Missing The Point On Amateur Content Online

from the it's-amateur-for-a-reason dept

Nicholas Carr has a way about him: he comes up with impressive theories that sound so smart -- but which are often painfully wrong. However, he does a good job of leading you down the road to wrongness so gracefully that it seems like maybe he's right. His big splash a few years ago was over the idea that technology held no competitive advantage for anyone. The argument was that technology was becoming commoditized (something that was likely true), and therefore, any advantage was fleeting (again true, but not really the point). What he was missing was that those fleeting competitive advantages are the key these days, and simply having the technology your competitor has is quite different than really leveraging it to your advantage. Carr's making some noise again, this time complaining that an internet made up of "amateurs" is a bad thing, using Wikipedia as his straw man. Again, he so gracefully leads people down this road by stating a few things that are true, that it's easy to miss where he goes completely off the road. As with others who have trashed Wikipedia, he goes on about why you should never trust amateurs, and that the world needs "experts." While it's absolutely true that experts are important -- hell, we've based our entire business on that very concept -- what Carr and others agreeing with him seem to be (conveniently) forgetting is that amateurs and experts are not mutually exclusive. Combined, they actually create a much better solution. The experts are still necessary and useful, but the amateurs help bring out more info and raise new and important questions and ideas. The amateurs aren't "taking down" the experts -- they're just making them even more necessary. The problem is that too many experts are frightened of these amateurs, rather than looking at ways to embrace and encourage the amateurs in a productive way. Embracing the amateurs opens up new and exciting possibilities for the experts -- it lets them turn that amateur content into something much more useful and valuable than either the experts or the amateurs could have done alone.

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  1. identicon
    Bob, 25 Oct 2005 @ 1:20am


    I tend to disagree, community content really is the future. Wikipedia is better today than any other information source, published or online.

    It's also quite amusing when a self-proclaimed expert declares everyone else to be an amateur. We can be sure his credentials qualify him to be a foremost authority on any given topic, including an assessment of his own expertise. Laughable.

    Has everyone forgotten that Wikipedia is a work in progress, and will always be.. that's the beauty of it.

    Wikipedia does provide an area for the disputing of content (you can review the dispute and make up your own mind as to the truth of it). Regarding other articles, as part of the community, YOU are responsible for calling attention to errors you might find. Contribute!

    Or would you prefer an 'expert', and trust that you're not being fed a propaganda piece? Personally I'd rather trust solid community content, it irons itself out.

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