Novelist Jonathan Dee plumbs the phenomenon that is Wikipedia: First it was a populist encyclopedia, increasingly it's populist journalism, and all along it's been a religious cult, populated by cybermonks working in isolation, often putting in long hours in their bedrooms on school nights. The amazing twist, he notes, is how well it works, getting most things right—eventually.
As Wikipedia has morphed from reference library to news source, its entries have become constantly updated and rewritten accounts of breaking news, aggregating what others have reported. And Wikipedians who've made it into the inner circle struggle to filter out not only mistakes and vandalism, but bias. Which, Dee notes, makes it almost old-fashioned.