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Libraries and Wikis


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OLA/WLA 2008

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Libraries and Wikis

  1. 1. Authority, Legitimacy and Liability in a Wiki World Brenda Hough Library Training Specialist MaintainIT Project [email_address] Experts? We don’t need no stinkin’ experts!
  2. 2. What’s a wiki? <ul><li>Collaborative </li></ul><ul><li>Fast </li></ul>http://
  3. 3. Wikipedia <ul><li>10 million articles in over 250 languages </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopedia </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia is not a publisher of original thought </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia is not a manual, guidebook, or textbook </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia is not a crystal ball </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia is not censored </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia is not a democracy </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia is not a battleground </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia is not an anarchy </li></ul>About Wikipedia
  4. 4. “ Britannica just gets used as kindling now.” - Stephen Colbert Denis Diderot French Enlightenment Jimmy Wales Postmodern Experiment
  5. 5. Who is an expert? <ul><li>“ For too long the elite who study things got to say what is or isn’t real.” –Stephen Colbert </li></ul>
  6. 6. 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
  7. 7. 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;1828979092;pp;1 Straw man argument?
  8. 8. My informal Wikipedia usage survey Gender: Age: Occupation: 2/3 male 1/3 female 30s, 40s, 50s (most in 30s) <ul><li>Chemistry Professor </li></ul><ul><li>Corporate Attorney </li></ul><ul><li>Engineering Management </li></ul><ul><li>Social Worker </li></ul><ul><li>School Social Worker </li></ul><ul><li>GIS Manager </li></ul><ul><li>Customer Service Manager </li></ul><ul><li>Payroll Specialist </li></ul><ul><li>PhD Student – Computer Science </li></ul><ul><li>PhD Student – Interdisciplinary Social Science </li></ul><ul><li>Grad Student – French Philosophy </li></ul>
  9. 9. My informal Wikipedia usage survey 7 Questions <ul><li>What did you search for? </li></ul><ul><li>Did you go directly to Wikipedia or…? </li></ul><ul><li>Why were you searching for this? </li></ul><ul><li>Were you satisfied? </li></ul><ul><li>If Wikipedia did not exist, how…? </li></ul><ul><li>How will you use the information? </li></ul><ul><li>Does it matter that it is user-created? </li></ul>
  10. 10. 1. What did you search for? <ul><li>Sugar subsidies </li></ul><ul><li>RNA interference </li></ul><ul><li>Sarajevo, Bosnia </li></ul><ul><li>Ani DiFranco </li></ul><ul><li>Secular humanism </li></ul><ul><li>The Felony Murder Rule </li></ul><ul><li>Helium </li></ul><ul><li>Ajax </li></ul><ul><li>How to invert a 2x2 matrix </li></ul>
  11. 11. 2. Did you go directly to Wikipedia or did you get there from a search engine, or?? <ul><li>According to Pew report, 70% come from search engine </li></ul><ul><li>My results: ½ from Google, ¼ directly accessed, and ¼ followed link from email or article </li></ul><ul><li>Some did a Google search with Wikipedia as one of the search terms </li></ul>
  12. 12. 3. Why were you searching for this? <ul><li>Work related </li></ul><ul><li>Personal interest </li></ul><ul><li>Homework assignment </li></ul><ul><li>Argument </li></ul>Motivation
  13. 13. 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.”
  14. 14. 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.”
  15. 15. “ hobby shooters email list discussion of the legal issues of an armed person shooting someone during a burglary” Felony Murder Rule
  16. 16. 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.”
  17. 17. 4. Satisfaction <ul><li>Mostly satisfied </li></ul><ul><li>Very satisfied </li></ul><ul><li>Extremely satisfied </li></ul><ul><li>Somewhat satisfied </li></ul><ul><li>Only one search rated as dissatisfied </li></ul>:-) ;-) 8-)
  18. 18. 5. If not Wikipedia, then…?
  19. 19. Mon Calamari Star Ship <ul><li>Star Wars Databank </li></ul><ul><li>Wookieepedia </li></ul>
  20. 20. 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.”
  21. 21. 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).”
  22. 22. 6. Application <ul><li>Argument </li></ul><ul><li>To supplement my understanding </li></ul><ul><li>Beginning background knowledge for myself </li></ul><ul><li>Needed to refresh my memory </li></ul>
  23. 23. 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.”
  24. 24. 7. Does knowing it’s user-created concern you? <ul><li>Wikipedia is a user-created encyclopedia. </li></ul><ul><li>Visitors do not need specialized qualifications to contribute. </li></ul><ul><li>Does that impact your usage of or feelings about the information you found there? If so, how? </li></ul>
  25. 25. Does knowing it’s user-created concern you? “ Yes.  The &quot;up&quot; 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 &quot;down&quot; side is that the facts may not always be accurate.  
  26. 26. “ 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?
  27. 27. “ 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?
  28. 28. Citizendium We aim at credibility, not just quantity.
  29. 29. Veropedia http://
  30. 30. Conservapedia The Trustworthy Encyclopedia http://
  31. 31. Helium A capitalist version of Wikipedia http://
  32. 32. OpenWetWare Biology and Biological Engineering http:// /
  33. 33. Wookieepedia The Star Wars Wiki http://
  34. 34. Libraries creating wikis <ul><li>Collaboration between Libraries (45.7 percent);  </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration between Library staff (31.4 percent);  </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration between Library Staff and Patrons (14.3 percent);  </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration between Patrons (8.6 percent). </li></ul>Bejune, Matthew M. (2007). Wikis in Libraries. Information Technology and Libraries , 26(3), 27-39. Library Wikis http:// /
  35. 35. Collaboration between Libraries
  36. 36. Collaboration between Library Staff https:// /
  37. 37. Collaboration between Library Staff and Patrons http://
  38. 38. Collaboration between Patrons http:// /
  39. 39. Libraries adding links to Wikipedia <ul><li>University of Washington project </li></ul><ul><li>Using Wikipedia to extend digital collections </li></ul>External links
  40. 40. Liability <ul><li>Don’t: </li></ul><ul><li>Legal Advice </li></ul><ul><li>Investment Advice </li></ul><ul><li>Do: </li></ul><ul><li>Disseminate collected information </li></ul><ul><li>Include a disclaimer about the possibility of changes or errors </li></ul>
  41. 41. Thank you! Questions? Comments? Brenda Hough [email_address]