On online encyclopedias

Have online publishers taken the ability to update online content too far? The fact that we can is interpreted as we should, but it’s an uneasy assumption. Many haven’t handled it well.

A lack of archiving and identifying change over time is the obvious problem, though it’s not obvious to users – and that’s central to the problem itself. But perhaps more problematic is the sustainability of trying to maintain a large corpus that presents an authoritative view when that view is subject to change.

What kind of product could be built that dispensed with the notion of updating content? What about bringing back the traditional cpublishing model of multiple editions of a book over time. Each edition still stands; early editions present what we thought then, newer editions are what we thought later. The progression in thinking is there for people to see, as is the current view.