November 23, 2005
Amy's Wiki article response
Here are some of my initial thoughts on Wiki and our Wiki reading before the holiday (and the sleeping pill known as turkey!!) set in. To anyone on the blog before/during the holiday, Happy Thanksgiving!! Amy
I must admit: I just don’t “get” Wikipedia. I understand that it’s an online, user-edited encyclopedia and all that, I just do not understand the allure, or why someone would spend six hours a day writing articles for it (as the art historian from the article did). As such, I do not understand how Wikipedia is blooming the way it is. I am either out of the loop, not with the times, etc. or Wikipedia really is not representing such a wide body of users as it could be thought to be.
Though the article did not set out to explain the “why” question, I was able to draw a few reasons, none of which surprised me. As we have discussed in class, the free stuff quotient is high with Wiki and it’s a perfect tool for free and easy access to information (and some additions and corrections if you have them). This, though, does not explain the 52% of edits that are produced by the users who make 100+ edits per month (p. 20). Perhaps these kinds of figures can be explained by the fact that people want to make their work public and/or contribute to public Internet community. However, the above figure and others like it point to a commitment to these practices rather than a passing interest in “the new thing.” I don’t find this medium of digital history particularly threatening, I just must be missing something.
More to the point of Wiki and historical scholarship, however, I find the idea of Wiki as “the first draft of history” (p. 20) quite an intriguing one. Beyond the writing allusions, I think we could see in Wiki trends of historical interest from outside the world of the university; ideas that could indeed lead to the formation of new fields of interdisciplinary study. Wiki lends itself particularly well to interdisciplinary study by encouraging (though the technology of linking) relationships across seemingly unrelated topics. A Wiki user’s lack of “a command of the scholarly literature, [and] persuasive analysis and interpretations…” (p. 15) may be helpful in pointing out fresh ways to study various topics (an “organic intellectual” perhaps?)
Or not. Or the bland and/or disjointed Wiki prose could disguise any creative approach, leaving Wiki a collection of random, colorful facts. Given the growth of Wiki thus far, Wiki and the state of digital historical scholarship via Wiki in the future are uncertain. For my part at least, maybe I can finally make some sense of it to determine its appeal and then report back.
Posted by alechne1 at November 23, 2005 08:45 PM