Monday, September 12, 2011

How Social Media has changed the way I think & learn (Part 4)


My first contact with wikis was, as for many people I suspect, through Wikipedia. As a child I remember browsing through encyclopedias, soaking up information as I was want to do, so here was an interesting concept, in that it was all online, and that you could actually edit it for yourself. Now I remember all the protests at the time, that because anyone could write and edit articles it would all be rubbish and full of inacuracies, but then I guess that depends on who is writing it, and whether you have the good judgement to question what's there anyway. I liked the idea enough that I would occasionally refer to it and make my own mind up, and also started to use it as a kind of news feed through the current events section and the featured articles for something different to read. Later I started putting in small additions and even new sections when I felt moved to do so, and I actually regard it as being highly educational because I am able to engage more powerfully with the material this way.

I read Clive Shepherd's recent blog post where he questions whether a book is method or medium, and I agree that moving books to electronic format is the same method for a different medium, but the wiki does go a step beyond, because it's a uniquely collaborative venture. Instead of regarding knowledge as fixed and exclusively in the hands of 'better people', it is now in our hands. Is that a good thing? Depends on the judgement we use, or don't use! If our judgement is bad, so our wiki will be bad, and the results should alert us to this fact. So if you like what Wikipedia has done, take ownership, and get on board with the discussions if you disagree with something. Because we can all become 'better people' by increasing our knowledge.

Click here for Part 3