“Wiki, c’est fini?” one would ask (if one was a cheesy French singer from the 1960s). More seriously, is the dream of an open access encyclopedia over? According to a recent article published in the Chronicle of Higher Education the wiki model has “run out of steam“. Don’t worry, the article is not a trite invective insisting that Wikipedia is not reliable because the author of the article on Platonism is also the author of the one on Desperate Housewives. The message here is mainly that the participatory knowledge base model turns out to be a utopian dream (at best). As of today, Wikipedia is mainly just another social network service (with its profiles, friend counts and online grooming rituals) – and not a very performing one, either.
But this is not the worst part. I’m more concerned with Wikipedia losing its liberal street cred and becoming yet another ivory-towering knowledge institution, with its coercing ontologies and its bigbrotheresque rules. If, in the current intellectual debate over scientific authority, we’re actually fighting the academic equivalent of Star Wars, last thing we need here is to discover that the rebel HQ Coruscant has been replaced by the Death Star.