Information wants to be free… (or so the Web gospel reads)
Wikipedia apparently has entered the political arena, closing the site for one day to protest the SOPA bill.
What’s interesting to me is the notion that the knowledge collected by Wikipedia, freely given by volunteers spending untold hours contributing to the site, can be leveraged by the site’s owners to support their own politics.
I’m not sure if that would meet the approval of the many, varied, unpaid writers who contribute freely to Wikipedia or so-called crowdsource or “open source” platforms.
In an article titled The importance of Wikipedia published Nov 30, 2011 on opensource.com, Susan Hewitt, a 63-year old contributor to Wikipedia says
“Wikipedia is self-organizing and self-correcting,”. “There is no boss and police force, yet at this point in its development it’s perfectly clear that it works really well.” Wikipedia calls to the better angels of people’s nature, and those angels respond.
No police force, but apparently a higher power.
It’s the downside of the concept of a free web. The truth is there are powers behind the free web and they can use their power when it suits them. Now it’s free, now it’s not. Who decides? Well, we saw this week who decides.
Interestingly, a paid product, Encyclopedia Britannica, for instance, could not be so leveraged. Once you purchase it, it is yours. It can’t be removed from your home by the publishers because they don’t agree with your politics. Is that what we pay for? Ownership? Control? Privacy? Autonomy?