Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A standing army is waiting for orders

When authors wax poetic on the wonders of Wikipedia, they often gush about the ability for just anyone to alter any of its pages within. But to me, that's not the wonder of Wikipedia. What makes Wikipedia so wonderful is not that you, the reader, can easily add a big, fat whopping lie to one of its encyclopedic entries but the fact that more likely than not, your big fat whopping lie will be made to quickly evaporate by one of its many nameless volunteer editors. So when there is a ripple of applause in the blogosphere because someone in libraryland created a wiki, I am frequently unimpressed. Technology is easy. Creating a community that actively contributes and edits content (and comedy) is hard.

Now don't get me wrong. I love Wikipedia. I love the fact that it is not-for-profit and ad-free. I love that it strives for a universal (and multilingual!) access to information for self-education. And while Wikipedia may not do the best job in capturing all facets of all disciplines (like history), it unto itself, captures a history of the present moment where you can see the ideas of the day negotiated in public. I think all librarians would be testifying their love to Wikipedia if it wasn't for that tricky matter of authorship. And so our massive free-standing army of fact-checkers and citation chasers stands idly by.

Imagine if you will if there was a project like Wikipedia that *did* activate just even a fraction of the world's librarians to take up the cause and actively contribute on a regular basis. I do. I dream of a digitization project (untainted by corporate interests) that librarians happily tag away at, in their spare moments. I imagine government document librarians, going above and beyond mere data liberation and moving to liberation of a broader sort.

We have a community of librarians. We can rebuild. We have the technology.

2 comments:

Joe King Gas-Eyed said...

How true. How very, very true ("Technology is easy. Creating a community... is hard.")

You know, what struck me as very odd is the almost total lack of commments on your blog (which I bookmarked immediatly). I was seaching for bloggers based in Winsdor when I stumpled on yours. I got a double treat, since I'm very partial to librarians (and book lovers in general).

Mita said...

Thanks for the kind words. I couldn't tell you why there is a lack of comments. Perhaps it is due to a lack of readers ;)