Friday, March 16, 2007


I've just written a review of a book about the Space Shuttle and International Space Station for the Toronto newspaper. The best reference on these subjects I found on the web was Wikipedia. Accurate? Every fact I used in the review I checked against the NASA web sites and found no errors. In general, Wikipedia was more comprehensive and better organized than the official sites. The amount of information to be found on there is impressive, and the links to other sources invaluable.

I would imagine there are hundreds of people out there who have as their hobbies knowing everything there is to know about every aspect of the space programs, maybe as much or more than the engineers who build and launch the crafts and the astronauts who fly them. You can be sure these aficionados are picking at Wikipedia with a fine-toothed comb, scrutinizing every decimal point. It is a brilliant concept, when you think about it: Harnessing the collective knowledge of the masses for the benefit of all.

Once before I proposed here building a WikiWorld online global "government," a virtual alternative to the United Nations and its associated agencies. Such a "government" would have no powers other than moral, but it could show the way to a real world government that would be secular, democratic and people-based. The internet is the defining invention of our age; it is inevitable and desirable that its diffusion of power and expertise should be harnessed to the political agenda of alleviating the excesses of nationalism, religious separatism, and economic imperialism.

How to build such a WikiWorld template? That's beyond me, but not -- I am sure -- beyond the imaginations of smart young wiki-ites around the world who can turn the web into an instrument of human unification and moral compulsion.