“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)