Evgeny Morozov in the Boston Review:
Can you trust Wikipedia? Most of us have stopped asking and simply bookmarked it. That makes sense when you consider the alternatives: you can explore the first dozen or so Google search results, or you can go straight to the occasionally erroneous Wikipedia entry, typically culled from the very same search results. If you are looking for fast, up-to-date information, it is Wikipedia or Google (not Wikipedia or Britannica), and Wikipedia wins on speed.
Wikipedia still has its critics, skeptics who doubt its merits as a reference source. But even they cannot deny the tremendous social innovation unleashed by Wikipedia-the-project. Every professional conference—on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to journalism to philanthropy—now includes the mandatory, impassioned plea for the industry to adopt The Wikipedia Model, as if it were a set of Lego pieces that could be ordered from eBay and assembled in a newsroom or on the trading floor.
The enthusiasm may not always be well-informed, but it is understandable. From the start, Wikipedia was an improbable outcome. According to a popular techie quip, it works in practice, but not in theory. Think about it: a bunch of strangers—and not the world’s most sociable strangers—leveraged the power of the Internet to create a highly functioning, über-productive community that voluntarily creates usable (and frequently used) knowledge for others. How much money would you have been prepared to bet against that result a decade ago?
More here. [Thanks to Kris Kotarski.]