as conglomerations of products and theories of their decades. Brand’s Catalog offered new ways to approach the computer. Wikipedia embodies an example of a fresh approach to personal computing, communal knowledge, and social forums.
An article in the New York Times published Septemeber 20, 2001 was used for the factual pieces of this post. The article can be found here.