Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Unstructured Umlauts

If last year was the Year of the Blog, I would like to think that this year will be the Year of the Wiki. A wiki is essentially like any other web page with one crucial difference: anyone can edit the pages.

It's one of those things that sounds like it really ought to not work but actually does work surprisingly well. The most famous wiki is, of course, Wikipedia which is an on-line encyclopedia that's actually giving such well established brands as Britannica a run for their money (although the editors of established encyclopedias have made a point of contemptuously dismissing the challenge — with just a bit too much protest).

Todays link is to a flash documentary of how a particular Wikipedia page evolved, that being Jon Udell's Heavy Metal Umlaut: The Movie. Although the topic of the heavy metal umlaut is a bit silly, the history of the page is actually a marvelous example of how Wikipedia pages grown via collaboration and how, in particular, they resist spurious and vandelous edits.

As a final note, the Wikipedia entry for the heavy metal umlaut has already been updated to include Jon Udell's analysis as an external link.

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