Nick Carr piles on Wikipedia again, after noting the high (in search engine results) responses for various searches:
When critics point out the flaws in Wikipedia, its defenders are quick to respond, "It's only an encyclopedia; you don't use an encyclopedia as your only source." And that used to be true. In fact, after high school few people used encyclopedias at all, at least not regularly. But now, I'm not so sure. I'd wager that a heck of a lot of people searching the web do in fact use Wikipedia as their first and sole source, or at least their major source. (Just because you think people should consult a lot of different information sources doesn't mean that they're actually going to.) As Winer suggests, Wikipedia's dominance over search results may be subtly shifting the nature of the web as an information source, moving it from heterogeneity toward homogeneity. He's right: It is an important, and slippery, subject.
Well, what's his alternative? Something else used to be the #1 response for this search, and now it's Wikipedia. I'd bet that the previous #1 was quietly there for a long time, too - did Nick Carr (or anyone else) notice or care?
Something is always going to be the #1 search. Based on some research I saw awhile back, anything off the first page of the results is effectively invisible, and anything past the first 2 results is nearly so. Which means that for any given topic, the first two results are - for an awful lot of people - "definitive".
What I'd like to know is this: Carr spends an awful lot of his time wringing his hands about the horrors of Wikipedia. What's his solution? In an ideal world, what would he like to see instead? And in that ideal world, how would his solution be better?