Hard Look at a Wiki

10 October, 2007


While I was doing research I got to thinking… 

I use the mainstream Wikipedia all the time usually to grab a quickwikipedia puzzle planet background on a particular topic, often with a bit of reluctance and critical thinking. My point is that as commonplace an internet tool as Wikipedia has become we have devolved its importance. Our simple research tool is really a robust and flexible semantic construct.

Behind the WIKI Wall

When I look at Wikipedia I really only register what appears to be a rigid template into which the universe–in encyclopedic form– is currently being poured. But here I crossover into my other blog, Next Big, where I flounder in topics related to semantic search and next gen Internet or Web 2.0, 3.0, et al. Here is where the term “wiki” becomes much more a mouthful; like a glass car into which we can see all the cogs and belts cranking and spinning and the gas and oil churning.

Why wiki models make human computers of us

Humanoid cluster computing is pretty much what Wikipedia has become. According to its About page, Wiki counts over 5 million articles in “over 100 languages” and millions of editors, commentators, and contributors. What makes the Wiki format so syntactically part of computational linguistics is its preponderance of granular disambiguations, a layer upon layer–a honeyed Baklava– of phrases, and meaning. For example, the topic, Linguistics, leads to discrete wormholes into other more mystical linguistic realms, such as phonetics (which leads to auditory phonetics, Sanskrit, and acoustics), context-free grammar (which leads to a planetary solar system of computational terms: compilers, parsers, and Tamil poetry), and lexical semantics (leading to synonymy, hypernymy, and lexical chain).

Open source collaboration

Beyond the “article” tab are discussion, edit this page, and history. The information on those tabs is less accessible for most users who visit to retrieve information for a history paper, or gather background/historical info on a particular topic (like me). However “edit this page” often leads to an editing pane in which anyone can add content on the given topic; this is really the standard feature of a wiki, a “quick” (hawaiian) and dirty web collaboration tool, a kind of open source model.

Next time you’re on a wiki, take a closer look, and maybe share a nugget of knowledge.

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