Thursday, March 23, 2006

Writely Aquired by Google

The AJAX-based online word-processing application Writely has been acquired by Google. I wrote about Writely a few posts back, and still give it my praise--it's a great program that really fills a niche.

But what does the merger mean for us users? Well for one, Writely has temporarily discontinued new registrations until the transition to Google's servers is completed. Writely claims to not change things--for now-- and the merger should allow the start-up to make some serious improvements under Google's massive budget. The team working on the Writely project should increase as well.

I'm wary about Google's AdSense program slipping in on Writely, however. Google has had the habit of providing useful, streamlined, and powerful services with their trademark clean interfaces, but then adding their text ads later down the road. Look at Gmail, for example. Writely claims this will not happen until users are notified, but how much good will that do once the users have established a portfolio of work on Writely?

From the looks of it, no major changes are occuring to Writely as a result of the merger for some time. Nonetheless, I'm not certain if this was the best decision for Writely. I'm a believer in the *nix philosophy: Do one thing and do it right. Since Google went public in 2004, it has been straying from its own domain--web searching. Hopefully Google can keep doing Writely "right" (write?).

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Wikipedia Hits 1,000,000

Slashdot reports that Wikipedia, the online, user-edited encyclopedia, has reached its one-millionth article today at 6:09pm EST. The article is about the Jordanhill Railway Station.

Here are few highlights that caught my attention in the Slashdot thread:

  • znx writes, Even if you consider only 10% of the wiki as "useful content", that still means 100,000 articles. Which is just below that of Encyclopedia Britannica (which was established way back in 1768!). This is a milestone along the way, the wikipedia isn't perfect but it is a great project that should be celebrated for its success.

  • fm6 writes, I find it interesting that the "official" one millionth article is one of those obscure geographical articles that help justify Wikipedia's existence. It's the sort of narrow topic that old-fashioned encylopedias would never get to, but which is actually useful to certain people. But it's a little strange that the counter hit 1 million on such an article. By percentages it should have been a vanity article, a topic that exists mainly in the mind of the author, or a summary of a TV episode.

  • niktemadur writes, 1,000,000 articles in English. If you take all articles in all languages, Wikipedia surpassed the magic number a long time ago, and has by now actually gone beyond 2,000,000 articles.

Also, interestingly enough, Wikipedia user Mészáros András predicted that today (i.e., March 1, 2006) would see the official authorship of Wikipedia's one-millionth article.

The count to one-million does not include redirects and stubs. If those were included, Wikipedia would have over 2.5 million articles.

There is of course the expected debate (seeing as it is a Slashdot thread) on the value, accuracy, and reliability of Wikipedia. One Slashdotter posted a link to Uncyclopedia, a parody of Wikipedia with the slogan "The content-free encyclopedia that anyone can edit," compared to Wikipedia's slogan "The free encyclopedia than anyone can edit."