Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Experts and Wikipedia

It is hard to resist the urge to share something that is one or more of the following. Isn't it? 

  • Inspiring
  • Thought-provoking
  • Humorous
  • Positive/optimistic/hopeful 
  • Paradoxical 

In other words, one feels extremely compelled to share things that fall into one or more of these categories.  It is harder to resist the urge if you love to write and enjoy, like the Master would say, spreading sweetness and light.

I was reading a thought-provoking article on Wikipedia and how it has changed the way we perceive knowledge creation and generation, wherein Marshall McLuhan is quoted as saying that technology can alter cognition (and to think we've been fond of saying 'Technology is only the enabler, folks').

Here are some extracts that I liked.

".....The place where an idea could be owned by a single person. One of McLuhan's genius insights was his understanding of how the shift from an oral culture to one based on print gave rise to our modern notion of the individual as the originaator and owner of particular ideas."

McLuhan foresaw. "If the printing press empowered the individual, the digital world empowers collaboration."

McLuhan's chief insights centered around the idea that technology strongly affects not only the content of culture, but the mind that creates and consumes that culture. He maintained that technology alters cognition itself, all the way down to its deepest, most elemental processes.

"It is not only our material environment that is transformed by our machinery. We take our technology into the deepest recesses of our souls. Our view of reality, our structures of meaning, our sense of identity—all are touched and transformed by the technologies which we have allowed to mediate between ourselves and our world. We create machines in our own image and they, in turn, recreate us in theirs"

In a traditional encyclopedia, experts write articles that are permanently encased in authoritative editions. The writing and editing goes on behind the scenes, effectively hiding the process that produces the published article. [...] Jaron focuses on the "finished piece," ie. the latest version of a Wikipedia article. In fact what is most illuminative is the back-and-forth that occurs between a topic's many author/editors. I think there is a lot to be learned by studying the points of dissent. [...]

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