On Edge (magazine)there’s an interesting discourse going on: collective vs. individual.
Jaron Lanier writes about “Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism”.
Lots of responses to that, e.g. from Douglas Rushkoff, Quentin Hardy, Yochai Benkler, Clay Shirky, Cory Doctorow, Kevin Kelly, Esther Dyson, Larry Sanger, Fernanda Viegas & Martin Wattenberg, Jimmy Wales, George Dyson, Dan Gillmor, Howard Rheingold.
One of Lanier’s points regarding Wikipedia: the collective is seen as all-wise which has had dreadful consequences in history and which is now re-introduced by technologists and futurists.
I fail to see anything foolish (Quote Lanier: "The Wikipedia is far from being the only online fetish site for foolish collectivism"..)in the collaborative efforts of the Wikipedia, nor anything even faintly related to totalitarism. Besides, the work numerous people do there out of their free will may present itself as a collective effort but comes from the decision of individuals with individual expertise and skills. And why play off the Britanica against the Wikipedia? Why not use both?
Douglas Rushkoff writes: “Projects like Wikipedia do not overthrow any elite at all, but merely replace one elite — in this case an academic one — with another: the interactive media elite”. I cannot see a replacement yet, but there’s certainly a very active interactive media elite next to the academic one – with people belonging to both groups - which is a good thing, indeed.