Big Thinkers on Wikipedia’s 10th Anniversary

Wikipedia just turned 10 this week­end. And, to mark the occa­sion, The Atlantic asked ten “All-Star Thinkers” respond to a sim­ple ques­tion: “What do you think about Wikipedia?” The respons­es? Well, they express the usu­al range of opin­ions, from appre­ci­a­tion to some­thing approach­ing dis­dain. Take for exam­ple the two excerpts below:

Yochai Ben­kler, pro­fes­sor, Har­vard Law School: That’s the biggest gift that Wikipedia has giv­en to us — a vision of prac­ti­cal utopia. What gift can we best give back? Per­haps it is just this, to rec­og­nize the trans­for­ma­tive role that thou­sands of indi­vid­u­als have played for all of us in how we can imag­ine our lives togeth­er as pro­duc­tive, engaged, social beings.

Jonathan Lethem, nov­el­ist, Pomona pro­fes­sor: With all respect to the noble vol­un­teer army, I call it death by pedantry. Ques­tion: had­n’t we more or less come to under­stand that no piece of extend­ed descrip­tion of real­i­ty is free of agen­das or ide­olo­gies? This lie, which any Ency­clo­pe­dia implic­it­ly tells, is cubed by the infi­nite regress of Wikipedia tin­ker­ing-unto-medi­oc­rity.

Oth­er con­trib­u­tors include Clay Shirky, NYU jour­nal­ism prof Jay Rosen, and Mari­ette DiChristi­na (edi­tor-in-chief, Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can). Get the full list here.

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