- Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker, 29 September 2014.
- Really interesting article. Toobin addresses a decision by the European Court of Justice that prohibits Google from linking to certain stories and highlights the distressing Catsouras case as a worthy discussion point: “There is an inevitable conflict between two distinct social values”–privacy and free speech… The question is how do societies value those competing rights. Technology didn’t create the tension but just revealed it in a dramatic way.”
Wikipedia warns against French attempt to extend EU privacy law globally
- Reuters.com, 10 June 2016.
- Short article warning about technology being censored by judicial restrictions in certain countries.
Jeffrey Toobin Suspended From New Yorker
- Reuters.com, 19 October 2020.
- Interesting follow-up on the author of the 1st article and how he may now wish for this alleged incident to be removed from web search results.
Google And The Right To Be Forgotten
- Julian Vigo, Forbes.com, 3 October 2019.
- Short article following the story about Google delisting web results.
- “Breyer went on to say that supporting Google’s right to break privacy laws outside the EU would “fracture the internet and raise more borders online.” Obviously, where information is available elsewhere, one need not travel to access it. When I am blocked because of GDPR rules in reading an online American publication, I simply change my VPN location to the US and I have immediate access. Hence, the notion of geography determining access and privacy right, given current technology of VPN for starters, makes a mockery out of legal data protections. “
Is Wikipedia a good source? 2 college librarians explain when to use the online encyclopedia – and when to avoid it
- The Conversation.com, 20 March 2023.
- Really good and concise opening introduction to Wikipedia and some perceived pros and cons.
Wikipedia is 20, and its reputation has never been higher
- The Economist, 9 January 2021.
- Two years old article (Wikipedia is 22.5 years old now) but excellent summary of where we are with Wikipedia 20 years on and you can also listen to this story in an engaging audio in 14 minutes.
- A former president of the American Library Association in 2007: “A professor who encourages the use of Wikipedia is the intellectual equivalent of a dietician who recommends a steady diet of Big Macs with everything,” he sneered.
“Toby Negrin, chief product officer at the Wikimedia Foundation, the San Francisco-based charity that provides the site’s infrastructure, describes the online encyclopedia as a “guardian of truth”. That sounds grandiose. But other tech behemoths now use it as a neutral arbiter.”
How Wikipedia gets to define what’s true online
- Ethan Zuckerman, Prospect magazine, 3 March 2022
- “Who gets to define what’s true online?… In practical terms, truth is what Google’s knowledge graph—the massive database of facts that allows the powerful search engine to answer most questions—can deliver to its users. Google’s knowledge graph is descended primarily from Wikipedia and Wikidata, an open-source collection of facts derived from Wikipedia, the remarkable participatory encyclopedia that, in the past 20 years, has become a core part of our collective knowledge infrastructure.”
“Somehow, verifiability and neutral point of view work together to gradually produce articles that reflect consensus reality. Nonsense, argues Ford. The formation of truth on Wikipedia is as political as it is anywhere else in the world. Her book centres on the creation of a single Wikipedia article about the Tahrir Square protests that ultimately ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in 2011. By following the editing of this single article, Ford documents the tension between activists who want to recognise and celebrate history in the making and those who argue that “Wikipedia is not a crystal ball” and should be slow and cautious in writing history.”
- “Wikipedia is a roadmap for co-operation and collaboration at scale. As we mourn the apparent impossibility of keeping YouTube free of flat Earthers or Facebook free from vaccine disinformation, the fact that Wikipedia remains an anchor for consensus reality seems worthy of close study. “
Students are told not to use Wikipedia but it’s a trustworthy source
- Rachel Cunneen and Mathieu O’Neil of University of Canberra, The Conversation.com, 4 November 2021.
- “For popular articles, Wikipedia’s online community of volunteers, administrators and bots ensure edits are based on reliable citations. Popular articles are reviewed thousands of times. Some media experts, such as Amy Bruckman, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s computing centre, argue that because of this painstaking process, a highly-edited article on Wikipedia might be the most reliable source of information ever created.”
- “Wikipedia can be a tool for better media literacy. Research suggests Australian children are not getting sufficient instruction in spotting fake news…. Our students clearly need more media literacy education, and Wikipedia can be a good media literacy instrument. One way is to use it is with “lateral reading”. This means when faced with an unfamiliar online claim, students should leave the web page they’re on and open a new browser tab. They can then investigate what trusted sources say about the claim.”
How many Wikipedia references are available to read?
- The Wikimedia Foundation, Medium.com, 20 August 2018.
- 6 minute read. The article discusses measuring the proportion of open access sources across languages and topics.
- Less than half of the official versions of scholarly publications cited with an identifier in Wikipedia are freely available on the web: 29% are free-to-read at the source, while an additional 10% have a free-to-read version available elsewhere.
Wikipedia is open to all, the research underpinning it should be too.
- Tattersall Andy, LSE Blogs, 21 February 2022.
