Wikipedia is today widely used but often criticized from many corners, including, notably, from its own co-founder Larry Sanger. While some do little more question anything from the reliability of Wikipedia’s content as a source of information, to the health of its governance – others – like Sanger – are looking for ways to come up with better alternatives.
In fact, some alternatives already exist, but it was always going to be an uphill struggle for anyone to displace an online platform that’s as dominant and entrenched as Wikipedia.
Enter actor Chris Evans, ten-times Captain America and superhero movie veteran. Evans is now dedicating his efforts to building “an online platform organized into tidy sections – immigration, health care, education, the economy – each with a series of questions of the kind most Americans can’t succinctly answer themselves.”
In other words, a kind of Wikipedia alternative? Perhaps not. The “tidiness” mentioned here that should differentiate it from the established giant refers to condensing and shortening content because, apparently, nobody likes to read long articles. Instead, Evans will offer “the TL;DR on WTF is happening in American politics.”
That’s another thing – Evans’ project doesn’t aim to be anything as universal in the topics it covers as, say, Wikipedia. It will be all about politics, looking no doubt to capitalize on this being a year of US elections – but also promising to provide perspectives from “both sides” of any issue it covers.
In order to provide these answers on the site – which will be called A Starting Point (Evans might want to look into abbreviating that name) – the actor plans on recording 1,000 bite-size, one-minute videos with politicians in Washington explaining various issues. And he promises “to hear both sides.”
Evans’ goals? To “create” informed, responsible and empathetic citizens. He also wants to see less partisanship, more respectful discourse, and, “get more people involved in politics.”
The Verge – perhaps a little salty that this highly clickable story about a Hollywood star who wants to right the wrongs of US politics and society was originally reported by Wired – remains overall negative about the premise of Evan’s project, and its likelihood of succeeding.
The article’s author doesn’t think that Congress members and their ilk are the best source of information, anyway – nor that exposed people to different points of view as a means of reducing polarization and partisanship actually works.