January 17, 2013, 9:01 pm
There was a time when professors, scholars, and even one of Wikipedia’s founders, Jimmy Wales, said the user-edited online encyclopedia should not be used in academe. But in recent years, academics seem to be looking more favorably on the popular reference tool.
The newest indication: The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, is now the first presidential library in the United States to have a “Wikipedian in residence” on its staff.
Michael Barera, a master’s student in Michigan’s School of Information, has been selected for the new internship position and charged with increasing and enhancing the library’s presence on Wikipedia.
“Wikipedia is a completely new outreach venue for us,” Bettina Cousineau, exhibit specialist at the Ford Library and Museum, said in a news release. “Not everyone can visit our museum and library in person,…
November 17, 2011, 12:34 pm
The Georgia Institute of Technology has stripped, at least for now, more than 10 years of class work from its collaborative-learning Web sites, known as Swikis.
Following a student’s complaint to the university that his name was listed on the Web site of a public course, Georgia Tech officials decided on Monday to remove all Swikis other than ones from the current semester, said Mark Guzdial, a professor in the School of Interactive Computing, who is a co-creator of the Swikis.
He reported the development on his Computing Education blog this week. (The tech journalist Audrey Watters picked it up on her blog.)
In his post, Mr. Guzdial recounts how he and two Ph.D. students created the Swiki, or CoWeb, in 2000, so that students would have a place to “construct public entities on the Web.” The Swikis served intentionally undefined purposes, such as providing a forum for…
October 26, 2011, 2:02 pm
Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, famously allows anyone to write or revise its entries, and the history of each item is open for anyone to review. Except for material that leaders of the effort consider too “dangerous” to leave online.
The fine print of its stated practices notes that in some cases, material is completely spiked from the record. Or, as the policy reads: “a revision with libelous content, criminal threats or copyright infringements may be removed afterwards.”
These total redactions are what a University of Pennsylvania research team has been mining for the past year in the hopes of shedding some light on what Wikipedia deletes forever and why. In 2010 redactions accounted for more than 56,000 of the 47.1 million revisions, according to the research team.
The researchers, Andrew G. West and Insup Lee, wondered what content on the enormously popular Web site…
February 18, 2011, 4:41 pm
In October 2010, Robert Darnton, the historian and university librarian at Harvard, talked to Wired Campus about the possibility of building what was then being described as a National Digital Library. Since then, Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, with money from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, has stepped into the role of coordinating plans for what’s now being designated a Digital Public Library of America.
The planning has a public component as well: The Berkman Center has set up a wiki to which anyone can contribute. “We very much hope that this wiki will be the embodiment of a consensus-based and peer-produced approach,” the center notes on the welcome page.
The wiki lays out major topics related to the proposed DPLA project: content and scope (which includes a handy roundup of digitizing projects in the United States and abroad), governance and business…
May 14, 2010, 1:18 pm
An updated version of an electronic-literature compendium is out, with the goal of creating a more interactive community.
Since 1998 the Electronic Literature Directory has compiled lists of works that are digitally born: for example, electronic poetry, or a text or even a game with a multimedia element. Electronic literature, or hypertext fiction, came to national attention in the 1990s; some called it revolutionary, others merely a passing trend.
The directory, supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, now uses a wiki platform that allows the archive to include tags, descriptions, and discussions. Organizers hope to create a sort of “living archive,” which, like Wikipedia, is a communal effort. They also hope that the improvements will draw more readers and writers.
The directory has also added an editorial working group and an editorial board that curates…
March 26, 2010, 3:21 pm
If every episode of every television show deserves to be on Wikipedia, so does every piece of public art. Or at least Jennifer Geigel Mikulay thinks so, which is why she helped start a project to promote the documentation of public art around the world on Wikipedia.
Ms. Mikulay, an assistant professor and public scholar of visual culture at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, started the project, Wikipedia Saves Public Art, with Richard McCoy, an assistant conservator of objects and variable art at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Ms. Mikulay and Mr. McCoy taught a course together last fall at Indiana-Purdue, in which they asked students to write Wikipedia articles about pieces of public art on the campus. They used a GPS to obtain coordinates for each piece, and they wrote an entry about each one, giving its art-history context.
The 40 articles produced by the class are…
March 24, 2010, 2:00 pm
Wikipedia is advocating for users to add videos to its online encyclopedia, which could give academics a new forum in which to share their multimedia work.
Three nonprofit groups — Miro, Mozilla Drumbeat, and the Open Video Alliance — began a campaign this month with support from the Wikimedia Foundation encouraging users to upload videos onto the Web site. Wikipedia asks that videos be short, under 100MB, and comply with the encyclopedia’s rules.
Ben Moskowitz, general director of the Open Video Alliance, said he had talked with a number of universities interested in adding their content to the Web site or participating in data mobbing — using small groups to reach a measured goal such as improving a specific area of Wikipedia. He declined to give names, saying talks are still preliminary.
Mr. Moskowitz said institutions could also see the videos as a beneficial way to teach students…
February 3, 2010, 11:00 am
Students have long turned to Wikipedia for answers — often to the frustration of professors, who complain that the user-written encylopedia is not always accurate. But students at McGill University have taken their love of the free resource guide to a new level by starting a Wikipedia club on the campus.
The university’s student government granted interim status to Students Supporting Wikipedia last month, making it a bona fide student organization. It might be the first officially sanctioned Wikipedia club on a college campus.
“I wasn’t surprised when the group applied, because Wikipedia is so often used by students now that it wouldn’t be long before students somewhere rallied round to show support,” said Sarah Olle, the Students’ Society vice president responsible for clubs.
The main purpose of Students Supporting Wikipedia is to raise money and contribute information to the online…
April 1, 2009, 12:28 pm
By now, if you’re even moderately interested in Wikipedia, you’ve probably had the chance to read any number of lengthy articles on the Web site’s meteoric rise. So why bother with a whole book on the topic? In the case of Andrew Lih’s new tome, The Wikipedia Revolution, the answer is simple: The author is a longtime site administrator, and he has enough pull in the community to get Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia’s founder, to write a foreword. So, for all intents and purposes, this is Wikipedia: The Authorized Biography.
Let’s get this out of the way now: The Wikipedia Revolution (subtitled How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World’s Greatest Encyclopedia) paints a reasonably rosy view of the open-source encyclopedia. In Mr. Lih’s telling, Wikipedia’s neutral-point-of-view policy “has worked remarkably well,” its “clinical, just-the-facts style” is “endearing,” and the site itself is “a…
March 19, 2009, 1:25 pm
Technology is changing the way students learn. Is it changing the way colleges teach?
Not enough, says George Siemens, associate director of research and development at the University of Manitoba’s Learning Technologies Centre.
While colleges and universities have been “fairly aggressive” in adapting their curricula to the changing world, Mr. Siemens told The Chronicle, “What we haven’t done very well in the last few decades is altering our pedagogy.”
To help get colleges thinking about how they might adapt their teaching styles to the new ways students absorb and process information, Mr. Siemens and Peter Tittenberger, director of the center, have created a Web-based guide, called the Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning.
Taking their own advice, they have outfitted the handbook with a wiki function that will allow readers to contribute their own additions.