Thursday, January 10, 2008


I received an email the other day asking me to look at a Beta test of Wiser Wiki.

WiserWiki has been produced as a free service by Elsevier and aims to allow accredited physicians to comment, collaborate and update medical information online and is viewable by everyone. The site was originally seeded with content from John Noble’s “Textbook of Primary Care Medicine” (3rd Edition).

Having been a long term user, and contributor, to Wikipedia over the last 3+ years and having played with various other wiki software and applications, I was interested to take a look.

I wonder whether this approach by a major established publisher of books illustrates a trend we will see growing in future years - is this the way in which 2nd and 3rd editions of books will be developed with collaboration and contribution from experts in a subject around the world?

I can understanding limiting editing rights to those with appropriate qualifications, but was surprised that the facility to use inline citations within the text, now increasingly required on wikipedia, has not been used in this application to validate the sources of the information provided.

I also wonder.....
* whether the publishers are hoping to get contributions from authors for free through this medium?
* whether the public and patients will value this information more highly than that on other web sites?
* what this approach means for the financial, copyright and intellectual property rights rules of the publishing houses?

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