On 7/19/07, Todd Allen <toddmallen(a)gmail.com> wrote:
It doesn't particularly matter if free
replacements will be added to
those articles. "The Free Encyclopedia" means more than "free of
charge". It means, to the greatest degree possible, that it should be
free of restrictive copyright terms; free to reuse, copy, and modify as
you see fit.
View "free" and "encyclopedia" as two equally important halves of
mission. In the case of some articles, a nonfree image adds such
tremendous educational value to an article that it's worth it to use it,
though it detracts slightly from the "free" aspect. But what, I wonder,
do you learn about Wal-Mart from seeing their logo? About your average
album or book from seeing what the cover looks like? By using thousands
of these images, we're taking away greatly from the "free" aspect of our
mission, and adding marginally if at all to the "encyclopedia" part.
I'm sorry, but the additional value provided by visual identifiers
such as logos and album cover art is significant.
Human learning and memory processes are significantly keyed by such
visual content, and it makes it much more enjoyable to read.
The entire reason that the Web took off in the early 90s and that
Archie/Gopher/Veronica/WAIS/etc hadn't was visual content on web
pages. They became accessable to "normal people" because they weren't
just reading, they were seeing.
The visual design of Mediawiki and the existing projects is acutely
aware of this. Pretending that this isn't a significant part of the
user experience, or a significant part of the "customer value", is
-george william herbert