I frequently get negative reactions for writing critically about Wikipedia. I'm not even talking about the Kool-Aid poisoned True Believers, who can't grasp how someone could not love the wonderful wiki-world which has provided them purpose in life. Rather, net-activist friends have suggested my efforts are misdirected. And there's others who argue I'm simply too harsh.
Today I received a promotional postcard for Jonathan Zittrain's new book The Future of the Internet - And How to Stop It. This was obviously a targeted marketing mailing from the publisher (from the format of my address). I've in fact been thinking about the ideas for a while.
The postcard has three people blurbing the book. The first is a very high status law professor. The third is the "Executive Chairman and Founder of the World Economic Forum". And the second is ... "Jimbo Wales, Founder, Wikipedia" (not CO-founder, Wikipedia), who says:
Jonathan Zittrain does what no one has before -- he eloquently and subtly pinpoints the magic that makes Wikipedia, and the Internet as a whole, work. The best way to save the Internet is to turn off your laptop until you've read this book.
This sort of hype is why I think the cult of Wikipedia needs some deprogrammers. The "magic that makes Wikipedia" strikes me as more like a sweatshop than Santa's workshop. To me, it represents much that's wrong with the future of the Internet, in terms of the promotion of a model of masses of powerless people working for free while a tiny, tiny, elite makes out like bandits.
This puts me at odds with certain groups, where cheerleading Wikipedia is part of the game. But much of my writing is against lottery-like systems anyway, and I often argue against playing a game where almost everyone loses.By Seth Finkelstein | posted in wikipedia | on April 18, 2008 08:46 PM (Infothought permalink)