As Media Bullseye columnist Wayne Kurtzman has noted in a post over on that publication, January 15th is Wikipedia’s 10th Birthday.
Wikipedia was one of the first “consumer generated content” sites that appeared on my radar screen. Companies, in particular, were becoming sensitive to the notion that others–complete strangers with no connections to the company–could define them on an encyclopedia in cyberspace. It has gone from a source that teachers cautioned students not to use because of questionable accuracy, to becoming a source where journalists first head–sometimes with disastrous results. As always, when the gates are open for all to edit “Trust–but Verify.”
It’s been an interesting 10 years, as since then we’ve seen the rise of the influence of blogs, the appearance and rapid growth of Twitter, and the phenomenal growth of Facebook. We’ve also seen early entrants to the social space struggle to redefine themselves in this changing landscape.
Although some companies continue to struggle with the concept that the public now has the ability to define them, many realize that that has always been the case–it’s simply in written form now. Our images and impressions of companies have always been defined by how we filter their activities and actions–good or bad. This is the concrete reality of social media–external definition and validation.
Wikipedia endures because of its usefulness, and just the sheer logic behind building a reference base that relies on people who believe in the site’s mission.
Happy Birthday Wikipedia–may you have many more!