Online Interactivity

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“The Social Life of Documents” does an amazing job at proving how the internet would eventually evolve into a community driven space. This is extraordinary discovery/hypothesis considering that the article is from 1996. The sharing of documents is something the authors cite as evidence that the world-wide web would transition into this type of sharing experience. Basic forms of this community  are as simple as the creation of a nation wide newspaper. Having the internet and the ability to constantly edit and reform facts and documents allows for a longer “”social life”, and this becomes extremely relevant when observing today’s information exchange.

With “Wikinomics and its discontents” we see idea of “peer – production” come to fruition. The authors put forth the idea that information in the future will all be amassed as a result of mass collaboration and creatively sharing information via the internet. This is important because it refelects the possibilities that sites such as “Wikipedia” will run the feed of information in the future. This is becoming an issue currently because some people question the validity of Wikipedia. The problem with dubbing everyone who contributes as “creators” and as adding valid information is that the motivation for adding information is unknown (as well as sources). This relates to the readings included in the last module which discussed the (sometimes random or motivated)identities that people take on in different communities online. Any ‘user’ can become who they chose when adding information to these databases. Even though the information has been proven to be reliable on wikipedia, there is still a negative stigma attached to these sites because of the freedom of computer users around the world to contribute. The authors even mention the attachment of SNS (Social Networking Sites) to the new model of sharing public/private life. They conclude that we must step bravely but carefully into this new world of information sharing, and this is a valid statement leading into the third article “Whats on Wikipedia, and What’s Not…?”.

Prior to these readings I knew that the information on Wikipedia was in some cases reliable, and in some cases not. But the inclusion of so many people and the type of co-creation mentality gives me more of a trust in these types of sites. The recurring problem with the information is that it is a socially created document, and includes bias of the people who create it; no matter what. But is this not a fact of all information? Are the theories included in textbooks not someone’s thought process and bias? We tend to de-value information on Wikipedia because “people create it” it is “free” or because it is edit-enabled. But this is problematic because where does that place other information that we believe is “reliable”?  The idea of the constant scrutiny and observation of Wikipedia allows for accuracy to prevail. This is interesting because in relation to the picture I posted, there are not 100,000 users constantly observing these textbooks and checking for up-to-date accuracy. Sure, some of the articles which may need more information do not have it, but that does not discredit this massively accessible universe of information.

The benefits of this type of information exchange are countless. Drawbacks include bias (in terms of validity, as well as where information is focused) but that does not erase the fact that thousands of users constantly monitor these pages. The type of knowledge accessed definitely also affects validity (some articles on older topics may be less accurate than those on today’s issues for example).

As a final word: Do not be afraid to use WIkipedia as a source of information, but be careful with what you accept as fact.

(I would actually apply this statement to most information available in today’s society)

-Adrian

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4 thoughts on “Online Interactivity

  1. Clever photo! It is funny and true. Some would say that our educational resources in our schools are too old, or un-relevant in today’s society. The articles we read this week show that Wikipedia can be used as a way to get information out on Internet in a worldwide spread. After reading your post, I can conclude that my opinion of Wikipedia has not changed and I to do not believe Wikipedia am a reliable source for information. However I do agree with your final words “do not be afraid to use Wikipedia as a course of information, but be careful with what you accept as fact”. I used this example in another comment but I believe this example is still relevant for this post. I would use Wikipedia for smaller facts for example population of a city or a town. However again for a research project or any university assignment. You gave great examples of the pro’s and cons for the uses of Wikipedia.

  2. You highlight, very well, the fact that bias exists no matter who has researched and written an article or what format it has been published. We have been conditioned to accept information coming from a perceived expert in a textbook format as the true fact. While we are taught to question information ascertained from online sources. Is it fear of the unknown driving this mentality?
    In 1996 I would never have thought about documents as a carrier of information whether it be papyrus form or electronic form in the context of community. I concur with you that this article was a leader in future information sharing practices.
    I like the argument on the ‘buyer beware’ thought when you identified the practices of people who take on different or multiple identifies. You stated “Any ‘user’ can become who they chose when adding information to these databases.” The possibilities abound to subterfuge an article if one so chooses to do so. It just goes to show that one must apply critical thought to information being sought.

    Nicely written post!

  3. I have to say your post is great. I couldn’t agree more with “Are the theories included in textbooks not someone’s thought process and bias?” We can trust a 20 years old textbook cost us 100 bucks, we can’t relied on a free website that has thousands people observing. Before I read these readings I am not 100% trust Wikipedia, but I do consider it is useful when we need basic information. These articles help me have more confidence to Wikipedia instead of Britannica. The way you explain both sides of Wikipedia is clear and interesting. I like what you said “Do not be afraid to use Wikipedia as a source of information, but be careful with what you accept as fact.” Sometimes, I think the problem on our own not on the website, cause we create the website.

  4. The picture you picked was by far the best part of this post. It made me want to read more and see what you had to say because it is so true. I remember in highschool using super old books but being told not to use wikipieia whchi to mee seemed odd becasue wikipedia updated than our text books. Like i have said on many of the other blogs that I agree that in the begining of not relying on wikipedia and that the articles opended my eyes on how it works. I liked how you included benifits and down falls of wikipedia it added a different spin on a topic that we are all doing.

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