Wikipedia if viewed as a design model or algorithm which exists to optimize and encourage knowledge diffusion can be considered a moderate success. It has many clear advantages over the traditional encyclopedia models where access to knowledge was considered very expensive. Wikipedia has been a benefit to the world because it has greatly reduced the cost of acquiring knowledge for anyone who has access to the Internet.
What Wikipedia gets right
- Wikipedia is open and utilizes the creative commons. It encourages knowledge diffusion.
- Wikipedia is surprisingly efficient at what it does. It has beat out all it’s competitors.
- Wikipedia is free. You don’t have to pay for access to the knowledge on Wikipedia and anyone with an Internet connection has access which maximizes knowledge diffusion.
Where Wikipedia could be enhanced
- Enhance fault tolerance: One of the major areas in need of improvement of Wikipedia is it’s level of decentralization. If we think of Wikipedia as a knowledge diffusion network algorithm then if it’s centralized it has lower fault tolerance. Faults such as the domain name could be blocked to prevent people from being able to access it, or vulnerability to being politically attacked if content on Wikipedia is inconvenient. Having a low fault tolerance endangers the reliability and availability of Wikipedia in the long term.
- Enhance autonomy: Wikipedia is somewhat manual and doesn’t take advantage of automation. Software autonomous agents could greatly benefit researchers who are trying to use AI to improve their productivity. Text to speech or other AI capabilities could benefit people who cannot read, who are blind, or who multitask. In general this is an area which can be greatly improved but which may require a more self sufficient model.
- Enhance self sufficiency: One of the critical problematic areas with Wikipedia is that it lacks the ability to incentivize knowledge creation and knowledge diffusion. Human beings who create knowledge for Wikipedia are typically college professors, scientists, engineers or inventors. This means that there is no payment to the creators of new knowledge for the time consuming process of creating new knowledge which means these creators of new knowledge if they are to pay their bills may be forced to use patents, work for large corporations, or lock their knowledge up behind expensive pay walled journals.
Omnipedia’s potential advantages over Wikipedia
- Wikipedia doesn’t have a highly adaptable resilient evolutionary design. Wikipedia is a very good design which has low adaptivity because it’s got a design which is moderately successful but difficult to change certain aspects. The new decentralized Wiki design should be evolutionary, designed to adapt to it’s environment, designed for resilience, and designed for high fault tolerance. Omnipedia should not be something which can be destroyed, taken down, or shut down. Only through decentralized democratic or and collaborative processes should the Omnipedia community be able to govern itself.
- Wikipedia does not have an autonomous design. It relies on many familiar yet soon to be outdated processes which may be automated. Omnipedia should future proof itself and leverage automation whenever it makes sense to do so. If automation can generate new knowledge at a cheaper rate than humans then Omnipedia should leverage that and if automation can enhance knowledge diffusion then Omnipedia should leverage that.
- Wikipedia doesn’t capture revenue to fund it’s own growth which means it relies on donations and there can be problems with this if everyone uses Wikipedia without donating. The new decentralized Wiki architecture should allow the creators of new knowledge to earn during the process of knowledge diffusion so that they can be encouraged to continue creating new knowledge. It should also allow anyone to contribute resources to support Omnipedia such as the Proof of Resource model highlighted by the SAFE Network project where anyone can sell storage space, compute time, bandwidth, or other support services.
Omnipedia should not just be a Wiki but a decentralized wiki architecture which allows anyone to generate a decentralized wiki network. It should be set up so that anyone can create a wiki with any business model they choose so that knowledge producers can choose which wiki to contribute to and participants can have maximum choice between different knowledge providers. Omnipedia should be designed to encourage knowledge diffusion, prices can be kept low and quality high through the competition between different Wikis. The best design model for a Wiki should be found organically by the process of participation so that old models which no longer fit the needs of society can be replaced at any time.
Morris, J. C. (2007, October). DistriWiki:: a distributed peer-to-peer wiki network. In Proceedings of the 2007 international symposium on Wikis (pp. 69-74). ACM.