The Christian Science Monitor’s John Yemma has a wonderful post seeing the demise of Encarta as a cautionary tale – well, it’s too late for caution; a lesson – for newspapers.
That lesson is that general knowledge, whether under the brand name of a giant like Britannica or Microsoft, can’t withstand an effort that was developed specifically for the Internet and that harnesses gifted amateurs.
If all the big newspapers at once adopted a pay model, some upstart would come along and use a small group of journalists and a larger group of Wikipedia-like amateurs to build a multimedia newspaper. Like Wikipedia, it would be the butt of countless jokes about unreliability.
Maybe it would even report on its own unreliability.
But it would grow stronger because it would be organically constituted on the World Wide Web. That’s the power of open-source knowledge. And that’s the challenge the news media face as they dive into the Internet:
You can’t take the old model with you. You can take your organization’s values with you. But you can’t take its work habits, as we are learning this week in our first week of Web-first Monitor.
The Web is its own universe with its own rules.