Whirr2005-12-21
Wikipedia's days are numbered. Aliens!
So I was reading this fascinating article over on Metafilter and, since I'm not sure how often you read that page, I thought I'd bring it to your attention.

It started innocuously enough, discussing a new web portal that was going to be the new Wikipedia-killer--it would have all of that encyclopedic goodness, but would also include a 3D interface, satellite images, and god knows what all else. This page explains more.

Then I found out, reading the discussion further, that the project is perhaps not as well thought out as it may have seemed:
    "Two and a half years ago, Joe Firmage... gave an interview with News.com about his latest project -- and was barely comprehensible. Even the interviewer interrupts him halfway through to say he's not sure what he's talking about. In it, he discusses how commercialization is destroying ‘the architectural efficacy of navigation,’ along with the idea of self-sustaining 3D portals of information supported by ‘a new caching system for the Mozilla browser that lets you present Xbox-quality experiences on a dial-up modem’ using ‘a natural taxonomy where we use nature, as described by science, to describe what's inside, and what is related to what.’ As for how it would be financially viable, he expected to partner with ISPs to sell... um... ISP service that would let people access his new 3D portals. It's not clear why they would do this, but he seemed to believe that being associated with his company would ‘be a Good Housekeeping seal of approval.’ In the past two and a half years, it appears they've spent some time refining the idea, and are are now set to launch under the Digital Universe brand -- though, the message has changed somewhat. There are still some similarities to that early ‘vision,’ ….Instead, it's morphed into a Wikipedia wannabe with certain articles in certain portals approved by experts (apparently having a PhD. qualifies you). The plan still seems to be to support it by selling ISP services -- but now the plan is to sell branded ISP services through various non-profits. Of course, nowhere is it explained why people will want to buy ISP service from a non-profit.”

Finally, I learned that the project is the brainchild of Joe Firmage, ex-CEO of USWeb, and that he left that company in protest over the fact that the current high-tech industry is entirely founded on alien technology. Partially recovered from the crash in Roswell, and partially given to us by "The Teachers", in 1945.

I'm telling you, community-based forums (Slashdot, Kuros5in, and Metafilter) are the way to go! What would have been a brief story on CNN about a possible competitor to Wikipedia opens up to display whole realms of lunacy!
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