Wiki… Wikipe… Wikipedia!
Posted by Chelsea Dowling
Thriving online. This brief, but astute concept really makes me step back and re-read it over and over again to really try and understand if it is even possible to thrive online. In this day in age, when we are so seemingly inundated with information – how can we possible muddle through it all?
In reading the Net Smart How to Thrive Online by Howard Rheingold, there were two primary components that I really honed in on. One of the primary concepts was this idea around attention literacy, which the phenomenon of multi-tasking and online activities in search of information.
For example as I was writing this blog post for this week, I was looking up a few thoughts on my end idea and while I had those pages up on Google Chrome, I went searching for what a used pop-up camper might cost (I just in fact had a conversation where I was thinking about possibly purchasing one from a friend). I then went back to find more resources for my post, but then I started wondering – what if the camper is dingy inside? Can I remodel a pop-up camper? So I went online hunting to find if others had this same thought and what ideas they might have had in redoing their pop-up camper (as you’ll find below – there are some neat ideas out there). I finally told myself I had to stop and get to writing my blog post or I was not going to get it done – but then I had to wonder about how I would pull the camper since my vehicle is clearly in a dark place, I would need something different in order to make that happen…
Scattered thoughts (Source: Ironically from a site called Wikimedia)
This image – clearly marks this idea of gaining proper attention towards our online use. But I think, even in my brief example, we can see how having an information genius at our fingertips can really have an impact on this natural “task switching” tendency we have as humans (Rheingold, 2014).
The second concept was equally as intriguing for me to ponder and that was around this idea of “crap detection” (Rheingold, 2014) on the internet. As Rheingold put it, the rule of thumb for crap detection “is to make skepticism your default” (p. 77).
Source: Natalie Dee
But as I read through these thoughts, one of the most interesting correlations I had was this idea of Wikipedia and interchanging that with crap detection. Now I am assuming everyone reading this will know what Wikipedia is, but if not, it is essentially an online free encyclopedia tool. One of the arguments that Rheingold makes in his book, is the idea of creating and developing online collaborative tools and social communities. In fact, Rheingold goes on to say that “web-based tools are particularly important because wikis enable people to collaborate in ways that challenge basic assumptions underlying modern economic theory and contradict older stereotypes regarding human motivation to cooperate.”
This is even more thought provoking as we think about how Wikipedia is often viewed – especially in academia. Without a doubt, Wikipedia is one of the most accessed online tools for gathering information, but we often here from professors that in academia world, Wikipedia is not a credible source. In fact, even Wikipedia says that they are not as they state on their site, “citation of Wikipedia in research papers may be considered unacceptable, because Wikipedia is not considered a credible or authoritative source.” One of the underlying concerns is the amount of editing rights people have – essentially anyone can go in there and edit it.
But what if it were a credible and authoritative source of information? According to Rheingold, this online social network can in fact be a greater asset in terms of collective action. And let’s not forget about the Encyclopedia books we had for year’s growing up. I think I had the same Encyclopedia set in my house for over 15 years. How is that useful and correct information?
But the big question is in the long-term, will Wikipedia become an established tool / credible source that can be used to collect accurate information? Or do you think we will not ever feel like this would be a credible source from a social network perspective?
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