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Posts Tagged ‘wikipedia’

Update: Here’s Knol-ly

Google has finally unveiled their Wikipedia competition, called Knol. There are a good number of articles already written and the authorship of articles remains a very impressive feature. The ability to have closed collaboration and feedback from users that can be taken into consideration, allows for a much less volatile system for editing.

I will be curious to see how far this project goes towards attaining the role of a timely and peer reviewed collaborative encyclopedia.

Related posts of mine:

Knol’s Fair in Love and Wikis

Change is Scary

Gear Changer

On June 3rd 2008 Encyclopedia Britannica announced their new vision for their online encyclopedia. Though many comments have centered around how Britannica has collapsed under the pressure of WIkipedia’s fame, I don’t believe this movement towards a more expansive reference tool is equivalent to the Wikipedia model. Taken from their announcement post:

These efforts not only will improve the scope and quality of Encyclopaedia Britannica, but they’ll also allow expert contributors and readers to supplement this content with their own. The result will be a place with broader and more relevant coverage for information seekers and a welcoming community for scholars, experts, and lay contributors.

One of the main fears, that countless voices echo, is that Wikipedia is unverified drivel created by vandals and impish recluses.  The more immediate truth is that Wikipedia has grown from a volatile collection of obscure popular culture facts to a burgeoning model of how dynamic information creation can be. The community of editors have brokered for more control over substantial articles and have reduced the opportunities for article vandalism to a near minimal concern. But yet many educators pan its possibilities by citing the established comfort of traditional resources. Then this change was introduced.

The interesting thing is that Britannica isn’t suggesting that they jettison their core of scholarly knowledge and replace it with “Joe Public’s” views on the British monarchy. Instead they are inviting scholars and experts in the field to contribute to their content and supplement the communal resource with their own work. From what I could ascertain from the original announcement, lay users would have contribution rights to a connected aspect of the “core” knowledge base. This means that they most probably wouldn’t be able to edit the main entries but would possibly have their own work and commentary be associated with related topics. Though this may not seem like a lucrative endeavor, the ability to have your work be dispersed into the scholarly community could help new authors gain a foothold into their academic endeavors via this new peer review outlet.

The one thing that concerns me is that under the proposed model there is the possibility that each user could be editing existing content, which then becomes a new piece of content separate from the original in some manner. The concept of thousands of slightly altered versions of one piece of information seems rather unnerving to me. Hopefully they can iron out these types of concepts before the full release.

For another model similar to this you may want to check out an earlier posting entitled:

Knol’s Fair in Love and Wiki’s

Google Maps now with more info

Google has recently made some very interesting developments in their map content(from Cnet).  Along with the user created maps, geo-tagged photographs, and related local ads; users can now find Wikipedia entries relating to geographically linked sites.  Once you are in the general area of the location you are curious about, simply hit the “more” tab to see Wikipedia entries and photos.  The short informational blurbs are taken from the Wikipedia entry and allow users to seamlessly browse into more information.

Granted, if you don’t trust Wikipedia this service may be more annoying than useful, but I wish that everything had a little more information on Google maps.  Now if they would just show Flickr photos on there and not just ones from Panoramio…

Maybe an institution can start working on adding not only historic photos to the mix but related historical information gleaned from other data sources and archived materials.  Hmmm sounds like we need a grant…

See also:

Stephen Francouer on Wikipedia vs. Other resources

I Still Can’t Find the Any key!

05/01/2008 1 comment

Making the rounds on many blogs and dlists is the article from the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled, “A Sociologist Says Students Aren’t So Web-Wise After All.”

Eszter Hargittai, the sociologist involved, asserts the claim made that just because students are of the younger generation it doesn’t justly follow that they will be more “Web-savvy.” According to Dr. Hargittai college freshmen are often unable to exhibit a  “basic understanding of such terms as BCC (blind copy on e-mail), podcasting, and phishing.”  She goes on to claim that such deficiencies could relate to students not realizing the volatility of such online tools as Wikipedia and how they are created and maintained.

For the most part, this statement seems to hinge on the assumption that being “Web-savvy” directly relates to the level of knowledge about “how” these systems work and not on “how” to make these systems complete the tasks they are designed to do.  The aspect of this issue that really needs more attention is the acceptance of technology in their tasks and rate of adaptability.  Sure they may not be able to speak WIki code just from looking at the published page, but would they understand the “document structure” in a faster time frame than the Baby-boomer generation?

I hope that this article, and the wave of “I told you so’s” from those questioning the skills of Gen-Y, won’t be used as ammo to  negate the development of advanced technology services.  We have an open road in front of us for sharing information with those who are “Web-savvy” and possibly even inspiring the next generation of web geniuses.  On the flip-side, I whole-heartedly support assessing student skill levels in technology competencies.  I would go so far as to start pushing for a standardized assessment tool to be rolled into our library instruction tools.  It would not only help instruct the students but their faculty and ourselves at the same time.

For those who missed it the first time, here is a post in which I talked about issues such as this in longer detail.

Where’s the Any key?

Cloudy days for searching?

01/07/2008 1 comment

cloudy field

In the competition for online search dominance, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has unveiled a new way to search the web in Search Wikia.   For a full description of this revelation you may want to read the PC World article from Monday, January 7th.

For those who don’t know, Wikia is a socially driven collection of topic based community wikis.  Or in layman’s terms–people talking about the same thing and editing the information about that thing in a shared web site. About Wikia.
The search side of Wikia is meant to remain true to the aims of open-source and provide free information, controlled by the people who know it best.  It also rests  on the concept of user generated feedback being a force in crafting the content; thereby removing the reins of some proprietary company (insert corporate name here: Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.)  The concept is sound but requires quite a bit of input before any acknowledgeable results are seen.

The results are displayed with a “mini-article” at the top, if there is one created.  (Though they seem to frown on personal blogs and individual mini-articles.)  In essence, the “mini-article” is a light version of a Wikipedia entry and may be edited by those associated or with some factual knowledge.  The information also may contain images, which can be uploaded and applied by individuals.  To the right a result box for people matching your search terms appears.  This information is generated through the Wikia profiles you create in order to use the system to its fullest.  For instance, if someone typed in Google as a search term, then the “People matching “google” results may include a programmer who works at Google or maybe someone who really loves GoogleMaps, and put that in their profile.

I really like the social aspect being brought into the mix, but fear that it will only get so far as it takes so much to get input from  the public at large.  Of course all great concepts have to start somewhere, so if you have the time give it a whirl and see what you think.

I did want to mention how much this move reminds me of the Google Knol project and the possibilities I hinted at for Google searching with Knol.  (See my other post here.)