1. I just had a short chat with [[Erik Orsenna]], a
member of the
[[Académie française]] who "loves to learn and pass along knowledge".
He's also interested in the adventure of knowledge and in the democratic
processes and appreciate being able to tap into the knowledge of the
five french Académies he has access to.
I asked him if he was aware of Wikipedia and of its participative
nature. He did.
I asked him why the Academicians didn't participate more and share their
knowledge on it.
He said that they have no time, that they're busy writing their books.
This is completely understandable. They're working where they feel most
comfortable. It's not a criticism of Wikipedia. We should not take our
inability to draw in more of these people as a failure.
2. In parallel, I had several conversations with
showing their reticence, distrust or hostility about the free
encyclopedia. They discredit the articles when speaking to their students.
Mostly through ignorance, and an inability to view Wikipedia articles in
a clear perspective. It will still take years to overcome this, and for
them to recognize the place of Wikipedia in the learning chain.
3. High level physicists also stay away from it. (for
example most of
the theoretical information about [[quasars]] comes from the 1960's.
Current information on the net is frequently only available through
The pay-to-read sites are contrary to the notion that copyright is there
"to promote the useful arts." Universities can subscribe because they
can spread the cost over an entire student body; this is generally
impossible at the level of the individual. If he subscribes to the most
important journals in his field it will not be practical for him to
subscribe to publications of secondary interest to which he will only
occasionally need to refer. The amateur working from his home computer
is, by virtue of intellectual property laws, relegated to using obsolete
material for his writing.
It seems that the traditional way of handling knowledge is treating it
as a good, that is, a resource with a monetary value and ownership.
One invests money, time and efforts to obtain it. People who made a
career out of it want to recover their costs and make benefits out of
it. Some like the prestige of their exclusive knowledge or the authority
Prestige aside, the commodification of knowledge hinders its growth.
There are expenses connected with generating knowledge. Amateurs support
their research by having an outside real job. The economic model that
will sustain the free market of ideas has yet to be developed.
A. Some feel threatened by the wikipedia model. They don't want it to
succeed. They perceive it would question their role, their power and
their way of earning money.
Just like mediæval guilds!