Unless you’ve been living under a rock on a planet in an alternate universe you’ve probably heard of, in not repeatedly used, Wikipedia. The online “encyclopedia” has become as common place as Google, we just run there to find something out. The information may not be very accurate but that doesn’t seem to phase the average “webizen” (someone that spends too much time on the Internet – I include myself in this). While doing my usual trawling on the Internet I came across an article at CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) about a German publisher that is compiling a “best of” hard copy of the German Wikipedia. You can read the whole article here.
Needless to say, I found this article rather interesting. The debate about how useful Wikipedia is has been raging for quite some time now, and there doesn’t seem to be an end insight. My personal take on the debate is that Wikipedia is a great platform to begin research but is far from the last place you should look. I do usually use the site (and must admit I have an annoying tune that goes with my trip to the site). But this made me wonder if Wikipedia has a home on the bookshelves on the non-cyber world.
The publisher (Bertelsmann AG) has a team of editors working on the tome to ensure it is accurate, which is a huge difference from what happens on the web-page. This gives some validity to the book form but I think it also takes away from what Wikipedia is. A book form also takes away other obvious features found on the site, and they are mentioned in the article so I wont go into it. So, I wonder should it be publish under the Wikipedia title or should it maybe take on another title? I also wonder how many of my readers would be interested in owning a copy of an English Wikipedia in book form? I’m not sure I would say no, but I also wouldn’t be quick to say I would jump at the chance to have a copy.
There is something rather intriguing about Wikipedia in both web form and book form. It’s hard to point out what it is exactly that draws me to the site, I think it’s the idea of the world working together to form a huge database of knowledge. The German edition of the book is going to be a collection of the entries that were most searched, which adds a third, fourth, fifth, eightieth layer of interest in the book. It’s like having a time capsule of information at the fore of today’s minds…makes me want a copy more now that I think of it. It’s definitely an interesting idea and I’m sure publishers world wide are going to be keeping a record on the sales to see if this is a band wagon they should be jumping on.
Are they looking at making this a yearly publication or is just a passing fad? Is Wikipedia here to stay in many forms? Some we may have yet to encounter? Just something to think about.