How many “reallys” does it take Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales to describe how he feels about Edward Owens? Three. In an interview on a recent edition of the podcast Tech Therapy, Wales (who admitted up front he hadn’t heard of the work my students had done), said, “Things like that really, really, really annoy me.”
I know he’s a busy man and I’m sure he’s very tired of hearing about this or that false entry or false edit of an entry in Wikipedia, but Jimmy, if you are a reader, I’d suggest taking a look at both the discussion of the course on this blog (and elsewhere) and even more to the point the delete/save discussion on the Edward Owens entry itself. Both conversations expose the parameters of the conversation about the course, information literacy among young adults, and the nature of crowd sourced knowledge in general and quickly move away from the vandalism-is-annoying oversimplification.
In fact, I have to admit that I’ve become very, very, very bored with the entire conversation about whether or not Wikipedia (or any crowd sourced resource) is “valid” or not. Perhaps, instead it is time to simply accept crowd sourced information as a category of information with its own attributes and move on. For instance, we don’t seem to have the same level of discomfort with government reports that are the product of several, perhaps dozens or even hundreds of nameless government officials? If every author of the new health care law here in the States was listed, we’d probably have to add another pound or so of paper to each copy. I think it’s just time to move on to more interesting topics than whether we should accept crowd sourced information or not.