Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The demise of Encarta, and wikipedia, whither?

Naomi Alderman wrote of the demise of Microsoft's Encarta:

Wikipedia is not Encarta. The unanswerable force of the market has shown that most of us prefer a free and infinitely expandable source of knowledge, even if it's somewhat rough in patches, to a manicured, guarded encyclopedia we have to pay for. And if we can bear the difference in mind, and understand that it's our responsibility to maintain it, the commons may not end so tragically after all.

Yes, information wants to be free, but what about "you get what you pay for"?

IPFinance invoked Clayton Christensen:

I have two related observations in connection with the demise of Encarta. The first is that Clayton Christensen's famous "The Innovator's Dilemma," as described in his landmark book of that name, is at least partially germane. As Christensen noted recently in a Harvard Business School podcast, his notion is based on a product that is blind-sided by a cheaper and more efficient alternative, for which the incumbent is unwilling, or unable, to match, given the nature of is product and the corporate culture in which the incumbent's product is embedded. Here, the decline in cost and increased efficiency came about by the rise of the Wikipedia movement, where royalty payments for contents became a thing of the past due to the royalty-free, collaborative nature of the content providers as well as the sheer scope and ease of both search and content update, all of which left Encarta far back in its wake.

Was Christensen thinking about a world of amateurs, as in peer-to-patent?

In turn, Peter Vogel asks Is Wikipedia finished? and writes:

Speculation that Wikipedia has run out of ideas is an amusing headline. It’s hard to believe that in 8 years Wikipedia has more than 2.8 million English articles since the Encyclopedia Britannica started in 1768 and has about 250,000 articles. Wikipedia’s growth is quite astonishing since in March 2006 (three years ago) the 1 millionth English article milestone was reached! Today Wikipedia has more than 75,000 active contributors who write the articles in 260 languages with more than 684 million visitors a year. Because of Wikipedia’s dominating success, even Microsoft just announced it is withdrawing its encyclopedia Encarta (with 42,000 articles).

LBE finds Wikipedia useful for finding text to explain something not understood by someone else to the someone else.
It is a replacement for the encyclopedia for the elementary schooler writing a report. It's not useful for any kind of in-depth analysis.

See also

And contemplate John Kanzius and burning water.


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