Welcome to Wiki Week! This week’s we’ll be taking the collaborative ideas we’ve used in our mapping projects and apply them to a different kind of crowdsourced project.
First, you’ll read a chapter from Clay Shirky’s (remember him?) Here Comes Everybody that deals with wikis, Wikipedia, and the function of collaboration in communication. You can find this PDF in the “readings” folder on the main page of our class eCampus page.
For a light counterpoint, have a look at this article on wikigroaning from venerable humor site Something Awful (there are later installments here and here) – if you like your information more traditional, there’s also a story on the phenomenon in the Wall Street Journal). The argument is that collaborative works like Wikipedia tend to emphasize trivia and pop culture over substantive information. Consider, for example, that the entry for television program Grey’s Anatomy is almost seven times the length of the entry for seminal health handbook Gray’s Anatomy. (If you’re not easily offended, you can also have a look at this informative but characteristically profane entry from Encyclopedia Dramatica).
Whew. Let’s pull back from the chaos of Internet humor for a different approach. Philosopher Martin Cohen writes about who edits Wikipedia, what they edit, and why. With the above perspectives in mind, let’s consider the concepts of “wikiality” and “wikilobbying” (below; the last 30 seconds are an ignorable user-added rant on Fox News):
Finally, have a look at the Wikipedia page for our own P.I. Reed School of Journalism. Pay particular attention to those three little windows at the top of the page. These are Wikipedia standards alerts that indicate our entry isn’t up to snuff. How can we improve it?
What is your take on the function of wikis and wiki-like processes in communication and journalism today? How do concepts like wikiality and wikigroaning impact on the positive qualities made available by this new way of communicating? If you see it as a problem, how could the process be improved? And just what can we do about that J-school page? (hint hint …)
Respond by commenting on this post by the end of the day Monday, Feb. 22.