Logically, I now have a deep and abiding relationship with Wikipedia. (If you need to get up to speed, read the "About" page, or read the article on the topic of Wikipedia in the Wikipedia.) Wikipedia is everything the web is supposed to be, and I thank God for Al Gore and his invention of the Internet! I know some people bash Wikipedia. (Funny take on it from Wired here.) "Anybody can say anything in those articles! How can you believe what you're reading?," they say. Consider, however, that it is not anybody doing the writing, but it is everybody doing the writing. If you contribute something goofy, it won't last an hour. Granted, there have been some high profile smears perpetrated - but to suggest this only occurs in the shape-shifting web world is silly. Most of the first class smearing is done on the printed page, and there's no counterpoint, no rapid-fire editing, to remove those black marks on your permanent record. And consider also, that back in the day of the Brittanica and World Book dead tree versions, a writer's agenda-laden article could get published as fact and influence the perceptions of entire generations.
As a example of its colossal usefulness, here's a list of my most recent Wikipedia searches, all of which yielded a fact-filled result in nanoseconds:
- Billy Joe Hargis
- Battle of Thermopylae
- Population bomb
- Scion (the car)
- Viet Nam
- Wells Fargo
Moral(s) of the story:
a. Wikepedia is everything World Book wanted to be
b. I would not want to be a door-to-door encylopedia salesman today.
c. Those plastic sheet overlays of the human body are still way cool.