A recent article by William Badke, published in Information Today (March 2008), entitled “What to do with wikipedia?“ challenges the oft quoted antipathy in academic circles towards the online encyclopedia wikipedia.
Often banned by professors, panned by traditional reference book publishers, and embraced by just about everyone else, Wikipedia marches on like a great beast, growing larger and more commanding every day. With no paid editors and written by almost anyone, it shouldn’t have succeeded, but it has. In fact, it’s now emerged as the No. 1 go-to information source in the world. It’s used not only by the great unwashed but also by many educated people as well.
Badke recognises that there are denouncers and enthusiasts camped on opposite sites of this social information divide. He urges us to move beyond the impasse by:
- encouraging the denouncers from the academic community to embrace wikipedia, improve it and connect it into other digital resources
- promoting greater information literacy so that people are better able to evaluate information they find on wikipedia and the wikipedia enthusiasts consult other sources to verify the information they are finding