Wikipedia grows like Topsy

Here’s an article from the Guardian by Ben Hammersley about the ever-growing Wikipedia: Guardian Unlimited | Common knowledge. The Wikipedia, you will recall, is an experiment from the wild edges of the informational commons. Change any page you want. Add any section you want. I fixed a typo on the Guy Fawkes page. It was very satisfying. The Wikipedia has been such a hit, that they’ve launched a Wiktionary to go with it. What next? I think a WikiBible (too late!) or some other such bric-a-brac sacred text would be excellent. There is no distinction between the sacred and the profane in the land of Wiki.

Incidentally, have you ever wondered where the phrase “grow like Topsy” comes from? It derives from the character Topsy in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The Merriam-Webster site has a nice description as part of its Word for the Wise site. To grow like Topsy is to grow “wild, with neither plan, structure, nor direction.”

Incidentally, have you ever wondered if incidental remarks like the preceding ones are going to vanish into the Googlesphere? Behind the guise of clever instruction, all I did was report the results of a Google search on an unfamiliar phrase. You could have done the same thing. Why did I bother? Does a be-googled, wiki-fied world stifle conversation or promote it? Does the net bring us closer together or send us farther apart? I’m fairly certain it doesn’t stop me from rambling.