Tuesday, December 06, 2005

wikipedia

I posted the following to oz-teachers in response to criticisms of wikipedia and the internet as a reliable information source

wikipedia has been criticised here:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1599116,00.html
or http://tinyurl.com/d7d2e

My reading of that article is that the wikipedia entries are not perfect but also in most cases fairly reliable

Wikipedia is free and convenient - how many of us actually are ready to buy the latest Britannica, how many of us have access to a comprehensive library 24 hours a day?

There is a broader issue involved here too - the explosion of knowledge, cost and the future of the categorisation of information

Wikipedia is a very worthwhile experiment in developing a free peer to peer electronic encyclopedia - many said it was impossible but it is successful and becoming more so every day

Professional librarians have superior knowledge retrieval and categorisation skills - they are an essential but expensive resource

But because of the cost factors and knowledge explosion the professional librarian approach is not going to work on the internet

The comments in this thread along the lines that the internet is a pile of uninformed and opinionated junk of course are partly true but that is only relevant if there are not good ways available on the internet to search for reliable information of significance to the searcher

The truth of the matter is that internet technology (search, RSS feeds, bottom up taxonomies, group blogs of experts etc.) has dramatically improved the ability of the informed user to extract quality information from the internet - it really doesn't matter if it's 99% junk if you know how to find the 1% gold - and the technology to achieve this is improving all the time

It's a good idea to support really promising experiments like wikipedia because things like that are showing us one way forward about how to categorise reliable information in the new digital media which is in the process of replacing the old print media

1 Comments:

Anonymous Chris Harvey said...

Thank you Bill

9:24 PM  

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