Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wiki wiki

The name "wiki", used to describe a community-maintained content management system (Wikipedia being the most famous example), comes from the Hawaiian word for "quick". Tom Chatfield (no relation :-)) of Prospect Magazine makes this observation about how fast Wikipedia gets updated (hat tip Andrew):
Ever wondered how fast a page updates on wikipedia nowadays? It took all of three minutes after Roger Federer’s victory in the US Open for this to appear on his biography there:
In the 2007 US Open, Federer beat 3rd seed Novak Djokovic in the final in straight sets 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 WOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!.
And within the time it took me to copy and paste that extract, the offending exclamation had been removed. Clearly, there’s no such thing as too many editors.
Earlier this year, I had my own experience with the amazingly rapid updating of Wikipedia. A day or two before we were to leave on our vacation to Spain, I was trying to figure out the logistics of getting from Madrid's airport to our hotel in the city. Rick Steves' guidebook informed that the metro connected directly to terminal 2, and a hook-up was expected to the new international terminal 4 sometime in 2007. So I figured I would check Wikipedia to see what it said about Madrid-Barajas Airport, and it said simply that the Metro runs to terminal 2 and terminal 4. Wanting to get independent confirmation, I Googled, and discovered that indeed the connection was open to T4. In fact, the ribbon-cutting ceremony had occurred, oh, a few hours previous. So the ribbon had barely hit the floor before someone had updated Wikipedia. We were some of the first arriving passengers to use the new metro station, and Wikipedia already had the scoop. Wiki wiki indeed.

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