Wiki wiki everywhere, and not a drop of commonsense to be found

(Took me five minutes to log in to post this. I think my server and WordPress are ganging up on me to make sure I finish writing the my chapter by the end of the day. Evil.)

I have been watching the whole WIkipedia/Seigenthaler debacle like an avid hawk for many reasons, not just because it couldn’t come at a worse time as the godhead is at a conference this weekend bigging up the wiki, and we could do without anti-wiki press. I haven’t tried to form my thoughts into a coherent argument for many reasons, including that I’m worried it would end up being better written than the chapter I am currently struggling with, and that would just be heart-breaking.

Danah, as usual, though has written a wonderful article all about it, and I would like to bring to your attention her closing thoughts:

I am worried about how academics are treating Wikipedia and i think that it comes from a point of naivety. Wikipedia should never be the sole source for information. It will never have the depth of original sources. It will also always contain bias because society is inherently biased, although its efforts towards neutrality are commendable. These are just realizations we must acknowledge and support. But what it does have is a huge repository of information that is the most accessible for most people. Most of the information is more accurate than found in a typical encyclopedia and yet, we value encyclopedias as a initial point of information gathering. It is also more updated, more inclusive and more in-depth. Plus, it’s searchable and in the hands of everyone with digital access (a much larger population than those with encyclopedias in their homes). It also exists in hundreds of languages and is available to populations who can’t even imagine what a library looks like. Yes, it is open. This means that people can contribute what they do know and that others who know something about that area will try to improve it. Over time, articles with a lot of attention begin to be inclusive and approximating neutral. The more people who contribute, the stronger and more valuable the resource. Boycotting Wikipedia doesn’t make it go away, but it doesn’t make it any better either.

That’s all I have to say. Night all 🙂

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  1. Pingback: Bright Meadow » On Wikipedia and Archaeology

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