ScreenClip(24)The Nieman Journalism Lab has just announced Encyclo, an “encyclopedia of the future of news.” With 184 entries at launch, the encyclopedia provides background on the various entities and people who are driving innovation in news publishing and e-publishing. There are a few entries on e-book matters (most notably Apple and Amazon) as they touch on journalism, as well.

Although Encyclo has forms for submitting feedback, it seems to be meant strictly as a curated resource, rather than fully contributor-sourced like a wiki. This is understandable in a resource that is intended to be of full professional quality. But it reminds me of an interesting side-effect of the wiki-based encyclopedic format.

Wikia_logo_largeThe wiki format seems to promote a remarkable level of crowd-sourcing. Not just for Wikipedia, though that is an impressive accomplishment, but for fan sites in general. The Wikia make-your-own-wiki site (created by the founders of Wikipedia) is home to a dizzying array of fan-created references sites for TV shows, movies, books, and other pop-cultural phenomena. These sites spring up like mushrooms—and they achieve a remarkable level of completeness amazingly quickly.

Just spend a little time browsing through some of them—for example, the ones for:

—and you’ll find they’re amazingly comprehensive, and up-to-the-moment current. There are a lot of fans of these works, and enough of them have enough time on their hands (and a social impetus to contribute) that they get kept up fairly quickly. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if these wikis had put a significant dent in the market for professionally-published show guides. After all, why buy a book written by just a few people that will be out of date the day it’s published?

I’m not so sure Encyclo will be able to match that level of growth. (Certainly Google’s curated Knol project didn’t.) But then again, it probably doesn’t need to, as long as its mission is just to cover the broad strokes and fill in background elements within a relatively narrow focus. But for delving into minutia, there’s nothing like a fan-sourced wiki.


The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail