Cooperative Learning

In the 9/12 class there was a discussion of Wikipedia, and the criticisms on whether or not Wikipedia can be relied on in the same respect as the Encyclopedia Britannica. Wikipedia is the ultimate in endless knowledge, pages on every subject you could imagine, available at the stroke of a key, and it did not exist until only a few years ago. It strikes me as similar to the Google phenomenon. In class, Charlie asked how many people use Google as their primary tool for clarifying new information. With the advent of Google, everything seemed possible. Of course, there had been search engines before and all the information found had always been there to be found, but it was the speed and depth of Google, which was what made it revolutionary. Type in any word, phrase, or name and in a fraction of a second; you would be given results both mundane and eccentric. So, it is with Wikipedia, which in its English version has now more than a million entries. Wondering when the Clean Water Act was signed? When Andrew Jackson was elected president? Type it into the search bar and watch the articles appear. There is all the information you wanted, all the references, eliminating the need to carry around a heavy book with all the same information. Of course, there are problems with Wikipedia, as there is with Google, because without a ten-person peer review on whatever is returned on the computer screen, there will always be mistakes.
So here is the problem. How can you trust Wikipedia? Well, how can you trust the Encyclopedia Britannica? The Encyclopedia Britannica is a compilation of entries written by one person and reviewed and edited, a repository of knowledge verified, as much as it can be, by fact. But to consider knowledge given down by “experts” in their respective fields, experts though they may be, is to consider that knowledge eradicates all prejudice and that true knowledge can only ever be found in facts in books. Wikipedia dramatically contradicts that notion. By allowing the world to create it, it allows for the integration of factual and practical knowledge on a large scale. Any textbook expert is free to create an entry on Wikipedia and they should, but by allowing open editing, it allows for others who have expertise to talk about the concepts and refine the knowledge. Who’s to say that a third generation Gloucester fisherman understands the migratory patterns of fish in New England or a French youth who actively speaks Verlan (a type of French slang) any less than an academic who’s compiled empirical evidence on the subject it doesn’t, and something must be lost without considering those perspectives. The rough spots in the Encyclopedia Britannica aren’t so cosmetic as those in Wikipedia, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist on all levels. Neither is really better. Only through looking at both, through looking at the academic and the practical, can knowledge flourish.


  1. Leah Macfadyen (Vancouver, Canada)

    September 13, 2006 @ 5:10 pm


    [Hi everyone – great to come across this online project]

    Earlier this year, I wrote a paper called “Wiki Revolution” – in it, I tried to explore these exact issues: the possibilities for collaborative authorship that wikis offer, the new forms of writing that are becoming possible, and the ways that wiki technologies and the like are challenging traditional perspectives on authorship and how to assess the ‘credibility’ of sources.

    It’s great to see that these questions are coming up in Cyberone, and in case it’s useful, I’d like to toss my paper into the resources pile – some of the material in the bibliography might also be valuable.

    You can find a pdf version here, if interested:

    Feedback welcome!

    Leah. Member of the ‘World at Large’.

    (Full reference for the paper is:
    Macfadyen, L. P. (2006). In a world of text, is the author King? The revolutionary potential of wiki (open content) technologies. In F. Sudweeks, H. Hrachovec and C. Ess (Eds.), Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Conference in Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication (Tartu, Estonia, 28 June-1 July 2006)(pp.285-298). Murdoch University: Perth, Australia.)

  2. fern nesson

    September 13, 2006 @ 8:50 pm


    Reading your three blogs, I feel certain that your career in journalism is a lock. You are thoughtful, intelligent and an engaging writer. (Your punctuation, however, sucks! : ) Charlie and Rebecca are lucky to have a chronicler of your ability and perceptivity. Keep it up! Let’s have lunch soon. LOVE, F.

  3. eon

    September 20, 2006 @ 7:08 am


    hey miss openmind
    your mind was full of your love life yesterday
    i fear you missed the story of what happened
    it was art

  4. jonny

    November 16, 2006 @ 7:34 pm



  5. jonny652

    December 22, 2006 @ 2:10 am



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