[KS] Wikipedia as resource (was: Salon article)

Charles Muller cmuller-lst at jj.em-net.ne.jp
Fri Mar 16 23:33:54 EDT 2007

Matthew Benuska wrote:

>     It’s equally easy to mock the Chinese and Korean
>     academics who are playing games with Northeast Asian history in
>     service of their own nationalism, but I say /hurrah/ to them as
>     well: They’re just engaging in an egregiously blatant display of
>     what historians and reporters and bloggers are doing everywhere, all
>     the time. By allowing us to track editorial changes, alter content
>     ourselves, and participate in metalevel arguments, Wikipedia gives
>     us a window-seat view of how “knowledge” is fabricated.

There are many problems with this kind of argument--which, to be 
properly be addressed, need to be broken down into separate issues. I'll 
address just one here.

One problem with the above position, is that it assumes that those with 
whom one will be wrangling (and let me tell you from experience, 
_wrangling_ is the right word here) will be persons with a given degree 
of academic training and a specialist's degree of expertise in a given area.

In fact, this is rarely the case. When Wikipedia first became popular a 
few years back, I experimented with it by adding in a few of my own 
articles (from the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism). In a matter of a few 
days, almost every single one had been chopped up, dumbed down, pumped 
with ideological biases and errors, and every sort of thing imaginable.

I took a stand against a few of these changes, consuming much time that 
could have been better spent in other ways, only to eventually realize 
that the main person that I was debating with was either a child, or 
someone with a child's level of intellectual and emotional development.

I've never touched Wikipedia since, except to make some corrections in 
an entry that someone wrote about me.

I believe that if academies and academics are interested in creating 
really worthwhile online resources, they can spend their time much more 
efficiently by gathering into collaborative groups and creating their 
own resources over which they have full editorial control. I expect that 
we will begin to see this sort of thing as time passes. Wikipedia should 
be seen as one imperfect phase of development of online knowledge resources.




Charles Muller

Toyo Gakuen University
Faculty of Humanities
1660 Hiregasaki, Nagareyama-shi
Chiba 270-0161 JAPAN
Mobile Phone: 090-9310-1787

Web Site: Resources for East Asian Language and Thought


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