Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Is Wikipedia a Bad Thing?

Some more on Clay Shirky, this time about Wikipedia (the site loathed by thousands of academics - see image below taken from an essay check sheet).

Wikipedia has now transcended the traditional functions of an encyclopedia. Within minutes of the bombs going off in the London transit system, someone created a Wikipedia page called "7 July 2005 London bombings." The article's first incarnation was five sentences long and attributed the explosions to a power surge in the Underground, one of the early theories floated before the bus bombings was linked to the Underground explosions. The Wikipedia page received more than a thousand edits in its first four hours of existence, as additional news came in; users added numerous pointers to traditional news sources (more symbiosis) and a list of contact numbers for people either trying to track loved ones or simply figuring out how to get home. What was conceived as an open encyclopedia in 2001 has become a general-purpose tool for gathering and distributing information quickly, a use that further cemented Wikipedia in people's minds as a useful reference work. (Shirky 2008: 116-7)


Shirky, C. (2008). Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations. New York: The Penguin Press.

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