UKSG write-up: "The Wikipedia Problem"
"The Wikipedia Problem" is a quote taken from Clifford Guren (Microsoft)'s opening of plenary one, where new Microsoft products which seemed in direct competition with established ones from Google were showcased and discussed within the framework of internet use statistics and comment.
Several statistics of interest emerged:
- 25% of internet users contribute the largest share of internet search revenue. These were described as the 'internet optimisers'
- 87% of internet users carry out research on scientific topics; and the internet is the most popular place for young adults to find information on science
- 75% of internet users report they do not check the source or the date of health information on the internet. So there is no examination of the quality or accuracy
- 21% of faculty professors feel that search engines understand their queries ... and 10% find what they want on a first search attempt
- BUT ...
- Only 5% of all the information available in the world is available online
If the above are accurate there is much food for thought for the information world. We need to ensure that our libraries are not populated by customers who think that knowledge begins and ends with what is on their computer screens.
This is where the "Wikipedia problem" may be a contributory factor. Open to any internet users to start a topic or amend an existing one, it has some 280,000 current volunteers contributors and is the 6th most popular site on the internet.
Guren argued that the needs of 'Generation Next' (the heavy users of technology, text and IMs rather than email, heavy users of social networks) will have a major impact on information delivery.
This would be a major theme running through many presentations at the 30th UKSG.
He finished by quoting the poem by Kay Ryan, "We're Building The Ship As We Sail It". The text of this poem can be found at http://journals.enotes.com/poetry-journals/146693070. (Incidentally, Microsoft's Live Search found the contents page this poem is in, but not the poem itself - Google found both).