Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Wikipedia and the Hive Mentality

My blog entry on April 26, 2006, Wikipedia vs. Encyclopedia Britannica discussed the contentious debate between Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia. Well, things are heating up again.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports in the June 12, 2006 issue that Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales wants to get the message out that "college students shouldn't use it for class projects or serious research."

I found this article interesting: Digital Maosim: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism by Jaron Lanier. He asks us to consider the appeal of online collectivism...wikis and meta sites ...and ask is the collective all-wise or is it just a hive mentality? Lanier also grieves for a real author, a connection between writer and content often absent in wikis and Meta. Commenting on web design and authorship, Lanier says " in the last year or two the trend has been to remove the scent of people." I love that image ...scent of people. It's what authors do for readers, add the scent of people. ..the perfume of the page if you will.

Another article, The Real Bias in Wikipedia: a response to David Shariatmadari by Robert McHenry refuels the Encyclopedia Britannica debate. Mr. McHenry accuses the Wikipedia of bias and imbalance. He also employs the hive analogy to describe the collectivism of Wikipedia but instead of bees he sees young children playing soccer "a game involving the youngest children will consist of a swarm of twenty or so players buzzing ineffectively about the ball."

If all of this discussion is bringing you down, check out a little bit of humor. Here's a link to the world's funniest joke.

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