Gone are the days of families having beautiful leather bound encyclopaedias set out on a book shelf that would be the main point of reference when a question needed answering, or you were needing to do a bit or research for a school project. We have a set of encyclopaedias, as well as a children’s set, that Dave invested in back in the late 80’s / early 90’s that are now packed away in cardboard boxes in the garage. When I say invested I do mean invested too, as back then they cost an arm and a leg and I don’t even think the kids have ever seen them.
I finished my university education back in 1996 (showing my age a bit) but interestingly when I started Uni in 1993 this was the first time I had switched on a proper PC and nearly died when the tutor set out the criteria for our first assessment that it had to be word processed and double spaced. I still remember that daunting day in the computer lab surrounded by PC’s and having to figure out what the hell I was doing, and now computers and the internet are such as massive part of my life. On the flip side of that my eldest son is 10 and he has been surrounded by computers all his life and has Wiki embedded in his brain as “the” place to go to if he wants to know something. I kind of wish I had the internet and Wiki when I was at school instead of having to spend hours in the library trawling through reference books, or worse, going to the library only to find that the last copy of the book you needed had already been borrowed.
There was an interesting article on the BBC yesterday that reminded me that Wiki is still a non-profit organisation that still relies on contributors to keep it up to date, all 17 million articles. They mention that they are creating a new interface which will make editing the site easier for non geeky people which sounds cool, but I’m not sure if I would ever feel like I could contribute to the site. (I’ll perhaps have to give it a go one day and create a page on Dave :))
I was also surprised to learn that they raised $16m or £10m recently in their latest fundraising efforts on the site which is really great but they still have to cope with visitor numbers in excess of 400 million. I can’t imagine how much they are paying for servers and bandwidth!
I wonder what the next 10 years hold for Wiki as I can’t imagine any site being able to rival their size or reputation. I kind of think though with everything in this world that there will probably be a swoop to buy the site, it will then be monetarised, and then it will die as users get bombarded with adverts or subscription charges and then contributors move away to the next generation site. Who knows… but well done on the last 10 years.