20.107 student use of Wikipedia

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2006 07:28:03 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 20, No. 107.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2006 07:17:23 +0100
         From: "Matt Kirschenbaum" <mkirschenbaum_at_gmail.com>
         Subject: Re: 20.087 student use of Wikipedia

I included the following note in a recent manuscript in which I cited

"A note on Wikipedia as a scholarly source of record: while its open
knowledge environment has become notorious for its potential for
abuse, technical information is among the most reliable of content
domains on Wikipedia, given the high interest of such entries among
Wikiepdia's readership and the consequent editorial attention (and
expertise) they attract. The substance of the material quoted above
has been stable since 23 November 2004 01:28, information which
Wikipedia's own intricate version control system allowed me to

Wikipedia's revision history and versioning functions offer those
users who so avail themselves far more transparency than a printed
source ever could. The cut and thrust of every slash and parry in the
"edit wars" is thus pitilessly exposed.

The larger context for this point is one that will be familiar to
readers of Humanist: it is very difficult to ascribe "essential"
features to electronic documents. Rather, the behaviors and
characteristics of a particular electronic environment are a function
of how the designers of that environment choose to model experience.
In the specific case of Wikipedia, textual experience has been modeled
in such a way as to encourage attention to a document's revision and
editing cycle. Matt

Matthew Kirschenbaum
Assistant Professor of English
Associate Director,
Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH)
University of Maryland
301-405-8505 or 301-314-7111 (fax)
Received on Thu Jul 13 2006 - 04:33:58 EDT

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