Home > Ethics, Learning, pedagogy, Web 2.0 > "The Resilient Power of Common Sense" – Wikipedia in the Economist

"The Resilient Power of Common Sense" – Wikipedia in the Economist

(originally posted on harterlearning on Mar 12, 2007)

The Economist just ran an article on Wikipedia, which while behind the times for us in ed. tech. blogging, is a good indicator on how the rest of the web-not-quite-2.0 world perceives it or will come to perceive it. After all, the Economist is the intellectual’s magazine.

Wikipedia has strengths too, chiefly the resilient power of collective common sense.

The article shares how anonymity can be a problem with Wikipedia, but then argues that collectively it is in fact VERY well maintained and that even many of the pretend-experts are conscientious, careful, and accurate.

Constant scrutiny and editing means even the worst articles are gradually getting better, while the best ones are kept nicely polished and up to date. Someone, eventually, will spot even the tiniest error, or tighten a patch of sloppy prose. Mr Jordan, for all his bragging, seems to have been a scrupulous and effective editor.

It’s a great article to share with your teachers. As much as I have tried, I come across teachers who are resistant to the idea that Wikipedia can be trusted or that Wikipedia can be used as a source by students. They think that they are teaching good research skills. I think they are missing an opportunity for students to think critically, to defend arguments, and to confirm information from other sources.

Has anyone else come across the attempting-to-be-web-savvy teacher who in efforts to show they are “with it” with new technologies, make the pre-emptive ban on using Wikipedia as a source with students?

Are we not missing out on conversations with students on “collective common sense”? Or global participatory culture? Educators complain about misuse and abuse of social networking sites like MySpace, but fail to acknowledge the powerful force for shared knowledge that Wikipedia (and other sites have become). Web 2.0 is being used for good right in front of even the most tech-resistant noses, but they miss it hiding behind “anyone could write it, so it’s not allowed.”

The quality of writing is often a good guide to an entry’s usefulness: inelegant or ranting prose usually reflects muddled thoughts and incomplete information. A regular user soon gets a feel for what to trust.

I thought that was a nice quote to describe exactly what we are missing out on, by not allowing kids to use Wikipedia. Don’t we want kids developing that skill of getting “a feel for what to trust”?

I’m going to be sharing this article with my staff. Let’s see if it can get our own conversation started.

[on a side note…Conservapedia?!? Really?!]

  1. December 23rd, 2014 at 07:17 | #1

    With havin so much written content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright violation? My site has a lot of completely unique content I’ve either written myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my permission. Do you know any solutions to help stop content from being stolen? I’d really appreciate it.

  2. August 31st, 2015 at 02:06 | #2

    9/11/2001- I was in the 8th grade at St. Raymond’s in East Rockaway. We attended mass that minnorg around 10 A.M., and at that point, all of the students were clueless as to what was happening. All the faculty knew, yet would not tell the kids as not to alarm them, but we were told something bad has happened. Something very bad. My mom, one of the lunch mothers, was the one who informed my classmates and I what had happened, and as more and more children found out (parents began to come get their kids), kids slowly began to leave school early. My dad has worked in the city my entire life, and he was all I could think about. That day, my dad had a scheduled meeting on the 81st floor of the North Tower, and would have been in the elevator going up when the plane struck. His meeting was cancelled, and he was home early that day, thanks be to God. I’ll never stop being grateful to have my dad with me today. One of my classmates, Kelly, was not so lucky, and lost her father that day, James Haran. I was 13 years old when 9/11 occurred. I couldn’t even begin to fathom how and why this could happen in what I thought at that age was a perfect world. The pride that this country has is such a beautiful thing, and it is so amazing to watch us all as Americans come together year after year on this day. I am so proud to be an American.God bless the Haran family, all who lost their lives, and everyone who lost their loved ones on that day, and God bless the Molloy community.

  1. March 31st, 2007 at 08:35 | #1