If you read the front page of the Buffalo News yesterday (Sunday), you would have noticed the Wikipedia article written by Steve Watson. Yours truly was quoted in it, as well as fellow academics Derek Lackaff, Ken Fujiuchi and Alex Halavais (but of course!). While Steve’s talking point for Wikipedia was on the ever-popular mindset that it is unreliable (e.g. a politician’s battleground), we should remember how the same fate applies to other web sites as well.
Like other web sites…
There would still be untruths. One really has to practice caution and learn how to never take anything at face value. Check and check again by following through any link from any webpage before citing it. This is where information specialists such as librarians are most valued, for determining the validity of information.
Unlike other web sites…
Wikipedia comes under special attention because of its content. It is an online encyclopedia, where accuracy is paramount. This is especially so in Wikipedia’s case, since the utility of its content demands stricter control.
One good thing to come out of the public view of Wikipedia is the revival of trust. If the War of the World radio broadcast (1938) were to teach us anything, it would be to learn how to authenticate news sources.
BTW, I’ve much to learn when talking to the press…
See how real academics give colorful quotes:
Let’s start with me. I gave a pretty sterile quote saying that “I think [sites such as Wikipedia] are useful because, in a way, it’s one of the most democratic ways of sharing knowledge. We don’t have to rely on authorities to provide information” (yawn!)
College buddy Derek Lackaff was insightful by saying that “Wikipedia is forcing us to rethink conceptions of trust. I trust it as much as I trust any resource that’s on the Web” (spot-on!)
Tech Librarian Ken Fujiuchi mentioned how “the Oxford English Dictionary started out this way, hundreds of years ago, relying on volunteers to provide the definitions for words early on” (yay!)
And last but not least, Alex Halavais was probably in a higher state of conciousness that day when he said that “this is graffiti that builds a temple” (I’m simply not worthy!)