WISDOM OF CROWDS?

Normally I take great enjoyment of using Wikipedia for pretty much any topic under the sun. But given the site’s faith in crowds – a system of data management that doesn’t always lend itself to solid, reliable facts – I’m starting to wonder if two alternatives that have emerged are far superior additions to the world of encyclopedias.

Wired has a new article out about the emerging world of competitors to Wikipedia: Citizendium, which has been around for a year or so and only has roughly 10,000 articles, and the new Veropedia, which is being set up as a more trustworthy version of Wikipedia with vetting of articles against a broader number of sources.

It’s always good to have competition of any kind when it comes to information (which might be a good lesson for the MSM) sources. Personally, I think Wikipedia is a fairly solid reference guide, although I’d never use it for any academic paper if I were in school (I can’t imagine anyone using Wikipedia as a primary source for a major research paper, although I’ve heard of people using it for that very purpose).

One of the big challenges coming in the next few decades for academia will be how the culture of collaboration among students, workers and even academics of a newer generation will be incorporated into the Monastic tradition of the Academy. Many academics I’ve known over the years loathe collaborative work when it comes to researching papers; there’s a centuries-old tradition within academia of solitary working habits. How will universities adapt to this new reality is anyone’s guess.

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1 thought on “WISDOM OF CROWDS?

  1. You know what I say to the academics who try to resist all these modern innovations, be it technology or a culture of collaboration… why are you pushing back? Why wouldn’t you use tools that would help everyone improve?

    So yes, why not have people work in groups of 3-4 on a major research paper? It might bring out some people’s gifts a bit better.

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