Thursday, May 15, 2008

Academic Status for wikipedia

I came across an interesting piece ... About Jimmy Wales discouraging the use of wikipedia for academic research. Interesting piece ... and, some folks have written some interesting comments, too. One of the things there is that a student could get a F for citing wikipedia as a source for their research. This makes sense to me. While the powerful search capabilities available to us should be used to replace the tedious hours spent at the library poring ver books, this search cannot be a substitute for research. Add to that the fact that not many students cite an encyclopaedia (even Britannica) on research papers.

But, this does bring out an interesting point ... that wikipedia is inaccurate. Definitely it is ... But then, so is the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Ok, so the number of errors per article (which is a measure of the accuracy of content) is higher with wikipedia, but the fact remains what number of errors is acceptable and what is not (which seems to be a measure of respectability) seems to be a matter of brand equity.

To add my two bits to this ... i would say that wikipedia would be an excellent source for information on anby topic ... its a good first step. Can be used to gain a basic understanding of the subject, could be used as an aggregator for other, more expert resources on the subject, and can be used to build up a platform for knowledge sharing. This would imply that a wiki can be a very useful tool for facilitating the flow of information, and not just as a repository itself. This distinction is an interesting one ... the repository has the responsibility of being accurate. But the facilitator for information sharing is more concerned about source, destination, and channel. And, the source and the destination ultimately are people, while the wiki itself can be the channel connecting these. A step in the direction of a knowledge marketplace?

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