Sunday, June 1, 2008

Would we invent wikipedia if it didn't exist?

Ever hear someone say something like this at a conference:
"Well, if they would have consulted librarians when they were designing the Internet/wikipedia, then [insert positive benefit here]...."?

OK, let's cross that with: "If the Internet/wikipedia didn't exist, it would have been necessary to invent them."

Let's take that hybrid and do a thought experiment. If the Internet/wikipedia didn't exist and librarians somehow were the only ones who had the power to bring either into existence (assume we had the necessary resources) - would we have done it? Or would it have looked too risky and messy? - Even for all the amazing advances in knowledge and information dissemination each would bring?

What lesson does this thought experiment leave us with as we stare down an uncertain future where we might find ourselves deciding whether or not to try some new, perhaps messy, less than perfect project?