Our sample indicated that around half of all academic citations on the platform are paywalled. This is a major flaw in the Wikipedia model. Openly available published research helps support the development of Wikipedia. This in turn assists Wikipedia’s ultimate goal of access to transparent and evidence-based knowledge. It would also lower barriers to access research, which ultimately is good for academics and society.
We appreciate that not everything is open for the rest of society and it might be some time before that happens. But, given Wikipedia’s global influence and stated mission, the research that underpins each entry should be as open and accessible as possible. To take full advantage of this it requires a greater understanding amongst academics and Wikipedians as to the importance of citing open access works over those behind a paywall.
‘Disrupting the Publisher-Academic Complex’
- a talk by scientist Peter Murray-Rust at the British Library on 21 April 2018 (45 min video) about the ‘dystopia’ of the current scholarly publishing model.
- “Disruption does not mean illegality – it can be new technology, new philosophies, new people. We need a “Knowledge Spring” to break free of licences and all the other restrictive rubbish. Today’s publishers are like Bradbury’s firemen (Fahrenheit 451) – their role is to prevent reading.”
Peter Murray-Rust, University of Cambridge and ContentMine Ltd.
- Wikimedia UK, 30 December 2019 (19 minute video).
- Wikimedia UK is the national chapter for the global Wikimedia movement which supports Wikipedia and its sister sites. This video showcases the work of Wikimedia UK and the community of Wikimedians in the UK as they try to address gender bias and a lack of content on Wikipedia about women.
Science Is Shaped by Wikipedia: Evidence From a Randomized Control Trial.
- Research paper about how Wikipedia actively influences science development, providing evidence of causality, instead of the usual correlation. (Video presentation summarising the paper)
- “As the largest encyclopedia in the world, it is not surprising that Wikipedia reflects the state of scientific knowledge. However, Wikipedia is also one of the most accessed websites in the world, including by scientists, which suggests that it also has the potential to shape science. This paper shows that it does.”
‘Anyone can edit’, not everyone does: Wikipedia’s infrastructure and the gender gap
- “Less than ten percent of Wikipedia editors are women. At one level, this imbalance in contributions and therefore content is yet another case of the masculine culture of technoscience. This is an important argument and, in this article, we examine the empirical research that highlights these issues. Our main objective, however, is to extend current accounts by demonstrating that Wikipedia’s infrastructure introduces new and less visible sources of gender disparity. In sum, our aim here is to present a consolidated analysis of the gendering of Wikipedia.”
Wikipedia Co-Founder Jimmy Wales On The Future Of The Internet, Bitcoin, Web3, Cryptocurrencies And Encryption
- Roger Huang, Forbes.com, 16 December 2022.
- Fairly interesting wide-ranging chat with Jimmy Wales about all of the above.
Wikipedia on Olive Schreiner, like it or what?
- Professor Liz Stanley, University of Edinburgh, Whites Writing Whiteness: Letters, Domestic Figurations & Representations of Whiteness in South Africa 1770s-1970s, 18 July 2019.
- UoE Professor Liz Stanley grapples with what ‘expert’ academics role should be when it comes to ‘non-expert’ Wikipedia editors (potentially) getting things very wrong in such commonly visited web pages on their specialist subject. Asks some interesting questions.
- “Do these ‘hidden’ editors know about the topics under consideration, do they have a good grasp of what the current state of knowledge about something is, and do they understand how to evaluate the quality of different positions, ideas and claims? The bottom line is, are these editors able to detect serious issues in what an entry represents as knowledge?”
“I Was Devastated”: Tim Berners-Lee, the Man Who Created the World Wide Web, Has Some Regrets
- Katrina Brooker, Vanity Fair.com, 1 July 2018.
- “Initially, Berners-Lee’s innovation was intended to help scientists share data across a then obscure platform called the Internet, a version of which the U.S. government had been using since the 1960s. But owing to his decision to release the source code for free—to make the Web an open and democratic platform for all—his brainchild quickly took on a life of its own.”
- “He fully recognizes that re-decentralizing the Web is going to be a lot harder than inventing it was in the first place. “When the Web was created, there was nobody there, no vested parties who would resist,” says Brad Burnham… has started investing in companies aiming to decentralize the Web. “There are entrenched and very wealthy interests who benefit from keeping the balance of control in their favor.” Billions of dollars are at stake here: Amazon, Google, and Facebook won’t give up their profits without a fight.”
- Ann-Marie Corvin, Techinformed.com, 23 February 2023.
- The encyclopedia is determined to emerge from the insanity of a pandemic and a polarizing Biden v Trump election with its information and reputation intact.
