Friday, March 11, 2011

wiki who?

For a long time Wikipedia has been treated by academics with some scorn, lecturers crossing out students' Wikipedia references in essays with enthusiastic relish. It seems as if it is becoming increasingly difficult however for even these tireless teachers to deny the ubiquitous nature of Wikipedia in our lives. Nonetheless, academics, scientists and other 'experts' still contribute very little to this project ... and Wikimedia wants to find out why, in this anonymous survey (with more background here).

In my field, Science and Technology Studies, there has been much dismantling of the boundaries of expertise, and questioning of the kinds of categories that Wikimedia is using to distinguish between contributors. Even so, their survey raises the interesting subject of who contributes to Wikipedia, from where, why, and so forth. This is a topic which the
Digital Methods Initiative in Amsterdam is studying with vigor (for example see this project about Wikipedia as a place of controversy), and the topic of an upcoming paper I am looking forward to by René König at the Participatory Knowledge Production 2.0 workshop at Maastricht University.

So I wonder, who contributes to the Wikipedia entry about Pneumatic Tube systems? What are their motivations, their connections, their interests? What sources are they drawing from? Why are some images included and not others? Why is the popular culture section much longer than the historical section? Have you contributed to this page? If so why, and if not, why not?

Stereoscopic image by Prof.Dr. Nemo Klein.Gelegenheitsbenutzer at de.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons.

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