Vast Active Library and Information Science blog. From a recent library science graduate in Wellington, New Zealand. A focus on reference and current awareness tools and issues, especially free, web-based resources.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Social software  
OK, I'm well behind the curve here - Stephen has been discussing this in-depth for the past few weeks and once again I find my interests tagging on behind his (the first time being RSS, when reading Library Stuff got me interested in the subject in the first place).

Anyway, I've been very interested in some of the social tools I've been playing with recently. I made my first contribution to Wikipedia a few days ago. What's interesting to me is the whole notion of group accountability. The traditional approach to creating and organising knowledge assumes that this should be the task of experts - and this is what we're taught in library school - when we evaluate resources we look to the credibility of the author/editor/publisher. Now Wikipedia challenges that - it's not "organised", and contributions are made by anonymous posters, who could be anybody. Yet it works. Sure, anyone could edit a record to reflect a partisan agenda, or as a prank. But dozens of other people would correct it. A self-correcting system. Smart Mobs or The Wisdom of Crowds probably explain exactly why this works. Which means that they've just been elevated 5 or 6 rungs on my reading list.

More follows....