Posted by knockels on 13 February, 2009
Read recently an interesting piece on the Guardian blogs, by Marcel Berlins. He starts by arguing that Wikipedia is fundamentally flawed, as it allows anyone to edit without having their credentials checked. As evidence for this he cites some examples of people’s biographies being inaccurate (people being declared dead, for example, when they are not – mind you, the Guardian obits page itself has done this, I think). But he ends by saying that to change Wikipedia so that this vetting occurs would be unmanageable, and therefore we need to accept that its usefulness comes at a price.
This has set me thinking. I can see that articles about things where political opinions generate a lot of heat might well be open to abuse or misuse, with frequent edits and more opinions than fact. I would be loath to see medical students rely on Wikipedia when there are sources with more obvious provenance available.
But I suspect that articles about things where there are plenty of enthusastic amateurs (morris dancing, for example) may be very useful, up to date, and accurate, and that the discussion page attached to the article will document all the angels dancing on the head of a pin sort of arguments that ensue.
I run a web evaluation exercise with second year genetics students, where they choose two websites from a list I supply. One has to be one that they think is suitable to use in academic work (and they have a list of criteria to use to help them evaluate), and the other one one that is unsuitable. Some of the sites are obviously fine, and others obviously not, but I have included a Wikipedia page. Last year was interesting, and this year will be too, I think!
Posted in Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: evaluation, wikipedia | 7 Comments »
Posted by gazjjohnson on 5 January, 2009
Keith’s just passed me along a link to an article entitled “Who the hell writes Wikipedia“. Well me for one, but I’d point you in the direction of the original article and encourage you to read it.
Wikipedia’s an old point of discussion among librarians. There’s the debate I (and many other librarians) have had over the years around the conundrum “should we support the students in using wikipedia?“ That’s a broad question on which much has been written or said. I’m certainly not going to try and answer it; other than to admit that since I use it and edit it I’d be a hypocrite not to point my students towards it (along with other resources).
I do have issues that the “encylopedia written by everyone” can boil down to “what’s commonly believed” in some cases (e.g. the whole word knows you can have your appendix removed but I’d only trust a handful of people to tell me how!), but used responsibly it’s great.
One thing that fascinates me about wiki though, is the living way in which it organically grows and develops. As the article suggests many pages start out chaotic but overtime (and ignoring periodic vandalism) reach a certain homeostatic equilibrium. While I was watching Celeb Big Brother last Friday* I had open the wiki page for the show and watched the page build itself, refine, develop, get vandalised and finally protected from further amendments by wiki editors.
That’s one of the things I love about Web 2.0 apps – watching information evolve before your eyes. I’d love to study these patterns in more depth as I’m sure they’re able to tell us a lot about people’s information providing habits, not to mention their networking interactions. But these days that’s more Alan’s remit than mine.
*Not from choice!
Posted in Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: editing, information provision, refelction, wikipedia | 2 Comments »
Posted by sarahw9 on 17 October, 2008
The many uses of Wikipedia to libraries is explored in Putting the Library in Wikipedia by Lauren Pressley and Carolyn J. McCallum. They begin by pointing out that people look to Wikipedia before looking at any traditional library resources on any topic, and that traffic to library websites it dimishing.
Yes we need get our heads together to look at ways to use Wikipedia. There is the information literacy angle; there have been attempts to integrate it into information literacy education (getting students to edit pages) but with limited success as students often don’t like to do something so public. There is also the idea of editing the University of Leicester entry, creating one for the library, working to get our collections in there. Some of the logistical issues (such as not being ‘selfpromoting’) are considered in this article.
It is also a big change of direction for libraries and librarians – actually going out, editing / creating material for the whole world to see in the name of their library. Very web 2.0 in fact.
Have I just got myself another job to do?!
Posted in Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: information literacy, special collections, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies, wikipedia | 5 Comments »