Why the head-scratching on why Amazon invested in Wikia?

(From the day-late news department.) VentureBeat says in reporting an investment by Amazon in Wikia, “It’s not clear how much traction Wikia company has gained.”

Here’s a little history. Despite the hype of Wikipedia, the Internet Movie Database is — at least at the philosophical level — the community-built encyclopedic resource (started first in 1990 as a resource for a movie listserv) that has provided — at least at the inspirational level — a role model for all that which has come since: including wikis and Wikipedia and Wikia. I’m not referring to wiki technology and its read-write approaches, which are a nuance that only perhaps 1% of Internet users will ever understand. I’m referring to the “let’s all combine what we know and hyperlink the heck out of it so all this random information starts making sense in different ways” approach that IMDb has inspired.)

So why do I bring up IMDb? On April 28, 1998, Amazon acquired it. At the time, Jeff Bezos said, “Ever since I first visited IMDb’s site, I’ve been simply amazed by the quality and depth of their content.”

It may not be clear to Venture Beat how much traction Wikia has, but I trust Bezos on this one. One more note: Amazon (you remember, the whole “reviews” thing they started) is powered by “social media.”

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