Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

How 9/11 turned a new site called Wikipedia into history’s crowdsourced front page

Fast Company: “The volunteers who documented the attacks on the fledgling site were also laying a foundation for its future… had only been launched nine months earlier by a digital ad entrepreneur named Jimmy Wales and a graduate student in philosophy named Larry Sanger. By July, hundreds of visitors were arriving a day, many brought by links that appeared on Slashdot and Kuro5hin and in the results of a new, fast-growing search engine called Google. Many articles were short, amateurish, questionable. But there were a lot of them, and by the start of September, Wikipedia already boasted versions in French, German, Catalan, Swedish, and Italian, and some 10,000 articles in English. On the morning of September 11, its prospects as a long-term project were far from certain. But as the attacks exposed the weaknesses of America’s 21st century communications, with cell phone networks struggling, first responders’ radios failing, and the world wide web slowing to a crawl, Wikipedia managed to hold up—mostly. At some point, a link to Wikipedia’s 9/11 page appeared on Yahoo’s popular news portal. Traffic began to spike…Whatever you think of it, if you’re online, Wikipedia is now almost impossible to avoid. It’s a modern wonder, a monument to collective sense-making, a bizarre counterexample to the rest of the internet. With over 1 billion visitors a month, it now sits just behind in terms of traffic. Google, the most visited website, depends on Wikipedia for its Knowledge Graph, while YouTube and Facebook help users detect fake news by suggesting links to Wikipedia articles. (Lately, the “September 11 attacks” page makes regular appearances.) There are now over 300 non-English editions, a dozen spin-off Wikimedia projects, and thousands of volunteer-run WikiProjects…”

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.