Having survived Wikipedia’s 24 hour protest against SOPA and PIPA, a lot of people have suddenly discovered just how much they have come to rely on Wikipedia as an information source. Not that this is a bad thing, after all I love Wikipedia, I truly do. I think it is one of the greatest achievements of the world-wide web and represents a marvelous opportunity for each of us to preserve a record of our world and all the things in it.
I would use Wikipedia every day (often many times per day), as part of my job, for blogging and for general interest. But I grow increasingly saddened by the lack of tech company history (especially SAN) in Wikipedia. Truly great IT companies and truly great IT products have come and gone and are often not really represented. For instance:
- When you search for McData you end up on the Brocade page. Where is the corporate history of McData? Do the McData 6064 and 6140 deserve nothing but passing mention? Ex McData employees where are you?
- When you search for Engenio you end up on the NetApp page. Where is the corporate history of Engenio?
- There are no pages for Inrange, CNT, Nishan, DDN. I could keep going, the list of missing companies is very long.
- The first laser printer ever released by Xerox, the 9700, does not have its own page. This was a major milestone in the development of office technology.
- The first IBM CMOS mainframe the one that ended IBM’s love affair with water cooling, the IBM 9672, does not have its own page. This product started a major change in the mainframe market.
- I could keep listing other significant products that need far more details than they currently have.
Now of course there had been a huge amount of work already done, so please don’t think I am denigrating the work of Wikipedia’s many contributors. But more needs to be done, and the good news is that a central tenet of Wikipedia is just fix it. So anyone can contribute, either by creating an article, or editing an existing article, or by participating in the talk pages that exist for each article (and those can also be VERY interesting).
If you are keen enough to create an article, you need to:
- Ensure your article is notable (watch out for quick deletion!).
- Ensure your article maintains a neutral point of view (it should not be advertising).
- Ensure your article is properly referenced and cited. This last requirement is the biggest challenge. Many large corporations simply don’t leave enough artifacts to make this easy. But artifacts are there, you just need to look. Google is not always your friend. You may need to do some genuine research.
Sounds exciting? Get started!
Need help? There is plenty out there. I can also recommend two very good books (both of which I have read): The Wikipedia Revolution and Teach Yourself Wikipedia in 10 minutes.
Don’t want to write? Here is something else you could do:
If you have any photos that you took yourself of IT gear or computer rooms, upload them to Wikipedia Commons. If you don’t know how to or feel uncomfortable doing so yourself, let me know, I can help. Provided the photos are your own work, are not scans of other people’s images and you are happy to share them, then we can preserve them and use them freely in Wikipedia articles. Almost every IT related article would benefit from photos of equipment.
I particularly want images of IBM printers and copiers, do you have any?
But why does Wikipedia and Lady Gaga leave me speechless? As a benchmark, look at the article on the Lady Gaga song, Speechless. If the Gaga’s fans can find the enthusiasm to create such a long article (21 KB) on just a single song, surely some budding IT historians can tip the balance on some of our great contributors to SAN.
It is time to get writing….