MA Digital Arts and Humanities
A Wiki(Hawaiian for ‘quick’ or ‘fast’) is a set of linked web pages, created through the incremental development of a text by a group of collaborating users(Leuf and Cunningham,2001) and the software used to manage the set of web pages(Wagner, 2004). In other words, anyone can edit, delete, or alter or add to a wiki, therefore Wiki pages are highly collaborative in nature (Tharp, 2010). At present, the majority of wiki projects focus on editing encyclopedia articles, creating knowledge databases or building knowledge-based sites used for subject specific or related fields. Wikipedia is the world’s most successful wiki project and online encyclopedia facility. It is possibly the largest collection of knowledge ever assembled and is certainly the most widely accessible (Logan, 2010). The exercise of editing a Wikipedia page is a worthwhile effort in many respects and may in fact be the best way to equip a user in order to learn more about wiki.
The founders of the Wikipedia believe kindness is a human trait, and therefore users are not seen to jeopardize or threaten the content by permitting them and enabling access to editing this content. So anyone including anonymous people can edit it and be the editor of the encyclopedia. Anyone can acting an expert in five minutes.
First I chose the page about Qufu Normal University which is my old university. This page was very simple and some details were out of time. I updated them and added new pictures on it. I also reedited the HTML to remove the textbox which said this page didn’t cite source.
It’s very simple to edit and it is similar to using with our own Microsoft word. This is convenient, however, this is quite concerning. As anyone is allowed to edit and there is no challenge to do it except in the aftermath, how can we guarantee the quality of the content? The features of the wiki are open, free, collaborative and self-directed. There are no distinguishing differences seen for example between an expert or a primary student when they edit the same wiki page. On the Chinese Wikipedia, the definition of “director” had changed several times. In the beginning, the explanation GIVEN was “the artists who adaptation the literary works onto screen（把文学作品搬上银幕的艺术家）”, but just few days, the explanation became into “directors are tycoons（导演都是大流氓）”. The former editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica, Robert McHenry, compared the user who visits Wikipedia to learn about some subject, to confirm some matter of fact, to a visitor to a public restroom. The restroom may be dirty, so that he knows to exercise great care/caution, or it may seem fairly clean, so that he may be lulled into a false sense of security.; what he certainly does not know is who has used the facilities before him(McHenry, 2004).
It’s true that citing material can improve the accuracy and most of people will correct the item and in this respect the information can be seen to be reliable. We can still not rely on Wikipedia as there is no way to ensure the content is correct at the moment we use it. Only a person with relevant background can checkup the content, with this checkup, we can’t afford the cost of it in every aspect, i.e. manpower. Technology is not mature to check it automatically, i.e. Google translation.
After the Qufu Normal University page, I chose another one about “Fenqing” which means “angry youth”. I added more details, pictures and hyperlink in this page. The hyperlink is prominent in Wikipedia pages. Any concept will not remain intact for long periods of time. It will connect to other knowledge very soon by the hyperlink.
Compared with the University page this page was more complex I checked both the edit history and found that a well edited page involved more people.
By these two pictures, we can tell that the more users whom are involved, the more the page will be filled with cited references guided by collective knowledge gathered through collaboration. The essence of Wiki is to formulate a general text by collaborative writing. Individual opinion is minimal, instead, there is a melange of public thought. Everyone contributes to it in an online capacity and become ‘intelligent’ together. This model is very good at accumulating and sharing human knowledge. Shortly after I finished my update, I found someone edited it my chosen Wiki. By using version control, I can find the difference between these two versions and know what others think about my contribution. In this way, I can learn from others’ feedback and develop an understanding.
Everyone who can connect to the Internet can be the editor and expert in five minutes on Wikipedia as it’s simple to access and alter the content of the pages, no matter if you have professional background. Though the contents are not reliable enough, we can still get a general cognition and exchange our own opinion with other users on Wikipedia.
Elbow, Peter. Writing without teachers. Oxford University Press, 1998.
Leuf, Bo, and Ward Cunningham. “The Wiki way: collaboration and sharing on the Internet.” (2001).
Logan, Darren W., et al. “Ten simple rules for editing Wikipedia.” PLoS Comput Biol 6.9 (2010).
McHenry, Robert. “The faith-based encyclopedia.” TCS Daily 15.11 (2004).
Tharp, Tara Leigh. “” Wiki, Wiki, Wiki—WHAT?” Assessing Online Collaborative Writing.” English journal (2010): 40-46.
Wagner, Christian. “Wiki: A technology for conversational knowledge management and group collaboration.” The Communications of the Association for Information Systems 13.1 (2004): 58.