wikipedia

College Students Use, Love, Are Aware Of The Limitations Of Wikipedia

How Today’s College Students Use Wikipedia For Course-Related Research:

Overall, college students use Wikipedia. But, they do so knowing its limitation. They use Wikipedia just as most of us do — because it is a quick way to get started and it has some, but not deep, credibility.

52% of respondents use Wikipedia frequently or always, typically at near the beginning at the start of research (70%). Science and engineering majors are most likely to use Wikipedia at some stage, but those in two-year institutions are less likely than those in four-year programs to us it.

Those who asked a librarian were less likely to use Wikipedia. Can we conclude that students are choosing between librarians and Wikipedia for information to start their research?

How Wikipedia Works

When Phoebe Ayers isn’t hanging out at ROFLcon she’s probably doing something related to Wikipedia, so I’m looking forward to reading How Wikipedia Works: And How You Can Be a Part of It.

Extra points: Phoebe and her co-authors somehow convinced their publisher to release the entire work under the GFDL, the same license Wikipedia uses. You could read the entire thing online for free, but that’s the easy part. What will you do to return the value? (Remember, Andrew Keen is watching.)

Where Do They Find The Time?

Clay Shirky recently posted (wayback) a transcript of his Web 2.0 Expo keynote. …If you take Wikipedia as a kind of unit, all of Wikipedia, the whole project — every page, every edit, every talk page, every line of code, in every language that Wikipedia exists in — that represents something like the cumulation of 100 million […] » about 500 words

Wikipedia The Wonder

Middlebury College banned it, but 46% of college students and 50% of college grads use it.

Twelve year olds point out errors in its competition, while those over 50 are among its smallest demographic — just 29% (Just! 29%!) say they’ve used it.

It’s Wikipedia, of course, and the numbers come from a recent Pew Internet Project memo reporting that Wikipedia is used by 36% of the online population and is one of the top ten destinations on the web.

Please, Not Another Wiki

Ironic secret: I don’t really like most wikis, though that’s probably putting it too strongly. Ironic because I love both Wikipedia (and, especially, collabularies), but I grit my teeth pretty much every time I hear somebody suggest we need another wiki. Putting it tersely: if wikis are so great, why do we need more than […] » about 500 words

Middlebury College vs. Wikipedia

Middlebury College is proud to have taken a stand against Wikipedia this year:

Members of the Vermont institution’s history department voted unanimously in January to adopt the statement, which bans students from citing the open-source encyclopedia in essays and examinations.

Without entirely dismissing Wikipedia — “whereas Wikipedia is extraordinarily convenient and, for some general purposes, extremely useful…” — the decision paints it with a broad brush — “as educators, we are in the business of reducing the dissemination of misinformation.” (Though a site search reveals it’s frequently cited there.)

Chandler Koglmeier’s op-ed response in the student newspaper, however, was rather pointed:

[Professor Waters’ states that] “the articles can improve over time, but there’s always an [emphasis on] change rather than something finalized.” I wasn’t aware that knowledge was a static thing. […] I think you should talk to our nation’s medical schools. They seem to have advanced beyond the world of Hippocrates and the Greek doctors in the past few years and might be teaching something that is dangerous.

Intrigue, indeed. My question is how will Middlebury students be taught to evaluate their information sources after they leave college? Who will tell them what to trust then?

The Onion Greets Wikimania

Wikimania is about to start, but here, the ever-topical Onion folk are poking fun at Wikipedia.

What is there to say when “America’s finest news source” casts aspersions on the world’s newest encyclopedia with the headline Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years Of American Independence?

Extra: watch out for Meredith Farkas‘ panel presentation on wikis and enabling library knowledgebases. I should have thought of this in the context of Ryan Eby’s question about librarians going to non-library conferences.

Looking At Controversy Through The Eyes Of Britannica and Wikipedia

The argument about Wikipedia versus Britannica continues to rage in libraryland. The questions are about authority and the likelihood of outright deception, of course, and a recent round brought up the limitations of peer review as exemplified in the 1989 cold fusion controversy, where two scientists claimed to have achieved a nuclear fusion reaction at […] » about 700 words

Nature Concludes Wikipedia Not Bad

Fresh from Nature: a peer reveiw comparison of Wikipedia’s science coverage against Encyclopaedia Britannica:

One of the extraordinary stories of the Internet age is that of Wikipedia, a free online encyclopaedia that anyone can edit. This radical and rapidly growing publication, which includes close to 4 million entries, is now a much-used resource. But it is also controversial: if anyone can edit entries, how do users know if Wikipedia is as accurate as established sources such as Encyclopaedia Britannica?

