Democratization of knowledge

Democratization of knowledge

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Democratization of knowledge'
Start a new discussion about 'Democratization of knowledge'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The democratization of knowledge is the acquisition and spread of knowledge
Knowledge
Knowledge is a familiarity with someone or something unknown, which can include information, facts, descriptions, or skills acquired through experience or education. It can refer to the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject...

 amongst the common people, not just privileged elite
Elite
Elite refers to an exceptional or privileged group that wields considerable power within its sphere of influence...

s such as priests and academics.

History


The printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

 was one of the early steps towards the democratization of knowledge.

Another small example of this during the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 was the creation of libraries for miners in some Scottish villages in the 18th century.

Wikipedia
Wikipedia
Wikipedia is a free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Its 20 million articles have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. Almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site,...

 is rapidly turning into a real-time reference tool in which public entries can be updated by anyone at any time. This phenomenon—a product of the digital age—has greatly contributed to the democratization of knowledge in the modern era.

In the Digital Age


Wikipedia
Wikipedia
Wikipedia is a free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Its 20 million articles have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. Almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site,...

 co-founder, Larry Sanger
Larry Sanger
Lawrence Mark "Larry" Sanger is an American philosopher, co-founder of Wikipedia, and the founder of Citizendium....

, states in his article, that “Professionals are no longer needed for the bare purpose of the mass distribution of information and the shaping of opinion.” Sanger’s article confronts the existence of “common knowledge” and pits it against knowledge that everyone agrees on.

In terms of democratization of knowledge, Wikipedia
Wikipedia
Wikipedia is a free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Its 20 million articles have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. Almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site,...

 has played a major role. For instance, Wikipedia has attracted 400 million viewers across the globe and has communicated with them in over 270 languages. To show its international presence, Wikipedia raised over $16 million from 500,000 individuals worldwide. These donations make it possible for Wikipedia to continue offering free information. Wikipedia plans on expanding its reach, more specifically, it wants to spread to Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

, Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 and South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

. It even plans to open business in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, which would be its first international opening. The range in which Wikipedia articles are published is also interesting to note. For example the English language Wikipedia has over 3 million articles while the number of articles in German is around 1 million. The French language has produced nearly a million articles while Spanish has a little more than half of a million articles. The total number of articles produced in different languages totals 17 million. In the end, Wikipedia wants to reach more people with more languages, while still remaining free for everyone to access.

Google Book Search
Google Book Search
Google Books is a service from Google that searches the full text of books that Google has scanned, converted to text using optical character recognition, and stored in its digital database. The service was formerly known as Google Print when it was introduced at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October...

 has been pointed to as an example of democratization of knowledge, but Malte Herwig
Malte Herwig
Malte Herwig is a German-born author, journalist, and literary critic. His articles have appeared widely in U.S., British and German publications, including The New York Times, The Observer, Vanity Fair, Der Spiegel, Die Zeit, Süddeutsche Zeitung and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung...

 in Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel is a German weekly news magazine published in Hamburg. It is one of Europe's largest publications of its kind, with a weekly circulation of more than one million.-Overview:...

 raised concerns that the virtual monopoly
Monopoly
A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity...

 Google
Google
Google Inc. is an American multinational public corporation invested in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies. Google hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products, and generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program...

 has in the search market, combined with Google's hiding of the details of its search algorithms, could undermine this move towards democratization.

Scientific knowledge


The website eBird
EBird
eBird is an on-line database of bird observations providing scientists, researchers and amateur naturalists with real-time data about bird distribution and abundance. Originally restricted to sightings from the Western Hemisphere, it was widened to include New Zealand in 2008, and was widened to...

 has been described as an example of democratization of scientific knowledge, as it enlists amateurs to gather data on biodiversity
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

for use by scientists.