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Collective power moves mountains.

If enough people feel strongly about something and are prepared to stand up and say it then results might just ensue.

Facebook users came out in their droves to react against the social networking site’s possessiveness about users personal details. The outcry was enough to cause a u-turn among Facebook mgt. They’ve backed down and reverted to original terms and conditions.

EU Data Protection laws clearly outline that a person has a right to have data about them deleted if it is not serving any purpose e.g the users has shut their account. Also, the data holder can only use the data for stated purposes e.g. facilitating the provision of social networking facilities to subscribers.The US, where Facebook is based, has similar provisions.

The question is – how can Facebook change these terms. After all, arent they law?  I dont claim to be a law expert (because I’m not) but I dont quite understand this. Mark Zuckerberg in his blog seems rather vague. Facebook seem to have something in the pipeline.

On the plus side, the internet penchant for user-involvement means that users have a say. The “Bill of Rights” gives some reassurance. There are 7,228 (as of the time of this post) user comments on the wall. The result – Facebook promises to respect your data privacy.

Crisis averted…… for now………?

If you can’t beat ’em…

… join ’em.

And that’s what Encyclopaedia Britannica have done – sort of. 

The competition in the form of Wikipedia have had much success (yes, I know, I remember the sabotage examples too – but they seem to have overcome them) and has people flocking to their site in droves. Ask any 20-year old what Encyclopedia Britannica is and you very well might get blank stares. Wikipedia allows Joe Soap to contribute to it, and so Joe Soap knows all about it and its among his first choices when looking for information on whatever topic.

Britannica aren’t quite going the Wikipedia way of embracing the crowd for its contents. They are retaining  the emphasis on the domain experts (ok, there is some UGC but it seems to be downplayed).  One wonders how much an Encyclopedia Britannica expert gets paid. The cost adds to the cost of the final product. Wikipedia have discovered that people are more than willing to give away their expertise for free. This has a double plus – allowing the end product to be freely available and so more accessible to the those who want to peruse it.  Also, there is the the associated status. Having contributed to a working and accepting page of a well-travelled site is a badge of merit worn with pride – and we all know how pervasive online viral marketing can be.

I am curious about the “web-based tools that visitors can use to put together their own reference materials”. That might be interesting. Interesting enough to pay for….. perhaps, or perhaps not.