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 31, 2004
Wikipedia debate rumbles on  
Though it's fairly one-sided, actually.

Corante has a good summary, and discusses issues of authority (e.g. of named bloggers vs. anonymous Wiki editors, and concludes that both have authority, though of different kinds).
Caveat Lector has a VERY interesting post, pointing out that the evaluation methods we are taught in library school are heuristics, not holy writ, and that therefore we shouldn't be so certain to judge what is authoritative and what isn't. (The issues I raised in my previous post are similar).
The original article has shown up in my Bloglines feed:
Wikipedia is not what many casual Web surfers think it is. It's not the online version of an established, well-researched traditional encyclopedia.
Well, yes. As you would have known if you'd paid any attention to the site, at all, in the first place.
Christina Pikas adds some new points:
....the school librarian should 1) not have used Wikipedia as an example of a bad resource and 2) a more nuanced, sophisticated method needs to be taught when dealing with new resources. Evaluating print materials is pretty much under control. How to evaluate wikis, blogs, and new types of electronic resources is not well taught.
I agree, although I feel that the training I received in evaluating internet resources was pretty good.

Rafe Colburn points out that this "backlash" is a sign that Wikipedia must be catching on. I think he's probably right.

And here's something very interesting. Alex Halavais conducted an experiment where he falsified 13 Wikipedia entries. All changes were identified and corrected within a few hours. (Christina has some criticism of this methodology for its use of deceit).

Whatever we as librarians think of Wikipedia, I think that we have to be aware of it. It's being used as an information resource by our users or potential users, and we'd better have the knowledge and understanding to tell them about its good and bad points, or we'll only be assisting in hastening our own redundancy.


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