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The Wikipedia Revolution: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World's Greatest Encyclopediaby Andrew Lih
Synopses & Reviews
"Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing."
With more than 2,000,000 individual articles on everything from Aa! (a Japanese pop group) to Zzyzx, California, written by an army of volunteer contributors, Wikipedia is the #8 site on the World Wide Web. Created (and corrected) by anyone with access to a computer, this impressive assemblage of knowledge is growing at an astonishing rate of more than 30,000,000 words a month. Now for the first time, a Wikipedia insider tells the story of how it all happened--from the first glimmer of an idea to the global phenomenon it's become.
Andrew Lih has been an administrator (a trusted user who is granted access to technical features) at Wikipedia for more than four years, as well as a regular host of the weekly Wikipedia podcast. In The Wikipedia Revolution, he details the site's inception in 2001, its evolution, and its remarkable growth, while also explaining its larger cultural repercussions. Wikipedia is not just a website; it's a global community of contributors who have banded together out of a shared passion for making knowledge free.
Featuring a Foreword by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and an Afterword that is itself a Wikipedia creation.
"Since Wikipedia was launched online in 2001 as 'the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit,' it has blossomed to more than a billion words spread over 10 million articles in 250 languages, including 2.5 million articles in English, according to Wikipedia cofounder Wales in the foreword. Lih, a Beijing-based commentator on new media and technology for NPR and CNN, researched Wikipedia and collaborative journalism as a University of Hong Kong academic, and he has been a participating 'Wikipedian' himself for the past five years. He notes the site has 'invigorated and disrupted the world of encyclopedias... yet only a fraction of the public who use Wikipedia realize it is entirely created by legions of unpaid and often unidentified volunteers.' Other books have surfaced (How Wikipedia Works; Wikinomics), but Lih's authoritative approach covers much more, from the influence of Ayn Rand on Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales and the 'burnout and stress' of highly active volunteer editor-writers to controversies, credibility crises and vandalism. Wales's more traditional earlier encyclopedia, the peer-reviewed Nupedia, began to fade after he saw how Ward Cunningham's software invention, Wiki (Hawaiian for 'quick'), could generate collaborative editing. Tracing Wikipedia's evolution and expansion to international editions, Lih views the encyclopedia as a 'global community of passionate scribes,' attributing its success to a policy of openness which is 'not so much technical phenomenon as social phenomenon.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
I recently read a magazine article that mentioned Nikola Tesla as if everyone knew his accomplishments. I didn't, so I threw his name into a search engine. A Wikipedia entry came up first. Fifteen minutes later I had a much better idea of his inventions. As media critic Andrew Lih explains, Wikipedia has become one of the 10 highest-traffic sites on the Internet based on a pretty... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) crazy idea: Rather than use experts, create an encyclopedia written and edited by anybody who wanders by. Every entry has an "edit this page" tab that you can click on without registering or signing in or getting any permission, and your update appears instantly. Consumers who just browse entries may be oblivious to the fanatical volunteers who write, edit, patrol for vandalism and argue vehemently with each other. Lih tells of the 2002 "Spanish Fork," a revolt by members who started their own version, Enciclopedia Libre, over a mere hint that Wikipedia might carry advertisements. I learned from Lih to check out the "Discussion" pages. They show what grade articles have been given by the vote of members. That article on Tesla, for instance, is "B-class," not quite up to the "Good" standard. Reviewed by Dan Keating, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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A Wikipedia expert tells the inside story of the trailblazing--and incrediblypopular--open source encyclopedia.
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