Wikipedia And The Death Of The Expert | The Awl

Wikipedia has three main advantages over its print ancestors:

1. Wikipedia offers far richer, more comprehensive citations to source materials and bibliographies on- and offline, thereby providing a far better entry point for serious study;

2. It is instantly responsive to new developments;

3. Most significantly, users can “look under the hood” of Wikipedia in order to investigate the controversial or doubtful aspects of any given subject. I refer to the magical “History” button that appears in the top right corner of any Wikipedia page. Click this, and you will have instantaneous access to everything that has ever been written on the Wikipedia page in question. (In rare cases, i.e., during an edit war, a Wikipedia administrator may remove material, but this almost never happens.) The course of long and intricately involved disputations may thus come instantly to light. Of course, a load of dimwitted yelling and general codswallop may also emerge, but let’s face it, the same thing happens with any given stack of books in the library, only in more formal, less convenient packaging.

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