(STAR) By Eden Estopace - In the early days of the Web, people “read” online to acquire more knowledge of the world. In the current Web landscape, or what is known as the Web 2.0 phenomenon, people converge in the so-called information superhighway to “share” knowledge.

Thus, barely two months since a free Web-based online Philippine encyclopedia built on the wiki platform, a knowledge-sharing tool on the Internet, went live on Independence Day, some 33,000 articles have been published on the site.

Written collaboratively by volunteers around the world in an effort to build the largest Philippine knowledge base, this new Philippine online resource dubbed WikiPilipinas is an ongoing project that seeks more volunteers, or in its own words “knowledge workers,” to contribute and expand this knowledge portal even further.

At the official press launch of the site, WikiPilipinas founder Gus Vibal said he and his team have set a benchmark of 100,000 articles or entries for the Philippines to be considered among the top 10 wiki encyclopedias in the world.

“This will serve as proof that Philippine culture has the depth and substance to stand among the best in the world,” Vibal said.

The portal uses the open-source technology of Wikipedia that allows users to add, remove, edit and share content easily and quickly. Because its content is freely contributed, it is also covered by the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL), which ensures that content can be distributed and reproduced freely.

This, Vibal hopes, will create a “long tail” effect for the promotion of Philippine history and culture on the Web.

To date, Vibal said WikiPilipinas is already among the top 36 wikis of the world if ranked within Wikipedia and has surpassed the wiki sites of Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Thailand, Iran, Greece and Norway.

Vibal recounts that the growth of WikiPilipinas is phenomenal. On July 17, or roughly a month since it was made available online, the site was already setting a record with around 300 encyclopedia entries being added daily.

Currently, WikiPilipinas’ knowledge base is classified into 12 portals — people and society, culture and arts, media and entertainment, sports and leisure, history, economy and business, government and politics, geography and travel, religion and beliefs, science and technology, Philippine communities, and an Internet directory.

The portal’s editors are practically anyone — from experts to scholars to casual readers assigned to a particular knowledge area. Vibal’s notable partners in this endeavor include Jeroen Hellingman, the Dutch director of Project Gutenberg Philippines; Carlos Madrid, a young Spanish historian living in Manila; Esther Paceco, past director of the Ateneo de Manila University; Dr. Lloyd Espiritu, former dean of the De La Salle University College of Computer Studies; Philippine historians Grace Mateo and Raymund Abejo; and Doña Georgina Padilla Zobel of Premio Zobel.

But Vibal, whose career as an international book publisher in New York has been nurtured in companies such as Simon & Schuster, Prentice Hall and Pearson Education, has a grand vision for WikiPilipinas.

“History is written from the point of view of those who write. Knowledge is not the exclusive domain of the Western world,” he said at the press launch.

Thus, he is enjoining all Filipinos worldwide to contribute and share information that is “fundamentally Pinoy,” which will help the country gain recognition worldwide.

WikiPilipinas is also envisioned to eventually evolve into a multilingual encyclopedia with local content written in eight major Philippine dialects.

As it is now, the site is an online encyclopedia a la Wikipedia with exclusive Philippine content. Its contents are fairly easy to locate as they are listed a la Yahoo! directory. From its homepage, you can easily spot the 12 knowledge areas and locate very interesting trivia about the Philippines.

Whether you’re looking for information on the country’s Olympic medalists, presidents, the top 10 richest Pinoys or the most memorable lines from Filipino movies, a cursory glance at the homepage will give you this and more.

And in typical Web 2.0 design, it is a platform and a driving force, a community and a network of people drawn together by the Web’s culture of participation.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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