Several recent cases have highlighted the potential problems. One article was revealed as falsely suggesting that a former assistant to US Senator Robert Kennedy may have been involved in his assassination. And podcasting pioneer Adam Curry has been accused of editing the entry on podcasting to remove references to competitors’ work. Curry says he merely thought he was making the entry more accurate.

However, an expert-led investigation carried out by Nature — the first to use peer review to compare Wikipedia and Britannica’s coverage of science — suggests that such high-profile examples are the exception rather than the rule. (link added)

Go read the whole story.

Who’s Afraid Of Wikipedia?

Arguments about Wikipedia‘s value and authority will rage for quite a while, but it’s interesting to see where the lines are being drawn. On the one had we’ve got a 12 year-old pointing out errors in Encyclopaedia Britannica (via Many2Many) and now on the other side we’ve got John Seigenthaler, a former editorial page editor […] » about 500 words

Is Search Rank Group-think?

Way back in April 1997, Jakob Nielsen tried to educate us on Zipf Distributions and the power law, and their relationship to the web. This is where discussions of the Chris Anderson’s Long Tail start, but the emphasis is on the whole picture, not just the many economic opportunities at the end of the tail. […] » about 400 words

Findability, The Google Economy, and Libraries

Peter Morville, author of Ambient Findability, stirred up the web4lib email list with a message about Authority and Findability. His message is about how services like Wikipedia and Google are changing our global information architecture and the meaning of “authority.” The reaction was quick, and largely critical, but good argument tests our thinking and weeds […] » about 400 words

The Google Economy — The Wikipedia Entry

I’m rather passionate about the Google Economy, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to learn that I just wrote about it in my first ever Wikipedia entry. Here it is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_economy “Google Economy” identifies the concept that the value of a resource can be determined by the way that resource is linked […] » about 600 words

Wikipedia API?

I want Wikipedia to have an API, but it doesn’t. Some web searching turned up Gina Trapani’s WikipedizeText, but that still wasn’t exactly what I wanted. A note in the source code, however, put me back on the trail to the Wikipedia database downloads, and while that’s not what I want, I did learn that they’ve got a table of just the article titles (over 1.2 million of them) in their downloads.

Some of this is related to my interest in making Wikipedia work better in an academic library context, but I’ve got other plans too. With luck, we’ll see a beta release this week.

Jimmy Wales’ Free Culture Manifesto

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia and director of the Wikimedia Foundation, is working on his keynote for the Wikimania conference in Frankfurt. Ross Mayfield at Many2Many posted a preview and gives some background. What should we expect? Wales’ speech touches on ten things necessary for Free Culture:

  • Free the Encyclopedia!
  • Free the Dictionary!
  • Free the Curriculum!
  • Free the Music!
  • Free the Art!
  • Free the File Formats!
  • Free the Maps!
  • Free the Product Identifiers!
  • Free the TV Listings!
  • Free the Communities!

Mayfield offers more description of each item, go read it.

The Google Economy Vs. Libraries

Roger over at Electric Forest is making some arguments about the value of open access to information. Hopefully he’ll forgive me for my edit of his comment (though readers check the original to make sure I preserved the original meaning):

…keep the [information] under heavy protection and you will find that people ignore this sheltered content in favor of the sources that embrace the web and make everything accessible… [Open and accessible resources] will become the influential authorities, not because they are more trustworthy, or more authoritative, or better written, but because they are more accessible.

I’ve been calling this the “Google Economy,” where the value of information is directly proportional to its accessibility. This is a foreign land to libraries, where isolation and division of information is the norm (just count the number of unrelated search boxes linked on your library site), but it’s something I see a few people working to overcome. Kudos to Roger and others for a lot of great work.

Wikipedia and Libraries

Wikipedia seems to get mixed reviews in the academic world, but I don’t fully understand why. There are those that complain that they can’t trust the untamed masses with such an important task as writing and editing an encyclopedia, then there are others that say you can’t trust the experts with it either. For my […] » about 400 words