An Article About H2G2 (for "Pulp" - the Manchester Met stutent magazine)

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The internet. Isn't it a wonderful thing? There's all the information you could ever need about everything! And lots and lots of useless waffle. Somewhere there must be a solution. What happens when you need to know about Astronomical Distance Scales, or you're going to visit a town you've never been to and you need to know what there is to do there, or how to get there?

There is an answer, and that answer may well lie in

Inspired by the cult phenomenon of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, written by Douglas Adams, H2G2 uses the internet to put the electronic book at the centre of the Hitchhikers Guide into reality. Adams launched the initiative officially on Tomorrow's World way back in 1999 and it's been going from strength to strength ever since. There are thousands of 'reporters' writing entries on their personal areas of expertise, as well as voicing their opinions, writing creatively and just passing the time of day with like-minded people. It's like a living encyclpoedia, with the added advantage of it being completely free and constantly explanding. Only a few 'edited' entries are added a day, but people are writing all the time - only a fraction of entries go into the edited guide, and often the most useful entry won't be an edited one.

Not long after its inception, the site was taken over by BBCi and is only one of many resources hosted by the BBC, but it surely has to be the one with the greatest potential. The whole of the edited guide is extremely well-written. People take great pride in getting one of their entries in, and go to great pains to make sure that it's fully researched, accessable and accurate. Most of the editorial process takes the form of 'peer review', where the researchers help each other to improve their entries. That most of this is done by unpaid researchers must be one of the greatest miracles of the internet. These people are writing because they have something to say, and they want to say it eloquently, and they want to make this guide the best it can be.

The result is a community of people supporting each other and creating what I'm sure will become one of the most useful resources on the web.

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