cathy davidson of duke on the value of wikipedia 03.20.2007, 11:36 AM
posted by bob stein
Cathy Davidson at Duke continues to impress me with her willingness to publicly take on complicated issues. Here's a link to an article she wrote for this week's Chronicle of Higher Education (re-blogged on the Hastac site) in which she takes one of the most progressive and positive stances in relation to Wikipedia that i've seen from a senior and highly regarded scholar. [and here's a link to a piece i wrote a few months back which takes on Jaron Lanier's critique of Wikipedia.]
Richard Pfeiffer on March 20, 2007 8:28 PM:
Language Log, a popular linguistics blog, has a recent post that speaks volumes about the promise of Wikipedia in one important area. The post, called "What? How?" -- "Wikipedia.", quotes a linguistics professor:
In my large intro course yesterday, there was an unfamiliar hand in the air a lot of the time, and the student's questions and insights were the best I've had all semester. It was puzzling, because I didn't recognize him, and he seemed to know much more about syntax than one would expect. (It was our first official day on the topic.)
After class, he came to the front and introduced himself as a prospective student, just out of high school. He said linguistics was his passion in high school. I said, "What? How?" And he replied, "Wikipedia".
Wikipedia's opponents often speak eloquently -- but does anything they say come even close to the simple truth of this vignette?
sol gaitan on March 22, 2007 12:22 PM:
It is refreshing to have a straightforward evaluation of the learning possibilities that experiments on collaborative knowledge in networked environments can bring to today's students. As I mentioned elsewhere here, we continue to follow teaching patterns devised in the Industrial revolution. Society is adapting faster because the economic opportunities are too good to ignore. Fortunately, some academics are willing to mine the rich vein of transparent intellectual search. Assignment Zero is an example of such experimentation. It is a collaboration between Wired magazine and NewAssignment.Net, the experimental journalism site established by Jay Rosen, professor of journalism at NYU, looking to use the combined reporting efforts of the crowd in what has been called "crowdsourcing." The idea is to open a story to readers as soon as it is known, blurring the separation between source and reader, and as in Wikipedia, have it edited, in this case by veteran journalists, as it is typically done in news media.
The idea of treating process as content, which has been constantly examined by the Institute for the Future of the Book, is explored as a way to enrich the story in order to produce better journalism. The concept of "radical transparency," and its impact on media, was presented by Chris Anderson here. Collaborative reporting makes a story relevant well beyond its original publication, because the first version is expanded and updated by its readers. Keeping both the original story and the changes in-between, is the equivalent of what Unamuno called "intrahistoria;" history as communal process.
Science also calls upon the crowd. Meteorologists rely on spotters to report what is actually happening in the skies when their radar show storm patterns suggesting tornado formation. The National Weather Service has trained and used spotters since the 1970s. There are about 280,000 of them in the US, ranging from meteorologists to amateur radio operators, retirees and even high school students. (As reported on NPR yesterday.
A passionate amateur, an engaged student, can be the conveyor of more information than many PhDs with whom one has come across. Digital technologies are powerful tools for interaction, sharing, and creation. If research is losing its conservative, authoritative self, this should be taken as the opportunity to delve into the excitement of witnessing, and participating in, how knowledge is formed.