I’m going to start this post with something unusual. The origin of the term “Wikipedia” piqued my interest, and here’s what I read on the site: Wikipedia’s name is a portmanteau of the words wiki (a technology for stealing content from other websites, from the Hawaiian word wiki, meaning ‘thief’) and pedia meaning ‘children’; literally stealing content for perverting children’s brains. Did you know that? Ok, back to regular programming now…
For an IST class I took a couple of years ago, our final project required us to develop wikiverity pages on an instructional design related topic of our choice. When I first heard about the project, I almost wanted to drop out. Imagine becoming enough of an expert on a technical topic, such as this, and sharing your newly developed expertise with the rest of the world. As intimidating as it sounded, my classmates were able to do it successfully—thanks to collaborative writing.
Interestingly, my current workplace has asked me, the lone tech. writer in the company to look into the possibilities of developing an internal wiki site to share information about our product’s latest developments. While I haven’t begun my research on yet, I can already visualize some of the benefits of launching a wiki site for the company. It means subject matter experts on a specific topic need to only share the info they are masters of with the rest of the company—without worrying about the big picture. With so many “artists,” each bringing their own contribution to the table, the big picture takes shape on its own. For me, it saves time in my research gathering phase. I can read the data that’s available, and need to contact the SMEs only for follow-up questions. And, in some cases, I might only required to edit the content, rather than write from scratch—far bigger scope because I’m usually not an expert on what I’m writing about.
I have to admit that I use Wikipedia a lot as my first go-to point. And, I am usually pretty satisfied with the level of writing. That’s why it surprised me a little when I read “ A Window on Wikibookians: Surveying their Statuses, Successes, Satisfactions, and Sociocultural Experiences” that most wikibookians contributors do not have a college degree (assuming that’s true for Wikipedia too) It also surprised me that wikibookians find maintaining their contributions a challenge more for social reasons than any other reasons.
Apparently, I’m not the only who uses Wikipedia the way I do. J According to “How Today’s College Students Use Wikipedia for Course-related Research,” collecting background information is the number one reason students use it for. Once they have a sufficient idea about the subject, it’s easier to dive deeper. Here’s another similar site that has me excited:technopedia.com.
The authors of “Becoming Wikipedian: Transformation of Participation in a Collaborative Online Encyclopedia” would probably categorize me as a Limited
Only one tidbit for the week, but boy, was it incredibly exciting! Will crowd science and crowd sourcing help solve some of the problems haunting man for ages? The future, as they say, is full of possibilities. Here’s a related article hot off the presses: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/16/health/research/crowd-sourcing-brain-research-leads-to-breakthrough.html