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Friday, August 29, 2014

Community-Edited Databases - Libraries of the Internet?

So, first off, I have to say that - as a kid - I used to be the person who could be called a bookworm. I was reading all kinds of books all day long if you'd let me. Apparently, I even spent a large part of one of my birthday parties sitting under the table reading a book while the guests were out playing in the garden. Yes, I'm pretty weird. :)

So, I really like libraries - I spent a good deal of time reading their books. Then, the Internet came, and I was a child in a family of early-adopters - so I actually had access to the Internet. I was amazed and captivated.

Today I'm still amazed - and today I want to tell you about my take on community-edited databases. In some regard, they remind me of libraries: They categorize, they catalogue, they provide links, pointers and information. Similar to the monastery-dwelling scholars of old times, we now have people on the web who - on their own free accord - take up these important and useful tasks of bringing order into a mess of data. And I think that's amazing.

In http://mmitscotland.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/5-reasons-why-we-really-need-librarians-and-information-professionals-in-the-internet-age/, Louise Morrison argues why libaries/librarians are still needed, even with the Internet. I can't but agree with her.

Why is it that Wikipedia or Ravelry are such huge successes? It's because they fostered a culture of responsible editorship and it's because they made clear that they will always be free to use.

Why is it that many database sites fail? It's because
  1. they failed engaging the people who feel joy and purpose in categorizing and ordering data
  2. they failed in setting up the site in such a way that their volunteers can actually contribute easily
Am I making any sense?


  1. I'm glad you're back Sabine, I love reading your thoughts :D

    1. Aww. <3 I'm still fighting a little with the aftermath of the move, but my husband is really really supportive. We now live in a really awesome place that's lacking furniture. Since I got a couch last week and Internet access this week, things start to come together again. :D