Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Wikipedia and the social element of knowledge

Wikipedia is an amazing online encyclopedia, whose entries and definitions/explanations are chosen and developed by its users. For most topics, this leads to pretty strong entries, with knowledgable readers tweaking faulty definitions, inclusion of good footnotes and links to related entries, etc. -- and, in fact, it has been shown that major errors are usually corrected within minutes to hours. But you can easily imagine the abuse as well, as when the entry for a particularly charged topic is constantly rewritten by opposing camps (or lone crazies) with their own agendas. John Udell has an interesting piece on how Wikipedia handles such controversial topics, both through the transparency of its editing process (whose whole history is stored) and through the tagging of unsettled disputes. He argues, in essence, that this may better represent the way that "facts" are arrived at -- by a socially mediated process involving conflict and eventual resolution -- than any mere statement of one attempted neutral summary.

(via rc3.org)

5 comments:

PublicOrgTheory said...

I gave you a small shout-out at PublicOrgTheory for picking this up. By the way, how many people write for "Smoke-Filled Room"? It's one of my favorite blogs, especially with the scorecard.

ACM said...

I'm sure that much of my life would proceed more smoothly if ASFR were a group blog, but it's just lonely ol' ACM, using the netwaves as a means to self-education (and sharing the wealth, such as it is). Glad you like it! :)

PublicOrgTheory said...

You actually have time for two well-written blogs? You must be part of that liberal elite I've been hearing so much about...

So, about that wealth...

Anonymous said...

Apparently the Los Angeles Times is planning to put a wiki-editorial on line next week. I can't imagine how (or that) this will work. I guess it's better than the NY Times decision to hide stuff away...
CKR

Anonymous said...

btw, that's via Kevin Drum