Will a Google takeover of Wikipedia be a good thing or a bad thing? Don’t ask me. I’m more interested in what Google‘s offer says about the company’s persistently geeky culture. I may be wrong but I’m about 90% sure that it hasn’t occurred to anyone at Microsoft to host Wikipedia (this would be more their style). Wikipedia – and Wikis in general – are a good analogue for the net itself, an expression of its technically distributed and socially collaborative nature.
Wikipedia’s intelligence lives, necessarily, at its edges. In fact it barely has a centre at all in the old-fashioned sense. Most businesses find that sort of thing pretty alien, which, presumably, explains why the poor, benighted (but still awesome) Encyclopaedia Britannica actually survived the net’s first big attack only, by the look of it, to be completely broadsided by bottom-up knowledge sharing. Google‘s culture, though, evidently still thrives on funky, open, edgy phenomena like Wikipedia. Absorbing Wikipedia (which would, presumably cause barely a ripple in Google’s Ocean of CPU and bandwidth) might be commercial nonsense but it shows that the brand is alive and well.