December 22, 2007


I love wikipedia and I use it a lot. Although I haven't felt the urge yet, I am likely to submit an article of myself to wikipedia. I use wikipedia to find definitions for terms that I use in documents that I write, and I regularly refer to wikipedia from my blog. I have never doubted the correctness of the articles. Sure, I can see the differences in quality of the articles, but the explanations of the terms that I look up are always useful.

Google is launching another wiki based encyclopedia named "Knol" (short for knowledge). My first thought when I heard this news was: "Huh? do we need another wikipedia?". Google wants Knol to be a true wiki. Anyone can submit knols and edit any knol at any time. All editorial responsibilities and control will rest with the authors. In other words: Knol will rely on the care and precision of the knowledge communities. Google will not edit or screen submitted knols.

I am positive that Knol will work. All maliciousness will be muffled by the sheer size of the community. Isn't it amazing that this principle of complete anarchism will probably work if the community is large enough?

Suppose we would apply this to the civil and penal codes of a country that has a sufficient community of inhabitants that are actively involved in submitting and editing the laws in an online law book: the Lawiki. Would the submitted laws be fair to everyone automatically? Would all egoistic laws be muffled by the sheer size of the community? It makes you wonder, doesn't it?