09 April 2007


A collaborative project like Wikipedia is an interesting phenomenon, particularly because it’s done for free. Those who contribute to Wikipedia – and other social news sites (see my previous post ‘Hidden influencers’) – do so in their own volition, without asking for a fee for their effort. None is offered to them anyway. [There are a few exceptions, like Netscape.]

In fact, on online social news sites, or for that matter, on all websites that allow user participation (e.g. amazon.com or imdb.com), contributors can be identified by their Internet names and email IDs. On Wikipedia, however, contributors remain anonymous to us.

This made me wonder. What motivates these contributors to spend their time and energy as they do? What inspires them into reading, writing, editing, updating information, posting the edited matter, exercising their judgments for the benefit of others? Are they a new breed of social workers in our Internet age?

If so, then, are they spreading a silent message within us through their work? That, authorship – or the claim to authorship – is just a matter of ego? (Besides the cash and the awards that may come one’s way.)

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