The rise of Google+, fall of Wikipedia, in As The www Turns

The Google+ story isn’t new, it’s a pretty hot topic these days.

Neither is the  Wikipedia story, PC World just wrote about their lack of contributors last week. The subject has been on writers and researchers

Wikipedia has been ripped on for some time, especially by real writers, publishers, academics, researchers and legitimate fact finders. Rightfully so, when you turn over the worlds largest “encyclopedia” to a handful of egocentric and power-hungry 26-year old, male nerds. All in the hopes of  creating the “sum of all human knowledge,” according to a founder, Jimmy Wales. Therein lies the problem, unfortunately I don’t have statistics or research to back this but I am confident that the sum of all human knowledge is not as great as the sum of accurate human knowledge.

Currently:

all human knowledge + internet ->| filtered by  26 year old male nerds |-> = Wikipedia

Wikipedia was innovative, revolutionary and is still being used by millions of people but that doesn’t mean it’s right or that it is sustainable. In the early days of the internet it was a huge land-grab and although Wikipedia was by no means an early-days site but it is an early-days or wild west company. They found an untapped and highly desirable land mass in the form of an online encyclopedia. With heroism and an altruistic vision they pushed forward allowing anyone to submit information, updates and referenced material to supplement or correct existing submissions. They didn’t sell out, conform to the norm or fold to the pressure from all of those who are trained and are real experts in the aggregation, confirmation and dissemination of information. They rode into the Wild West standing talk, strong, with millions of followers and with an agenda to change the world.

Today they still retain millions of users but even their own users scoff about the accuracy of information on the site. They still don’t have a sustainable financial plan to sustain them and should be in place to help them reform their whole  process. Their evaluation and acceptance policy brought to the forefront one of the greatest truths of the internet…it’s NOT all true.

It’s unfortunate because Wikipedia can be accurate, make money and not fold on its commitment to open-intelligence if it were run like an altruistic non-profit with the mission to maintain its existence and accuracy. The company could post ads or sponsorship on their site, with taste and in a way/area that people would expect. They could hire, just like real encyclopedia companies, expert researchers or subject-matter experts to validate information as it comes in. They could also apply and likely be approved for far more government grants by hiring a workforce that could actually have an economic impact, all over the world.

Simplified outlook:

all human knowledge + internet + sponsorship ->| filtered by paid, unbiased experts or future experts (in the form of master & undergrad research  scholarships) + standards creation, organization and advancement in innovation |->  = A reliable, global resource for all (that teachers and experts will respect).

Now, back to Google Plus, so far they are already showing signs of potential longevity.

  1. They make money and can afford to keep it going
  2. They have a religious fan base (especially by starting exclusively), it will be interesting to see what happens when the invites go away and anyone can join.
  3. They listen to the public and their “customers”
  4. The talk back – just read or watch the blog (or videos) by G+ staffers who keep you in touch with the internal workings of the software update process.
  5. They have realistic altruism – everyone knows that at some point G+ will have a more open API and system than Facebook ever will because Google rolls that way. One other thing FB has is reality, they know that even consumers realize that in order for something to stick around, it has to have money to keep the doors open.
In this day and age we all put a little more faith into Google than we should but they have managed to respect or at least acknowledge that faith by staying true to our expectations (for the most part). As with all companies that report to a bottom line and especially those companies that are governed by a stock price that is ridiculously high, the day will come when we will all have to take sides and until that day, let the Google model live and R.I.P. the Wikipedia-way (not Wikipedia, I hope they restructure and live a long and fruitful life).
The day Google folds to shareholders and starts making fewer altruistic decisions and more self-serving ones is the day you’ll see me walk away from them and move over to whoever takes their place. Maybe by then MySpace and Justin Timberlake will have figured out what we all want…a perfect balance of altruism with capitalism.

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