Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2005-02-21/Wired feature

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Jimmy Wales misses out on Rave Award, settles for magazine article instead

By Michael Snow, 21 February 2005

The March 2005 issue of Wired Magazine hit newsstands last week with a lengthy article about Jimmy Wales and Wikipedia. The magazine also announced the winners of its Rave Awards, but Wales, who had been nominated, was not among them.

The article, written by Daniel H. Pink, was entitled "The Book Stops Here"[1], and a line on the magazine cover billed it as "Wikipedia: The self-organizing library of the future". It mixes brief sketches (both verbal and visual) of individual Wikipedians with a discussion of the project's history, objectives, and challenges.

Pink discusses a variety of Wikipedia phenomena in the article. He describes Wikipediholism as a four-step process: a chance encounter with the site, followed by curiosity, experimentation, and finally addiction. Also considered is the "power pyramid" of Wikipedians, with "God-King" Jimbo at the top, which he paints as an evolutionary response to the problems caused by "those who have difficulty playing well with others."

Also included is an analysis of how Wikipedia compares to other models for creating an encyclopedia. Pink slots in Wikipedia as a new model, following the classical model in which encyclopedias are written by great minds, and the more managed and organized system used by Encyclopædia Britannica and other modern examples. As he puts it, this model creates something "alive" rather than something "finished". He wraps up the article with some passages quoted from former Britannica editor Charles Van Doren, who says, "the ideal encyclopedia should be radical."

Part of Pink's research for the article was conducted at the Wikipedia Meetup in New York City on December 12 of last year. Out of the Wikipedians who were specifically mentioned in the article, four besides Wales attended the meetup — Danny, Ram-Man, Raul654, and Angela. Pink did feature a few additional users, including Carptrash, Bryan Derksen, Kingturtle, and Lord Emsworth, and also contacted Larry Sanger for his input.

Commenting on the piece, Sj gave it a generally positive review but said, "The one glaring omission in the article is an acknowledgement of the project's unparalleled multilinguality." Only one sentence mentions it, and its initial words, "Tack on... [other languages]", reflect how the subject is being treated in the article. One can also observe that of the Wikipedians mentioned, all are residents of North America but for Angela (along with Solitude and Ahoerstemeier, who get the briefest of mentions for reverting vandalism to Islam back on 17 November 2004 - though Pink doesn't specify the date).

Rave Award winners revealed

Also included in this issue were the winners of Wired's annual Rave Awards. Wales had been nominated for one of these awards in the Tech Innovator category (see archived story), but did not end up getting it. The winner of the award for the category was Mark Fletcher, CEO of the news aggregator website Bloglines. Apparently, not having a Wikipedia article about himself or his company was not an insurmountable handicap.

The nominees in this category also changed midway through the process, as Scott Maccabe, vice president and general manager of Toshiba's Storage Device Division, replaced Bill Healy, a senior vice president of product strategy and marketing at Hitachi Global Storage Technology, as the person associated with the microdrive. It seems that perhaps Wired decided it made little sense to give a marketing guy credit for innovation in technology.