I find this both astonishing and inevitable: From Corante’s Many2Many blog I learn that Microsoft is stealing a page from Wikipedia. It’s making some of the articles in its Encarta dictionary (which is a very profitable enterprise) open for editing.
What’s astonishing is that this happened so fast. Predictably, some people are crying out that it’s a Wikipedia rip-off. But that’s not really the point. Just because Columbus got to the New World first doesn’t mean nobody else should make the trip. I actually give some credit to Microsoft for having the cojones to jump into this format. For its part, Encyclopedia Britannica (er… Encyclopaedia Britannica) would rather fly into the side of a mountain than admit this is a reasonable practice.
What’s inevitable here is the new process: learning from your readers is the coming thing, and to avoid it solely because of its zany Wikipedia legacy is foolish and ultimately self-destructive. This is the way content is going to work in the future, and I credit Encarta for seeing that coming.