Clive Anderson investigated Wikipedia earlier this week on BBC Radio 4: The Wikipedia Story
He dealt with the usual criticisms ("it can't be relied on; how do we know the expertise of those who edit pages; it's easily vandalised, etc") with the typically incisive mind of a lawyer, and at the same time engendered enthusiasm for what is undoubtedly a laudable project. He visited the UK branch of Britannica to get a view from the establishment side of the encyclopaedia business, and he even elicited a sound-bite or two from renowned internet doomsayer Andrew Keen, author of The Cult of the Amateur and whose broadcast comments reeked of sour grapes.
The radio programme is available as an audio stream here (I don't know for how long - but it will shortly be released as a podcast*):
Download RealPlayer here
Anderson and his interviewees emphasised the essential point about Wikipedia and Web 2.0 - that there is no way this is going to be like a traditional encyclopaedia, nor should it be. We now live in a different information age. By all means trot down to your local library and heft a massive tome from the shelf in order to find out what you want to know. Meanwhile those of us with more pressing knowledge-needs can log on, check out, cross reference and be on to the next item before the traditional researchers have located their bicycle clips.
*UPDATE: The stream and podcast are no longer available, but you can download the mp3 from RapidShare here: