A World Without Wikipedia?
The ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’, more commonly known as SOPA, and the ‘Protect IP Act’, more commonly known as PIPA, are two proposed US legislations that caused such a ruckus that on January 18th 2012, Wikipedia took a stand and blacked out its English encyclopedia for 24 hours as a sign of protest.
Wikipedia’s founders took this drastic measure because SOPA and PIPA are endangering the very essence of what made Wikipedia what it is today. Wikipedia’s content, as we all know, is completely free to use for anyone having access to the Internet, and based on information obtained from third-party websites that, as SOPA suggests, may infringe copyright laws.
These proposed legislations would not only threaten Wikipedia’s existence, but also the Internet as we know it today. The Web 2.0 really represents an entire new way of using the Internet; a user-generated experience that allows all – anywhere and at anytime – to share content like never before. The example set by Wikipedia was followed by other websites based on user-generated content, such as Reddit, Mozilla, and Cheezburger Network.
There are 744,572 writers that bring their contributions to Wikipedia, and they have already produced over 4 million articles written in English. They do not ask for anything in exchange of their work, and they offer their contribution completely free of charge. Simple calculations show that if every article in Wikipedia would have at least 500 words, they would gather up to 40,000 novels worth of content, a veritable world library – completely free of charge.
Back in 2005, the British Journal Nature announced that the articles found on Wikipedia were as accurate as the information published by Encyclopedia Britannica. While using Encyclopedia Britannica online costs 69.95USD yearly, using Wikipedia costs absolutely nothing, and these findings are confirmed to this day.
Without the freedom of content and information, the world will very likely become less informed and less knowledgeable, or at the very least have much less possibilities to seek and access information. Having a free library, where all of the world’s knowledge is made available and accessibly, would become history.
Just image a world without Wikipedia… Is that where we want to head towards? Wikipedia is but only one of the many other websites based on user-generated-based and freely accessible via the Internet. As a result of this user-generated cluster of information, the Internet virtually encloses the sum of all knowledge, accessible by all, available to all, at anytime, from anywhere, and for virtually no cost at all. This is something that cannot be lost, at all costs.