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Wikipedia – 2001 AD

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2001

Wikipedia

Jimmy Wales (b. 1966), Larry Sanger (b. 1968)

“Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia represented in 287 languages, containing more than 30 million articles. It is owned by the Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit organization. Wikipedia leverages volunteers from anywhere in the world to contribute content or create new entries on largely any topic they wish. Content and individual articles represent the organic contributions of those participating in their chosen language. The guiding principle of Wikipedia is that information is kept current and made more accurate through continuous crowdsourcing, which achieves both authenticity and factuality. The result is a mass-collaboration effort that, while sometimes containing mistakes and bias, provides a general reference on common and uncommon topics for people around the world. It is one of the most popular sites on the web.

Information appearing in Wikipedia articles is supposed to be cited and referenced. Readers can click on the links at the bottom of the page that are supposed to connect back to the originating material and platform. One feature that results from this operating model is “edit wars” between contributors over controversial topics such as politics and religion.

Wikipedia and its cofounders have had their share of controversies and critics as well, but they have also had many supporters and benefactors. Wikipedia’s notion of truth and reliability—something is true if it appears in a reliable secondary source—can result in circular reporting, because many journalists have relied on unsourced Wikipedia articles for their references, and then the Wikipedia articles are updated to reference the journalistic article as a source.

Wikipedia requires a significant amount of ongoing and repetitive editing and formatting to correct misspellings and maintain proper arrangement of links and reference material. As such, Wikipedia also uses automated bots to augment human volunteers doing this work. Interestingly, as the number of bots has increased, so has the phenomenon of bot-on-bot edit wars as well, where bots go back and forth undoing and redoing changes to each other’s content. Increasingly, entire articles in Wikipedia can be attributed to bots as technical sophistication grows with advancements in artificial intelligence.”

SEE ALSO GNU Manifesto (1985), Collaborative Software Development (1999)

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia has more than 30 million crowdsourced articles.

Fair Use Sources: B07C2NQSPV

Categories
History Software Engineering

Collaborative Programming and Software Development – 1999 AD

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1999

Collaborative Software Development

“Despite the reputation of software developers as solitary, introverted people, much of their time is spent socializing and collaborating with colleagues and like-skilled experts to solve common problems or work on common projects. By the late 1990s, a combination of factors led to the emergence of collaborative development environments (CDEs), wherein geographically dispersed developers, some connected by corporations, others simply by challenges, would collaborate in virtual space using a variety of features to advance open source projects and develop code.

As software development efforts for web-based platforms grew, so did the need for greater productivity and innovation in meeting the growing demands of these systems and their ever-changing requirements. CDEs evolved in part to meet these demands and to help coders realize the network effects of leveraging expertise and social engagement beyond one’s own community or organization. The company that led the charge in this era was SourceForge®, a free service for software developers to manage their code development that came on the scene in 1999. A number of other platforms entered the market soon after.

Collaborative software development has dramatically accelerated the pace of developing open source projects. Without these capabilities, the rate of evolution would have been much slower, and without the benefit of as many perspectives and diverse inputs, the quality would not be nearly so high. One example of this is the Apache Software Foundation’s big data software stack, including Hadoop, Apache Spark, and others—which was collaboratively developed by programmers at dozens of different corporations and universities. In large part, the success and vibrancy of these projects is measured not just by their adoption but also by the number of active developers who are improving the code base.

Over time, CDEs incorporated additional features into their platforms beyond simple version control, including threaded discussion forums, calendaring and scheduling, electronic document routing and workflow, projects dashboards, and configuration control of shared artifacts, among others.”

SEE ALSO: GNU Manifesto (1985), Wikipedia (2001)

Services like SourceForge and GitHub make it possible for many people to work on the same piece of software at the same time, dramatically increasing the rate of software innovation.

Fair Use Sources: B07C2NQSPV

Brown, A. W., and Grady Booch. “Collaborative Development Environments.” Advances in Computers 53 (June 2003): 1–29.