Saturday, January 07, 2006

Wiki Wiki Spoils the Tzatziki

I want to say a few words about the Wikipedia phenomenon, but first a few words about the difficulty of coming up with an good, original blog post title. (Here, clearly, I went for original over good.)

My first thought when writing about Wikipedia and the whole wiki phenomenon was to make a reference to the Will Smith version of the song "Wild Wild West", in which he repeats something which sounds a lot like "Wiki Wiki Wild." However, googling "Wiki Wiki Wild" shows me quite a number of people have thought of that reference before.

Instead, I went for the obscure. Learning that wiki comes from the Hawaiian word for "quick", I thought of a sign I had seen on my ride from the Chennai airport to my hotel.

Hurry, quick, same thing -- right? I only needed a food word to rhyme with wiki. After a while, I came up with tzatziki. See -- this blogging thing isn't as easy as you might think.

Anyway, I've recently become interested in the 'wiki' phenomenon. For those of you not familiar with it, the basic idea is a web site that anybody can edit. The most well-known one is Wikipedia, which is an on-line encyclopedia. There are other, similar, sites, such as Wikinews. The one that intrigues me the most is Wikitravel. I love travel guidebooks, but I think there's a lot to be said for the energy of web surfers in keeping things up-to-date and in detailing obscure locations.

The main beef I have with the wiki sites is that anybody can edit it. You don't generally even need an account. So if you visited the site between 6:17 and 6:19 PM on January 3rd, you saw this version of the page, which proclaimed, "He is a complete asshat."

The fact that a quick-reacting wikipedian reverted to a previous version in 2 minutes is good evidence for why Wikipedia works better than I thought it would. On the other hand, contributing to Wikipedia seems to involve a lot of patrolling for vandalism.

Because I want to learn about this new "technology", I've been playing around with Wikipedia and Wikitravel. I think the latter will hold my interest more in the long term. I have had some fun updating Wikipedia's Redskins pages, but I am not too interested in disputes about whether or not "Coach Janky Spanky" is "encycolopedic".

I'm going to try adding my 2006 travel experiences to Wikitravel. For example, last night we went to Nonna Maria's Pizza for dinner to celebrate my mother's birthday, and I added that restaurant to the skeletal Arizona page. Eventually, there may be a more specific page to move that to.

I'll probably have more to say about the wiki phenomenon in coming weeks.

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