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
- they failed engaging the people who feel joy and purpose in categorizing and ordering data
- they failed in setting up the site in such a way that their volunteers can actually contribute easily