More likely than not, you probably haven’t heard of Digital Universe which is also being called the Anti-Wikipedia. Who would develop such a thing you ask? Afterall, Wikipedia is the go-to encyclopedia on the web (although semi-controversial). You can find heaps of information on just about every topic from A to Z and of course it is a wiki which means content is added and edited collaboratively by people just like you and I. Digital Universe was started three years ago with a goal of assembling information on the web much like Wikipedia (with some differences), but it is backed by experts instead of the general population.
The founder of Digital Universe, Joe Firmage says their core mission is information you can trust. While Wikipedia is collaboratively written, I’ve never come across information on Wikipedia that gave me the feeling it was unreliable. There are countless non professional ‘experts’ that contribute to Wikipedia with more information in one place than I’d ever be able to scrounge up in one source elsewhere. Sure, information can be inaccurate sometimes, but that’s what is so great about it. The community of users acts as the editors and removes inaccurate information.
Firmage has sought out scientists and academics, otherwise known as experts in their fields to help him achieve his goal. A full version is expected in the Fall, and for now a pilot version can be found at www.digitaluniverse.net. The public is still able to contribute, however the experts review, create context, and ensure accuracy of the content. Additionally, using Digital Universe is a bit more like scanning a table of contents than it is searching for particular words.
I think the general population who browse the 3 million+ articles over at Wikipedia won’t be so quick to run over and see what the experts have to say. What does Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia say about this ‘anti-wikipedia?’ “I think it’s extremely unlikely they will be successful,” he said. “If they don’t put together an open system, they are going to have a really hard time getting participation. Their arrogant view of experts is going to turn off a lot of contributors.”
The idea just doesn’t excite me too much. Do we really need another source for expert information?