Monday, March 23, 2009

Is Encylopedia Britannica a Wikipedia Wannabe?

Do you think Encyclopedia Britannica can do what Wikipedia has done? I guess they are going to try, but I admit, I am a bit skeptical. When I first skimmed over a post in the AppScout blog, I was intrigued, even a little excited. I thought this was a great idea, for EB to adapt to a new way of learning and free information – very altruistic of them, in fact. But, then, I started to think about it and read some of the comments made on the post, especially the ones made by Tom from Britannica. I love that there is always another side to “things.” And, there is absolutely another side to this thing.

From what I can understand EB has created an online version to which users/readers can contribute. When folks make contributions, the EB staff will review that information and, I guess, regurgitate it online. Essentially, you submit what you have to offer, and they decide if it is worthy and correct – they edit it. At least I think I get the process, according to Tom from Britannica. Again, it sounds great to me at first, but the more I think about it, I’m a little disappointed by what they are offering. If I feel I am expert enough to contribute to a page or topic, do I really want them editing my contribution? What if they missed my point? Will they ask ME if what they are publishing is in line with my thoughts – true? How is this really a contribution from me if they make all the decisions?

And another thing . . . I don’t believe EB is free. That’s not very “Wikipedia like.” What’s wrong with EB just being EB? How financially necessary is it for them to compete with Wikipedia? Hang on . . . Who thinks it is totally bizarre that I am suggesting Encyclopedia Britannica is competing with Wikispaces out of financial desperation?

So, what do you think? Will EB’s answer to Wikispaces keep them relevant?

Just sayin’
Lee Anne