“ For too long the elite who study things got to say what is or isn’t real.” –Stephen Colbert
Who is an expert? “ It’s the first place I go when I’m looking for knowledge or when I want to create some.” – Stephen Colbert
When do you want an expert? “ If you are faced with the prospect of having brain surgery who would you rather it be performed by - a surgeon trained at medical school or someone who has read Wikipedia?” - Article in 4/14/08 Computerworld http://www.computerworld.com.au/index.php/id;1828979092;pp;1 Straw man argument?
My informal Wikipedia usage survey Gender: Age: Occupation: 2/3 male 1/3 female 30s, 40s, 50s (most in 30s)
RNA Interference “ It was for work. I was reading about RNA interference for a class I was teaching. The academic literature was a bit hard to understand, so I went to Wikipedia to look for a more ‘layman’s terms’ description of how it worked. After getting the basic concepts down from Wikipedia, I was able to go back to the academic literature and understand the details better.”
Sarajevo, Bosnia “ I met a colleague who emigrated here from Bosnia and I wanted to be able to converse with him in an intelligent way about his country. I didn’t want to seem like a stupid American by not valuing where he came from.”
“ hobby shooters email list discussion of the legal issues of an armed person shooting someone during a burglary” Felony Murder Rule
A priori “ I heard it used in a television show dialogue, and even though I was familiar with the term, it was used in a serious, then again in a ribbing manner. The dialogue exchange was quick and I didn't think I caught the gist of what they were trying to convey.”
RNA Interference “ I would have tried to find another resource, probably a textbook. This would have been much harder, and probably would have involved (gasp) a trip to the library.”
Instrumental variables “ If Wikipedia did not exist, I would have clicked another link from Google that I thought would be useful. Since I had a general idea about what I was looking for, a pdf of some econometrics course notes would have been sufficient. If the internet wasn't available, I could have looked it up in one of books or notes, but that would have taken too long (too long meaning more than a minute).”
RNA Interference “ I used the information to supplement my understanding of the topic. I also shared it with my students. They liked the Wikipedia version of the material better than the literature articles.”
7. Does knowing it’s user-created concern you?
Wikipedia is a user-created encyclopedia.
Visitors do not need specialized qualifications to contribute.
Does that impact your usage of or feelings about the information you found there? If so, how?
Does knowing it’s user-created concern you? “ Yes. The "up" side is that I usually find the Wikipedia entries on science topics to be more accessible than the scientific literature. I wonder if this is because graduate students and/or people who are not deeply entrenched in the field are more likely to write the entries (so they have more of a layman's perspective on how to describe it). Of course the "down" side is that the facts may not always be accurate.
“ As a GIS (Geographic Information System) professional I tend to use the Internet to look for a specific technical topic or recent article. When I need to know about something for GIS, I usually search an industry specific website. If I need to explain a basic GIS topic to somebody outside my profession I will use Wikipedia. Otherwise I would have to dig into my old text books.” Does knowing it’s user-created concern you?
“ Generally, I am pro-democratization of information, I am, however sort of concerned about students who use it as a primary source. All in all, I think that the truth will be sussed out by public openness and that is good all around.” Does knowing it’s user-created concern you?
Citizendium We aim at credibility, not just quantity. citizendium.org