I’ve always though of Wikipedia as a fairly reliable source of information. I know, anybody can edit any page they want to, to say whatever they want. It happens, however, people catch on to it pretty quickly. Most of the false information being put up is mostly meant to be a practical joke, and is taken down almost immediately. We have this idea that everything on Wikipedia is false and unreliable, but yet we all use it and all trust it. We are accepting that it is true, and it is, for the most part, a quick and easy way to find information about an unfamiliar subject. The falsehoods presented on there don’t last long and are nothing to worry about, they are just something we will have to expect in order to use such a massive user-generated encyclopedia covering almost any subject imaginable.
Skype is absolutely amazing. It is one of the few technologies imagined in the past, such as from the 50s and 60s, which have actually come true. The ability to see and talk with another person over a vast distance is the realization of a dream. It’s so useful for business meetings, personal contacts, and much more. The best part is that it is free for the basic features; one to one video call, conference voice call, as well as others. The quality of the calls over the Internet is also amazing. Most people assume that the calls will be slow and glitch, but they rarely are. This technology has already surpassed its expectations in usefulness.
I remember first using the Wikipedia site and enjoyed spending hours following links around and learning about new things. I didn't used to question its validity. Once I got to high school and had to do research for more of my papers, I heard from my teachers that Wikipedia shouldn't be used for research or citing in papers. Then I learned more about the way it worked, but it seemed to me that as long as a statement had a citation it was reliable enough, especially for my perusal. I still wouldn't use it for citing, but it can be useful to look at the sources it uses and using those for your research.
I never knew the logistics of Skype and other VoIP calling clients, but the technical nature is pretty astounding. To not only hear but also see the person one is talking to can make the experience a lot better for those that cannot be physically present with those people for some reason. It is not something that I have ever used regularly but has a purpose for many people in different situations.
I think that most people still really underestimate the resource that Wikipedia provides. We grew up with our teachers telling us to never use this site for essay or research information because anyone can edit it, therefore it can't be very accurate all the time. Yes, it's true that anyone can edit a Wikipedia page, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's not accurate. I personally had to create a new Wikipedia page for one of my writing classes last year, and what I found from this experience was that the website is not all that it seems. There are actually "computer robots" that go through every new page and newly added information to access the accuracy of the content. They then choose to either disregard and delete it, or let it pass through. Many people in my class wrote a new page for a new term, and within minutes of posting it was deleted. Also, if you create a login username you can search trough the "history" of each page where you can see exactly when it was created, and when and what information was changed or edited. With all considering, new information is learned on a daily basis. To have a site that allows anyone to come in and update new information at any time is, in my opinion, creating a site that may just be more accurate than we believe it to be.
Skype is also one of the greatest technologies that has impacted my life. I use it on a weekly basis to talk to my brother in California. It's such a great experience to be able to not only hear the person you are talking to, but to see them as well. I think this really enhances the communication experience by making it more personal. You can see their facial expressions and view the setting they are in. It's almost as if you were actually there with the person you are talking to.
I found the article about Wikipedia being almost as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica. Wiki has always seemed like a taboo when writing academic papers. Since high school, I've been told that anyone can edit it, therefore you can't trust the information. It's been engrained into my head. When I have a random question, I Google it, and Wiki is usually the first thing to pop up. And for that, I think it's just fine. But I would never use it for research purposes. I thought it was interesting that 80 percent of editors are young, white, childless men. It's true, there's nothing wrong with that group of people, but we do need more diverse points of view. It would be interesting to see what group of people is writing/editing the Encyclopedia Britannica, though.
Skype saved me from my homesickness freshman year. I was shocked when my parents actually figured out how to work it (it took a little coaching by phone), but it was so extremely helpful. I don't use it as much anymore. I FaceTime my brother sometimes to chat and say hi to my puppy niece. I talk to my parents every day but we don't skype anymore. Now I'm so busy that I only call when I am walking somewhere. I don't have time to sit in my room and talk to them. But that's beside the point. I think the coolest thing about skype is that it's using technology, something that is supposedly ruining our communication skills, to bring back face to face (sort of) communication.
Both Wikipedia articles were interesting. I must admit that I had never given serious thought to who authors Wikipedia entries prior to reading the “Wikipedia is Sexist…” article. I figured as long as an entry has credible references and doesn’t seem blatantly wrong, then that was acceptable. Upon giving the topic further consideration, I completely agree that it’s important to have a number of different kinds of contributors to entries. While a neutral perspective, as the article points out, is the ultimate goal, such a perspective is hard to obtain when a very homogenous group is doing the bulk of the contributing. I was also pleased to read the article regarding Wikipedia’s accuracy. While I don’t believe in using Wikipedia as a definitive source for things such as papers, I do think it is a great resource for getting an overview of topics, and the reference section for an entry can lead to some valuable sources that go into more depth.
