Information is all around us. It's on TV, in newspapers, and on the internet. In fact, information is in every part of our lives. Up until recently, most of the information around us was created by strangers. Not necessarily people we don't know personally, but people whose intentions we don't know. Big companies created and spread information for profit, power, and influence.
But in the 21st century, and thanks to the technologies on the internet, we now have a greater control over what information we're exposed to. Not only can we choose information that's more accurate, but we can also find information related to our own interests. In a way, we avoid information created by strangers, and gravitate towards information created by people similar to us in their beliefs or ideas.
But the internet has done more than just bring us more sources of information. Today, we too are creators of information. Web 2.0 technologies allow us to add our own voices to the information being created and spread online. Through a customizable and user-editable website called a Wiki, people can share ideas and information to help produce information that's more accurate, current, and reliable.
What is a Wiki?
A wiki is a website with information contained in articles, which can be changed and updated by any member of the user community.
To better explain the concept of the wiki, we can use as an example the most famous wiki in the world: Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a massive wiki that contains entries on millions of different topics, all created and maintained by the site's users. So site visitors can not only read the information on the site, but they can also use their own expertise to update any information that's incorrect or out of date.
Take as an example the wiki page for Barack Obama. The information contained on the page was written and updated by members of the Wikipedia community. Lots of people brought their knowledge about the president and added information to the page. Even more people brought more knowledge and updated the information to be sure it was current, relevant, and accurate.
The benefit of a wiki over a single document created by a single person is that a community has come together to create the most useful and accurate information available. Inacuracies and errors are a thing of the past when an entire group of people work on a document instead of just one person. The resulting document combines the intelligence and knowledge of everyone who worked on it, creating a new collective intelligence.
Inacuracies are weeded out by the community, making for better information for all to share and use. As time goes on and more people add their knowledge, the information becomes more accurate. No one person has the power to add inaccurate information and hope it slips by as true. The community makes sure of that.
In addition, a wiki is an ever-evolving document. As new information becomes available, the document is updated by the community. While a book or printed article has a finite date of publication, wikis are never final, as they indefinitely extend their usefulness and relevance. In effect, a wiki never becomes obsolete - it simply changes with new information. It's a living document that never gets old.