‘What Counts as Information: The Construction of Reliability and Verifiability’
- Z.J. McDowell, and M.A. Vetter, (2021). Wikipedia and the Representation of Reality (1st ed.). Routledge. [Download and read Chapter 2]
- ” In essence, the encyclopedia decides “what counts” as knowledge as it evaluates, processes, and consequently validates information… In many ways, reliability in Wikipedia is a double-edged sword, as it is accompanied by both advantages and disadvantages. Verifiability, for example, helps to validate information and promote accuracy and trust in the encyclopedia. At the same time, the focus on print or written secondary sources, to the exclusion of other types of knowledge, limits Wikipedia’s ability to fully become reliable in terms of coverage of marginalized topics, or topics which have been developed through knowledge-making practices beyond print. These lessons are important for the general public that consumes and uses the encyclopedia, as well as for anyone that identifies as a newcomer to Wikipedia. Understanding even a small piece of how information becomes knowledge in Wikipedia can increase information literacy skills across other digital platforms.”
Should you believe Wikipedia? : online communities and the construction of knowledge.
- A. Bruckman (2022). Cambridge University Press. Read pages 64-90 [Chapter 3]
- What does it mean for something to be “true”? How is the internet changing how we understand truth? This chapter explores how theories of the nature of truth and knowledge can help us to understand the internet.
Students’ use of Wikipedia as an academic resource – Patterns of use and perceptions of usefulness.
- N. Selwyn & S. Gorard (2016). The Internet and Higher Education v.28 pp 28-34
Survey data examining 1658 undergraduate students’ uses of digital technologies for academic purposes found 87.5% of students report using Wikipedia for their academic work, with 24.0% of these considering it ‘very useful’.
Use and perceived usefulness of Wikipedia differs by students’ gender; year of study; cultural background and subject studied.
- Wikipedia mainly plays an introductory and/or clarificatory role in students information gathering and research.
“You get what you need”: A study of students’ attitudes towards using Wikipedia when doing school assignments.
- M. Blikstad-Balas (2016). Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research 60(6) pages 594-608.
- A discrepancy between students’ positive attitudes to including Wikipedia in their school-related literacy practices and their teachers’ lack of approval of this knowledge source is discussed.
Changing the Way Stories Are Told: Engaging staff and students in improving Wikipedia content about women in Scotland.
- E. McAndrew in Wikipedia and Academic Libraries: A Global Project (2021).
- Overview of the how & why of five years’ work at the University of Edinburgh targeting improved diversity of content and editors contributing to Wikipedia inc. Scottish suffragettes, Scottish witches and the Edinburgh Seven, the first female undergraduates to study at any UK university.
The Gender Divide in Wikipedia: Quantifying and Assessing the Impact of Two Feminist Interventions
- I. Langrock & S. González-Bailón, Journal of communication (2022).
Wikipedia is the last bastion of idealism on the internet
- Barbara Speed, Prospectmagazine.co.uk, 22 January 2021.
- Professor Danah Boyd, Corante.com, January 4 2005.
- Very early dissection of the tensions between academia and Wikipedia from way back in 2005.
Wikipedia, academia and Seigenthaler
- Professor Danah Boyd, Corante.com, 17 December 2005.
- Seigenthaler’s concern that “irresponsible vandals [can] write anything they want about anybody.” Much to my complete and utter joy, Jimmy Wales responded with a fantastic structural comparison that i felt should be surfaced and shared to the world at large about comparing Wikipedia as a steak restaurant. Worth a quick read.
Wikipedia: The Most Reliable Source on the Internet?
- Professor Amy Bruckman states the answer to “should you believe Wikipedia?” isn’t simple. In [her] book she argues “that the content of a popular Wikipedia page is actually the most reliable form of information ever created. Think about it—a peer-reviewed journal article is reviewed by three experts (who may or may not actually check every detail), and then is set in stone. The contents of a popular Wikipedia page might be reviewed by thousands of people. If something changes, it is updated. Those people have varying levels of expertise, but if they support their work with reliable citations, the results are solid. On the other hand, a less popular Wikipedia page might not be reliable at all.”
And some (lying) advice from ChatGPT itself:
There are several recent articles about Wikipedia that could make for an interesting book group discussion. Here are a few options to consider:
“The Co-Founder of Wikipedia Has a Plan to Fix the Internet” by Andrew Marantz in The New Yorker (published on April 12, 2021). This article explores the vision of Larry Sanger, one of Wikipedia’s co-founders, for a new decentralized internet that would be less susceptible to manipulation by corporations and governments.
“Wikipedia’s Plan to Resist Election Day Misinformation” by Amanda Hess in The New York Times (published on October 29, 2020). This article examines Wikipedia’s efforts to combat misinformation and disinformation during the 2020 U.S. presidential election, including the use of “edit-a-thons” to improve coverage of election-related topics on the site.
“The Uneasy Future of Wikipedia” by Tom Simonite in Wired (published on November 15, 2021). This article explores the challenges that Wikipedia faces as it seeks to maintain its status as a reliable source of information in an era of “fake news” and increasing skepticism towards traditional media.
“What Does Wikipedia Mean Now?” by Jia Tolentino in The New Yorker (published on February 17, 2020). This article reflects on the role that Wikipedia plays in shaping our collective understanding of the world, and considers the site’s limitations and biases.
Each of these articles offers a different perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of Wikipedia, and could spark a lively discussion about the site’s impact on the way we access and consume information online.
Reader: these sources do not exist.