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Academics Start Their Own Wikipedia For Media Studies

Many academics have expressed skepticism, right here on Wired Campus blog, about the validity of Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. But some researchers are taking an approach more along the lines of: if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

The Institute for the Future of the Book, a center supported by the University of Southern California, announced today that it will soon unveil an online scholarly press, of sorts, called MediaCommons, that will focus on the discipline of media studies. The announcement comes just days after Rice University unveiled the first all-digital university press.

MediaCommons will try a variety of new ideas to shake up scholarly publishing. One of them is essentially a mini-Wikipedia about aspects of the discipline. Or, as the announcement states, "electronic reference works, in which a community collectively produces, in a mode analogous to current wiki projects, authoritative resources for research in the field."

The blog Kairosnews welcomed the announcement. "From a theoretical standpoint, this is an exciting collection of ideas for a new scholarly community," the posting said, adding that the biggest challenge will be building a community of volunteers to do the work involved.

Is this the future of scholarly communication? Can wikis be valid forms of scholarship? Add your thoughts.—Jeffrey R. Young

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