Here’s to the Cult of the Amateur (And a Happy Wiki Day To You, Sir)

January 15th, 2006 by Larry Smith

Today, January 15, is Wiki Day, also know as the fifth anniversary of Wikipedia, the peer-to-peer encyclopedia that’s more popular than the NYT and USA Today combined. Wikipedia has spawned controversies, spinoffs, and this great piece by Rachel Aviv in the Village Voice.

Ward Cunningham, the man who invented the wiki 10 years ago, says he designed it in reaction to precisely this kind of assumption: the idea, barely thought out, that ordinary people can’t be trusted. “No one has the right answers,” he says. “Honest to God, what is truth? Can you tell me what truth is? If you want infallibility, go see the pope.”

Aviv goes on to talk about Cunningham’s thoughts on Web 2.0. “If Web 1.0 was a shopping mall, this second phase is more of an ongoing conversation. … Many successful sites are community based, participatory, and free of charge (see MySpace, Craigslist, Flickr, Socialtext, Blogspot, Meetup, Dodgeball).”

Counterprogramming: The Amorality of Web 2.0, by Harvard Business Review exec editor Nick Carr, who calls all of the above, “The Cult of the Amateur.”

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