I’ve referenced Wikipedia articles in various posts. Wikipedia is a collaborative encyclopedia that is open to all comers. Anyone can originate or modify a Wikipedia article. It’s a pretty cool resource.
c|net’s News.com is reporting that the Wikimedia Foundation, the parent organization for the Wikipedia, is working on a Wikibooks project. Their primary thrust is freely-available text books on any and all subjects, written by various academics and authorities in the field. The texts will be available for free, and open to edit by the general public, like the Wikipedia. A pretty cool idea.
I can see a potential pitfall to this. Authors of textbooks are interested in two things–publicity as an expert in the field, and money from the sales. They’ll get plenty of publicity, but no bucks. This won’t kill the project, but it will be an obstacle to overcome.
However, there are probably a lot of budding authorities in their fields that would be happy to give up a freebie in order to get some recognition.
I can also see another Wiki project, and that would be a Wikibooks for fiction. There are a lot of talented writers out there–you see then on the survival boards writing survival fiction, on the various fan fiction boards and so on. Wouldn’t it be interesting to bring them all together and see who gets noticed by the traditional press?