Wikipedia URLs a Subject Codes

The link is to David Megginson's blog. This struck me as terribly interesting.
Over in my aviation weblog, I find myself more and more linking to Wikipedia whenever I’m discussing a concept, person, place, or anything else that doesn’t have its own, canonical home page. If, as I suspect, lots of other bloggers are doing the same, then links to Wikipedia articles may soon be the blogsphere’s answer to subject codes.
The idea follows something similar from James Tauber, who points to a tagging scheme from Technorati. In the end, it seems that subject identity lies in the realm of concensus or agreement; Wikipedia appears popular enough that its URLs might serve at least one important aspect of the subject identity issue.


  1. One of the commenters at Megginson's blog entry has his own commentary on the same subject, found hereBy contrast, both James Tauber and David Megginson are suggesting the use of Wikipaedia as a way of providing tagging. In brief, what they suggest is that by referring to a wikipedia article, one defines what one is talking about, or at least defines it in terms of the definition that existed when one made the link. While I can see the simplicity of the idea is attractive, my worries about impermanent links apply here too. Mind you, now I've introduced two concepts:

    1. The concept of categorisation, and
    2. The concept of definition.

    While the examples that David and James use for categorisation are probably going to be reliable enough in the long term, it may be that for more controversial topics, the actual categories will drift in time, linking things together in unforeseen ways, and introducing new misunderstandings as the definitions may no longer agree. In my CF example above, I spoke of the importance of version control, and I think this applies to serious application of categorisation ....

  2. Using Wikipedia URLs is on line with the notion of living subject indicators continuously defined through conversation and consensus. The fact that the content, and therefore meaning, may drift over time is not really an issue since Wikipedia content is the result of a social consensus and that the tool provides instant control and feedback from the community of users, which are therefore not dependent on sudden changes from a single authoritative editor. The same way, meaning of words are subject to slow drifts in natural languages, which does not prevent them to be used efficiently.


Comments welcome