Wikipedia has won. Wikipedia is the encyclopedia anyone actually consults, ever. In fact, it’s the first in history that everyone actually reads, rather than just having fond high school memories of. Wikipedia now defines what an “encyclopedia” is in popular conception. Wikipedia conventions now shape the English language.
So we don’t have tail-lights to chase any more. What sets our direction? Do we just drift? What does “encyclopedic” actually mean when we can’t just point at Britannica and assume people will understand? “Do more of whatever it is we’re already doing” is the default for new recruits, but with no direction we risk going over a cliff.
It’s 2014. What is an “encyclopedia”?
For Wikimedia in general, we have a good vision statement with clear implications, and a mission statement which is only slightly adverb-hobbled. Neither has the necessary level of detail to accurately explain Wikipedia to the world as well as to ourselves.
The further we can get away from the model of elementary schools and towards the model of the global universities, the better.
This gives a conceptual model to work to: Wikimedia as the sum of all university libraries. Obviously, this is far from the complete answer — we already do both more and less than that — but it’s the level of vision we need to chase to automatically know what to do next.
What other examples do we have of conceptual goals on that level?
Edit: Hacker News comments.