17 November 2011

The future of Wikipedia and the next year for myself

It's been a couple of years that Wikipedia remains one of the world's most-read websites, but stagnates in growth and doesn't offer any really new and exciting features. One of things that I had expected to boost Wikipedia's evolution was a more easy-to-use (read: WYSIWYG) editor and more support for writing articles on specialized subjects. Writing an article about a movie or about a chemical compound or a person's biography are all fundamentally different things and although Wikipedia has subcultures for many specialized domains (and portals and mentors) the software and interface for all those domains remains the same. Since all the knowledge is in the community, not the software, Wikipedia is at a disadvantage compared to other places on the web.

As an aside compare how Facebook encodes their domain knowledge in software: there's only a limited number of romantic relationship types that one can choose and one can only select one single to be in a relationship with. That's a really easy user interface! (Of course, it discriminates against polyamorous people, but Wikipedia would of course offer such settings in a biography interface. ;-) 

A good example for a knowledge-sharing website with goals that overlap Wikipedia's is stackexchange.com which combines Q&A with Wikis and uses many encoded-in-software practices to shepherd its users into creating an ever-better site and ever-better community. Another example would be the Google Places semi-wiki which offer's shop addresses, opening hours, and reviews directly integrated into Google Maps.

But the example that currently takes most of my attention is Google SketchUp with its 3D Warehouse of reusable models. When I started dreaming to redesign some of my favorite subway stations on the computer, I just has wished that such a thing existed. Well, in fact, it existed already, I just didn't know about it. Well, now all I need is to install Windows on my computer (so I can run SketchUp) and also buy a computer mouse.

I just hope that I will have enuf time and calm (meaning not be too exhausted from work) to take up this new hobby!

PS: What I want is to create 3D models as complete as this drawing from London, but for stations in Berlin in Paris.
For the interested: More from London. And even more.

Here's a nice picture from Paris, too:


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