On Fri, Sep 16, 2011 at 12:01 PM,
I think that the phrase meaning refered to
Wikipedia is "the sum of all
human knowledge which is notable and encyclopedic".
Not ALL, ALL, ALL human knowledge. MySpace discarded.
When you look back to when
that quote was issued (at least 2004), I
think I tend to see it as broader and more aspirational. Wikipedia
was already the biggest project, but we still imagined ourselves
making a statement with Wikinews and Wiktionary and everything else.
Back in the day, I can certainly imagine Wikimedia wanting to
encompass all forms of human knowledge, including projects going far
beyond the confines of what we now see as notable and encyclopedic.
We have retreated from that quite a lot. Even within Wikipedia our
notions of what was acceptable and what was not were far more fluid.
The projects have accomplished an incredible amount, and we should all
be very proud and amazed at what we have done. However, I do think we
have lost some of that early dream. Back in the day, it was easy to
imagine that we would eventually encompass all human knowledge, and
now we tend to draw our goals more narrowly. In part, I think our
perceptions of that famous quote have been evolving alongside our
perceptions of what Wikimedia and Wikipedia have become.
Strictly speaking, "the sum of" is a redundancy, but its English
idiomatic use tends to emphasize comprehensiveness. For those of us who
saw the dream earlier on being "notable and encyclopedic" was never part
of the dream, and still isn't. A literal interpretation of "the sum of
all human knowledge" is still impossible; it's simply too big and
constantly growing. It still warns us to avoid restrictive
preconceptions about what is notable and encyclopedic.