19.513 Wikipedia storied, vindicated, natured, reviewed

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2005 08:59:43 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 19, No. 513.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

   [1] From: Ken Friedman <ken.friedman_at_bi.no> (36)
         Subject: The Wikipedia Story

   [2] From: "Bleck, Brad" <BradB_at_spokanefalls.edu> (26)
         Subject: Wikipedia vindicated?

   [3] From: Vika Zafrin <amarena_at_gmail.com> (18)
         Subject: Wikipedia in Nature

   [4] From: Michael Fraser <mike.fraser_at_computing- (9)
         Subject: wikipedia reviewed

   [5] From: "Paul Spence" <paul.spence_at_kcl.ac.uk> (3)
         Subject: wikipedia

         Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2005 08:27:17 +0000
         From: Ken Friedman <ken.friedman_at_bi.no>
         Subject: The Wikipedia Story


I tend to agree with Willard on Wikipedia. While I was horrified by
the Seigenthaler story, I have come to suspect that these problems do
not occur as often as I feared. Instead, there must perhaps be a way
to improve the error-catching system.

The debate on this list and others pointed to critical thinking and
evaluation. I agree. In my classes, I have always emphasized these
issues. The difficulty I see now is that a new system is taking hold,
at least in our school, where students tend to be overloaded with
shorter courses while each course contains as much work as before.
This, in turn, makes it difficult to emphasize critical thinking and
evaluation skills. Instead, students take short-cuts -- thus the use
of a single source.

The one issue where I have been puzzled is the idea that one may not
use reference works at all in building a reasoned argument. I use
reference works of all kinds, and I use the web (critically, to be
sure) in my research. I have no problem using or citing a valued source.

I don't know of the book Willard wonders about, though. Perhaps there
is a gap in the literature ....

For now, I am resolved to push a bit harder on the issues of critical
thinking and careful writing. Despite the pressure that students feel
that leads them to economize their time -- sometimes in inappropriate
ways -- I don't really like the kind of heuristic that prohibits
using a specific source. Thus I must reverse my view and find a way
to struggle more effectively with the "how" of how to use sources and
how to write.

Warm wishes,


Ken Friedman
Professor of Leadership and Strategic Design
Institute for Communication, Culture, and Language
Norwegian School of Management
Design Research Center
Denmark's Design School
email: ken.friedman_at_bi.no
         Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2005 08:27:56 +0000
         From: "Bleck, Brad" <BradB_at_spokanefalls.edu>
         Subject: Wikipedia vindicated?
This from a wire service blurb in my local paper today:
Wikipedia, the encyclopedia that relies on volunteers to pen nearly 4
million articles, is about as accurate in covering scientific topics
as Encyclopedia  Britannica, the journal Nature wrote in an online
article published Wednesday.
the finding, based on a side-by-side comparison of articles covering
a broad swatch of the scientific spectrum, comes as Wikipedia faces
criticism over the accuracy of some of its entries.
Two weeks ago prominent journalist John Seigenthaler Sr. revealed
that a Wikipedia entry that ran for four months had incorrectly named
him as a longtime suspect in the assassination of President John F.
Kennedy and his brother Robert.
Such errors appear to be the exception rather than the rule, Nature
said in Wednesday's article, which the scientific journal said was
the first to compare Wikipedia to Britannica. Based on 42 articles
reviewed by experts, the average scientific entry in Wikipedia
contained four errors or omissions, while Britannica had three.
Of eight "serious errors" the reviewers found--including
misinterpretations of important concepts, four came from each source
the journal reported.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement of either encyclopedia, but a clear
indication that both might be reasonable starting points for some
work, at least at the undergrad level.
Spokane Falls CC
         Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2005 08:29:18 +0000
         From: Vika Zafrin <amarena_at_gmail.com>
         Subject: Wikipedia in Nature
Thought I'd pass this on, since Wikipedia has been one of our star
subjects of late.  From if:book, the blog of the Institute for the
Future of the Book, 14dec2005:
"A new and fairly authoritative voice has entered the Wikipedia
debate: last week, staff members of the science magazine Nature read
through a series of science articles in both Wikipedia and the
Encyclopedia Britannica, and decided that Britannica -- the "gold
standard" of reference, as they put it -- might not be that much more
Vika Zafrin
Director, Virtual Humanities Lab
Brown University Box 1942
Providence, RI 02912 USA
         Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2005 08:29:49 +0000
         From: Michael Fraser <mike.fraser_at_computing-services.oxford.ac.uk>
         Subject: wikipedia reviewed
And I will probably be adding to the list of humanist subscribers who
noticed this one...
"Wikipedia survives research test
The free online resource Wikipedia is about as accurate on science as
the Encyclopedia Britannica, a study shows. The British journal
Nature examined a range of scientific entries on both works of
reference and found few differences in accuracy. [more]"
         Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2005 08:30:08 +0000
         From: "Paul Spence" <paul.spence_at_kcl.ac.uk>
         Subject: wikipedia
Interesting in light of recent discussion on the Humanist ...
Received on Fri Dec 16 2005 - 04:29:11 EST

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