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technology

Wikipedia turns ten this week

Published torsdag 13 januari 2011 kl 15.40
"A few people tend to be highly active"
(5:08 min)

The online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, is ten years old this year. Today it is used by millions across the world - and it also exists in a Swedish language version.

Axel Pettersson is Sweden's press spokesman for Wikipedia. Volunteers like him keep the Swedish-language site going.

He says that it is the mission of Wikipedia - to make all of human knowledge available - that motivates him to work for free.

So far Swedish Wikipedia has just under 400,000 articles - compared with the English-language version, which has over three and a half million. But while the Swedish one has now been overtaken by bigger languages, Axel Pettersson says that high-tech Sweden had one of the first Wikipedia sites founded in 2001, just after the English mother site.

Anyone can edit Wikipedia - it is based on the idea of a constant process of review, where misktakes or lies will be found out and corrected.

Building up the website's credibility has been a major aim for the last ten year. Eva Hemungs Wirten is a professor of library and information science at Uppsala university. She says that she uses Wikipedia a lot - and that she trusts it, within limits

"You use it as a first stepping-stone, and you always have to check it."

"It's not black and white. It's not either trusting old analogue sources and being critical of the new digital information, it's about being critical to both these sources of information."

Eva Hemungs Wirten says that one of the most revolutionary aspects of Wikipedia is the way it can break down the old division between author and reader, or producer and consumer. But this possibility is undermined by the fact that there is only a certain small group of people creating Wikipedia content.

"We don't know what the next ten years of Wikipedia will look like. Will we see a larger distribution of people editing it, or will we see an old-style expert community develop?"

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