Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Open Knowledge and Wikipedia

Catch Up

I need to write a summary of Week 8.  I have been busy at work, I have been busy at home and I have been busy on the golf course.  I haven’t devoted the time that I should have to the week, so now here I am at the end of Week 8 and I had a lot of catching up to do.

I am fascinated by Wikipedia.  I have used the site time and time again over the last two or three years and never really thought too much about veracity, quality, gender bias, management of the site and who does and does not contribute.  I have never made a contribution.  Perhaps I should one day.  Recently I visited the site of some dinosaur footprints in Zimbabwe and found something original that I could contribute to Wikipedia.  However, not for now as I am too busy on this course – and as I have stated already, other activities in my abnormally busy life of a 70 year old.


I read Tom Simonite’s critical comments about Wikipedia, and yes, there just has to be some holes that need filling.   His report is not concise but it is surely complete.  Titled 'The Decline of Wikipedia' he complains largely of the quality of information, the disillusionment of many of the contributors, the gender bias of the contributors and the authoritarian management by the administrators.

From the Editor

Then I listened to Jake Orlowitz - a Wikipedia editor and administrator.  His passion for his work is obvious.  I liked his talk about the Medical facts, the opportunities and challenges of producing information that is of high quality and most of all, correct.   One of my friends went to the doctor the other day and was told he had the beginnings of what might be a cholesterol problem.  His doctor told him to search the web for information on diet.  He found what he wanted on Wikipedia.  Hopefully the information was correct, but then every dietician and health fanatic has a different take on what we should and shouldn't eat.

In a You-tube video titled Community, Cooperation, and Conflict in Wikipedia – with John Riedl a report was provided but at 1.25 hours long and my limited internet speed, this was not reviewed by me.


To summarise my view – for ordinary people like me to ‘find what I’m looking for’ in sometimes very obscure requirements for knowledge, Wikipedia definitely offers a starting point.

The originators and the current management team must be commended for their vision of a world in which every person on the planet shares the sum of all human knowledge

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