We are the in-between generation. We remember using cassettes as well as downloading iTunes for the first time. We remember taking disposable film cameras on school trips along with taking hundreds of photos on our iPhones. We also remember using the family atlas that still showed Germany as two countries to research a project, as well as printing out a Wikipedia page and hoping the teacher wouldn’t notice the hyperlinks we forgot to take out.
15th January marks the 15th anniversary of Wikipedia; the site that has become the trusted result in every Google search and the heavily distrusted source for every essay marker. It has not just aided many school projects, but also gives us useful information in our everyday lives such as what film do we know that actor from or is that guy from that show still alive. Its interactive format, being created and edited by its users, means that there are articles on things that other encyclopaedias ignore, such as the Norwich Puppet Man or the historic Ed Balls Day. This has also lead to the display of beautiful writing and art, such as replacing Ukip’s page with a Labour poster on election day, or Leonardo DaVinci being credited for his work in the fields of art and science, as well as being the first black quarterback to win the Super Bowl and the inventor of Facebook.
[su_spoiler title=”Fun Fact!” style=”simple” icon=”chevron-circle” anchor=”Comment”]Wikipedia has over five million entries in English, as well as over 110,00 entries in ‘Simple English’ for those who are not adept at the language (or trying to complete their science homework).[/su_spoiler]
With a site that is completely orientated around user writing and editing, the continued success and trust we hold in Wikipedia is surprising. With websites still being a very new yet plentiful invention, it doesn’t take much for heavily popular sites, such as MySpace and Bebo, to fall into the abyss. For a website to make it to the age of 15 is in itself a huge achievement, but for a website that is mainly maintained by experts in the field, along with 13-year-olds trying to sabotage the bios of characters they don’t like, it is a true feat. With such an unusual website, in both format and content, you would have expected the concept to have crashed and burned after a few years. Yet it seems, despite the constant requests for donations, that Wikipedia is growing stronger and will continue to be around for a long time yet.
Wikipedia is the friend that gives you a lot of useless facts that you want to be true, but have to double check just in case. It’s a site we take for granted and don’t realise how much we trust, for a website maintained mostly by the American general public. Wikipedia is a website whose future will either be a beautiful one to observe, or interesting to watch crash and burn within the next fifteen years. In the meantime, happy birthday, Wikipedia. Thanks for doing all my year nine homework.