sun20aug2006—33w232d63%— 23h59m00s—0utc

Man’s achievements rest upon the use of [short] symbols.

Alfred Korzybski

Wikipedia has become such a taken-for-granted, basic building-block (on the web and beyond) that I’ve taken a special hatred for the unwieldy, clumsy “Wikipedia article” epithet and similar unhappy permutations. I need more of the short sweetness English is known for: “email”, “web”, “net”, “blog”, “post”, “podcast”, “inbox”, or “feed”. Language is the ultimate interface (to steal an ALA title) and shortness does make a difference.

English GMail’s Sidebar

Spanish GMail’s Sidebar

I tried “article” and “wiki-article” but both are hopelessly general. Then I thought of being grammatically incorrect and use wikipedia for articles themselves — similar to the way we use email for the email address, the actual message, and the act of sending it: “email me an email at my email” — but it just won’t do. It doesn’t feel right. Wikipedia is so huge that the brutal metonymy WP feels jarring. Port-manteaus WP were tried, but neither wikipedicle nor wicle struck any fancy.

The only path that proved fruitful was twisted back-formation. Wikipedia comes, of course, from encyclopedia, which in turn comes from the Greek phrase enkuklios paideia, often translated as “general education.” Paideia is a nice, short Greek word that means education and that is itself a derivation of pais, child. It’s perfect (with a slight respelling).

I propose we call a Wikipedia article a pedia. It’s short, has a nice ring to it, has meaning (“a pedia is a document for learning”), is memorable, and has a semantic link with Wikipedia (the uninitiated might think it a contraction and that’d be okay too). With even the pettiest pedia gradually refining into a massive, referenced survey (take the optimistic leap with me for the sake of argument), wouldn’t it be beautiful and inspiring if we could whisperingly call them “documents-for-learning”?

Did you know “thruthiness” has a pedia?

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