Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Wikipedia = authority?

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I recently came across this article about tagging and folksonomies and Wikipedia by Peter Morville. It's an interesting read, but I think I take exception to this bit:
Now, some old-fashioned librarians may claim that due to the pseudo-anonymous, multi-author nature of the Wikipedia, its articles have no authority. But they'd be wrong. Authority derives from the information architecture, visual design, governance, and brand of the Wikipedia, and from widespread faith in intellectual honesty and the power of collective intelligence.

Okay, aside from the fact that phrases like 'the power of collective intelligence' make my teeth hurt, I fail to understand how 'visual design' contributes to the authority of a resource. Information architecture as a contributing factor to the authority of a resource I can buy-- good information architecture improves the findability of data, and that (one would hope) leads to more consistent search results. I understand how governance and branding contribute to the perceived authority and/or reliability of an information resource. But I really don't get how 'visual design' would make a resource authoritative. Even after following the links and reading the articles on 'cognitive authority', I'm not sure how visual design contributes to it.