News yesterday (TechCrunch)of AboutUs, a "wiki directory of websites" that's just secured $1 million in funding. This is an interesting development for the field of wiki-as-reference. There's a lot of known problems (RoughType) with Wikipedia itself becoming the definitive reference work for the digital age, but a lot of them are to do with the one-size-fits-all-ness of the platform - the idea that humanity's collective understanding of, say, Palestinian diplomacy, biochemistry, web2.0 and The Tempest should be written, edited, assessed and moderated according to much the same principles by much the same 1000 wikipedians.
Perhaps a more useful starting point for a work of reference would instead be something that aggregated the best tailored wikis from each field, much as Google is the first and second page of search but for useful vertical results users actually search more structured databases on purposed jobs, property, dating or travel sites. Perhaps AboutUs is the start of that phenomenon. A wiki focused specifically on becoming the accredited directory of the world's websites could ensure that its content was accumulated and edited according to the specific needs of that topic rather than the very general principles of Wikipedia. If Wikipedia could then accept AboutUs as the source of authoritative website information and simply link back to it where reference to a website was required: well, that could be the start of something considerably more useful.