Graceblair’s Blog


Wikipedia – Online Phenomenon

I have to say, as a school student this was my initial and favourite form of ‘research’. Although blacklisted by just about all teachers Wikipedia is an excellent source of information on just about every topic you can imagine, from Intergalactic digital research to The Wiggles. With almost 3 millions articles written in English alone, this is a great example of citizen journalism in practise.  

Wikipedia defines itself as “a free, multilingual encyclopaedia project” (http://en. wikipedia.org  ). In 2006, Time magazine recognised the people as Person of the Year. This act recognised the success of online collaboration and the interaction of millions of user’s world wide. It was recognised as one of three services that falls under Web 2.0.

Bruns states that through the creating, establishment and continuation of Wikipedia, we experience not what is known as actual knowledge but what are representations of knowledge. As a major factor of produsage, the forum allows the entire public to log on and to add/delete/edit news and facts about just about anything.

One of the greatest arguments about Wikipedia is the fact that its information is not correct, but as I have discussed in previous weeks, accuracy comes from the large number of produsers adding to specific pages. Bruns himself acknowledges that “though built through open participation, fluid heterarchical community structures, and ad hoc governance, (Wikipedia) is therefore not a rules-free zone; instead, it has developed a set of increasingly specific and complex policies for content creation and community collaboration” (Bruns, 113). The somewhat questionable status of this open sourced information is therefore justifiably accurate.

Axel Bruns acknowledges that citizen journalism “holds one of the keys to restoring access to public participation in one of the core institutions of modern society” (Bruns, pg 101). Through the enablement of new forums for knowledge, produsage and citizen journalism ties information in to the human endeavour for knowledge.

So how does this at all relate to public health? Well, as part of the almost 3 millions pages dedicated to the English speaking world, a large amount of the information is health related. A quick search can bring up articles such relating to Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD), Coronary Heart Disease and there is even a page dedicated to warts. Not that it is a highly recommended source for health related information and internet diagnosis is not at all encouraged, the forum does provide a large amount of information. This is particularly helpful for a first source of information for people who are unaware of specific medical conditions and are looking for some basic information.

Next week’s blog will be focusing on Experts and Amateurs, I do hope you come back to read on. As I remind you every week, please feel free to leave me any comments or extra information.

 

References

Axel Bruns. (2007). Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage. New York: Peter Lang.

Wikipedia. (2009). Wikipedia. [Online] Available At: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipdia [Accessed 7 May, 2009].