There’s a new search in Internet Town called WikiSeek that is creating a search within Wikipedia and sites linked to by Wikipedia. It’s an excellent idea though I’m not clear it’ll lead to better results than a normal search engine query. Wikipedia is generally better than the snail paced DMOZ at reflecting “related sites”, but like DMOZ the politics and anti-commercial concerns of Wikipedia often get in the way of good articles. Wikipedia is notoriously sparse when listing “related” sites. Like many open source driven projects there is a “NO COMMERCIALIZATION WHATSOEVER” bias that gets in the way of providing the best available information which is increasingly found on commercial sites and blogs, which are not treated favorably enough by DMOZ or Wikipedia.
As TechCrunch noted today WikiSeek is going to get confused big-time with Jimmy Wales Wikimedia Search project which is destined to become a huge addition to the search landscape. Formerly known (well – sort of formerly known?) as the Wikiasari project and still called that by most, it’ll be a robust, community driven search that used human editing to keep out the junk and bring in the jewels rather than the algorithmic approaches taken by Google, MSN, Yahoo, Ask and most other major players. Confusing things further is the fact that projects like WikiSeek above are not primarily a Wiki, they are, wishfully, a way to work with Wikis.
I think somebody might want to clue in the Wiki crowd to the following challenge:
Few people, even total immersion code crazed onliners, are really comfortable with Wikis. Most pretend to be but when it’s time to collectively participate in a wiki I’ve *never* seen it work nearly as well as the collective results from blogs, which reward individuals with attention rather than reward the collective with information. MashupCamp1 and 2 were filled with very capable internet programmers. In fact even the *inventor* of the Wiki, Ward Cunningham, was there (he’s a great Oregonian fellow who invented the Wiki as a collaboration tool for on computer projects). Yet even in this potentially Wiki-rich environment the lack of updating of the Mashup Camp Wiki was conspicuous. Rather it was blogs, Flickr, and huge sheets of paper that kept people well informed during these intense and infoManiacal extravaganzas.
So, I think big Wiki projects like Wikipedia and the upcoming Wikimedia search have huge potential, largely because they constrain the organization of things such that the big project benefits from huge community participation.
Little bitty Wikis? Let’s just scrap them and have everybody crosslink the blogs, OK?