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Let me state up front that I am a fan of wikis and supporter of Jimmy Wales wikipedia project. As I’m snowed under for much of this week it will be the weekend before I get the chance to catchup on all sides of the debate but catchup I will. However for now I would like to share a couple of thoughts. It always helps to hear both sides of the story directly from the participants.Watching this CNN interview enables that.

The graphic above is from a screenshot of the online survey CNN ran to accompany the story. Note the disclaimer under the results. When people are given the opportunity to anonymously participate by expressing their opinion, it is human nature to do precisely that, subjectively state ones personal opinion, nothing more nothing less. As more people become aware of wikipedia and participate in the project there will be a continuous period of adaptation and learning for all sides of those interactions. Ben Hammersley’s insightful presentation on how new social norms have emerged from the introduction of new forms of communication down through the ages comes to mind.

It really is time to stop talking about the virtual world and the real world. Online is not a thing but a place just as real as offline. Both are places where people meet to interact. Many of our past, current and future misunderstandings will be attributable to the fact that the internet was created by a very small minority of people over 40 and is being populated by a very large majority of people under 40. Alot of conversations will need to be repeated time and again to remove the FUD that surrounds the digital age. Neville Hobson’s recent post was a good reality check as to how far we have yet to travel before the digital age becomes a reality in every corner of our world. Doing so will mean a better world for everyone.

UPDATE : NYT tells the story about the poster

UPDATE 2 : Vote of confidence for Wikipedia

UPDATE 3 : Danah Boyd joins the conversation

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2 Comments

  1. Interesting. As ever, the wording of the question will skew the result. There’s something about the “anonymously authored” label that makes the whole thing sound very dodgy. Wikipedia, like lots of new things, will sound weird until it is actually experienced.

  2. Hi Johnnie. Agreed. There is much to learn from the field of Cognitive Linguistics – checkout the ICLA website http://www.cognitivelinguistics.org. The Internets role in the re-emergence of life sciences is going to be one of the great success stories of this decade.


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