The articles on VoIP were helpful because they gave, in part, an overview of exactly how the technology works, which is something that often gets lost in all the excitement over what cool things VoIP can do. I know that Skype has enriched my relationships with family, as the one article discussed. I chucked at the comment “136 years after Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone, he could finally see what Watson was wearing!” (Whent). Beyond the humor of that comment, it really is amazing how far telephony has come in a little more than a century.
I loved reading an article about the relative accuracy of Wikipedia because I totally use it to get basic knowledge for work and for school all the time. A lot of the time, I wish that I could just use the information from Wikipedia in my papers instead of finding a “more accurate” source that says the exact same thing; I’ve had teachers in my classes recommend more and more often to consult Wikipedia for general knowledge and then to use their sources at the bottom of the page to find articles to use in our papers. I work at the Center for Writing, and a lot of the exchange students who come into the center cite Wikipedia though out their research paper for WRIT 1301. I always feel bad telling them to take Wikipedia out as a source and just find some other author to cite instead since I know it’s just extra busy work, but I also know that they will get a bad grade if they keep Wikipedia in as an official citation. Maybe a decade from now, this won’t be frowned upon any longer in academia.
The articles for this week's presentations were really interesting. I use Wikipedia very frequently to gain basic information or background on a subject. I think it is a good tool to get acquainted with a subject, but I know that the facts on the site need to be verified by a credible source.
I especially enjoyed reading about Skype. I related most closely to the skype article because I studied abroad in London last year for 5 months. I had not travelled too much, especially outside the country halfway around the world for a significant amount of time. Skype was so valuable to me while I was there. I was able to skype from my lap top and from my iphone. I usually skyped with my parents on my lunch break because it was morning in the States. I can't explain the feeling when you don't see or talk to family or other loved ones for so long and then you see their face on skype. It's a pure joyous feeling. I was able to talk to my friends and family and I can't imagine how homesick I might have felt without skype. The only negative thing about skype was I would sometimes have problems with the internet connection, calls would get lost or the sound would be delayed. Skype also has a really cool feature where let's say for example you do not have access to a video to use skype. Well, users can purchase skype minutes (at an affordable amount) for a certain amount of allotted minutes. When both parties are connected to wifi, they can talk on the phone. It was the best thing ever...until my minutes ran out :(
Although there have been cases where Wikipedia has been flat out untrue about some fact or another, on the whole it is quite interesting that it is generally fairly accurate. I was always told in middle school and highschool that wikipedia was an unreliable resource, but in college I've found that even if its article itself isn't super in depth, following sources as one would in any academic work leads to a lot of great material. As far as sexism within Wikipedia, it definitely could be a real issue. As much as people won't want to believe it, the proliferation of a specific group on a website really does change how that website handles itself and the information presented on it. One must be sure to cite information as accurately as possible to avoid personal bias, but the idea that bias is coming from the articles they draw from, that being there is little coverage of women and minorities compared to white males, is a harder one to tackle. Although it may seem an insurmountable task, making sure that the source of information that people draw from readily (wikipedia) is as gender/race/sex unbiased as possible will lead to a more equal discussion sphere as a whole, which again will lead to even better articles and less bias upon the wiki.
I think particularly if you are college age, Skype is a pretty big part of your life, or at least initially. I remember when I left for college me and my friends promised that we would Skype once a week - when the realities of college set in, this was not the case. However, we do Skype from time to time and we much prefer it over email or phone calls. When I was writing that sentence it reiterated to me how large of a transformation Skype has had on us. Like Google, Skype has become a verb.
I liked that the article also pointed out the use of Skype with telecommuting. I know that in one of my previous jobs which was a global program, they had recently implemented Skype to help facilitate their meetings with the head of the organization who lived in another state. It was a huge change from a conference call and made the meeting much more seamless - because now nonverbal cues could be monitored, something which is quite limited over a conference phone. For me, I am interested on how this will affect virtual learning a field I am interested in. Predominantly in the corporate world there are conferencing programs like WebEx for training which do not incorporate videostreaming. I wonder if there will be a move towards incorporating a technology like Skype to ease virtual training.
I have never thought about the possibility of bias entering Wikipedia. I had always read it skeptically for factual accuracy, but bias is such a tougher aspect of writing to judge. The article about the gender bias was interesting because it pointed out the fact that most of the editors of Wikipedia are white young men, which seemed odd at first, but then I realized that Wikipedia is probably most updated by academia, and unlike the changes we have noticed in the rest of the work force academia still seems to be predominantly white men. What it also made me think, though, is you can't necessarily blame Wikipedia for this happening, as it is something that is done completely by volunteering, so to avoid bias people from more perspectives need to get active in the community because I, and the rest of the world, wants to hear their side too.
This page contains a single entry by Capper Nichols published on April 29, 2013 3:30 PM.
"The Serfdom of Crowds" - Jaron Lanier; "Liking is for Cowards. Go For What Hurts." - J Franzen was the previous entry in this blog.
"Shopping List for a Desert Island"- Tom Neale is the next entry in this blog.
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