Group 3 Commentary

Megan, Jared and Anne-Randolph please provide your commentary on any ideas raised, or neglected, in the question, response and discussion process during the preceding week. And if so inclined you may revisit and comment on previous questions, responses, discussions and commentaries.

I feel that today’s discussion on chapters 4 and 5 of “Here Comes Everybody,” went well. When we met as a group to organize today’s discussion, we were slightly discouraged to find that there was only 1 response for our chapter 5 questions, and it seemed that a majority of people responded to the first question posted. Despite this, the live discussion seemed to encourage more people to respond and share their thoughts. Perhaps because they felt more prepared to talk about it, because most of the class responded to the question about our new social tools and how they are compared to the likes of the printing press and telephone, there was a lot of discussion on it.

After reading many of the responses, I find myself agreeing with the majority: that the new social tools are not “inventions” but “improvements.” I feel that social networking sites, such as Facebook, will soon be replaced by something newer and better; it will be improved. I feel that the Internet, and the use of the Web 2.0 and all that it offers us, is the “tool” that can be compared to the printing press.

I found a new respect of sorts for Wikipedia after reading Chapter 5. I had always regarded the site as being untrustworthy; the idea that anyone could edit any article on the site had me weary. However, after reading and learning about the seemingly intense amount of editing that occurs, I feel that the information found on Wikipedia might be more reliable than I originally thought. I do agree with many of the points that were brought up as well. One student suggested that Wikipedia might still be deemed as invalid to people of our age and our professors because we were just starting to write long research papers when Wikipedia started; and at that point, Wikipedia was not comparable to what it is today. I also agree with Katie’s idea that Wikipedia offers us the most up to date information, as other encyclopedias cannot just be edited on the spot. I feel that I will continue to use Wikipedia as a starting point for information, but I do not think I will cite it in any of my papers still to write.

Even though we had only a few minutes to talk about power law, I enjoyed hearing everyone’s opinion about it, especially with regards to the Engineering department and their use of Wiki’s for advising. I have wondered a lot recently how anyone ever graduates from this school. I feel that you can ask 10 different advisors or professors the same question, and you will get 10 different answers. The idea that students can all contribute information for their peers to refer to is an excellent one; who else knows better than those who have already experienced it?

Looking forward to the next groups to lead discussion, I will definitely make sure I really read and look at all of the questions posted, and try to offer as much feedback on as many questions as I can. Again, even though the distribution of responses was a bit skewed, the discussion seemed to flow and I thought it was successful.
- Anne-Randolph Scott

Since I was not able to make the presentation I am basing my commentary on Anne-Randolph’s response and class responses to the questions my team posed two weeks ago. At first I was a little disheartened by the lack of response to the questions and chapter regarding Wikipedia. I used to believe that tools like Wikipedia and Google were having profound effects on the way students learn and take in information. However, after reading the chapter on Wikipedia and after some of the work I did as a part of Team 3 my opinion actually changed in regards to Wikipedia. Shirky on page 119 writes that, “Wikipedia assumes that new errors will be introduced less frequently than existing ones will be corrected. This assumption has proven correct; despite occasional vandalism, Wikipedia articles get better, on average, over time.” This is not the only place I have seen this information.

I am not sure if Anne-Randolph and Jared had time to play the NPR radio clip I found online, but in that clip it explains that a science journal found that Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia actually have similar number of errors. One point made during the discussion that Anne-Randolph mentioned in her commentary was that someone suggested that Wikipedia might be considered an invalid source his because it was sketchy when most of us were beginning to write long research papers. However, the study mentioned in the NPR clip was conducted in 2005 when most of us were still in high school. Most of my high school teachers had been teaching for at least 10 years and so any internet sources were frowned upon – not just Wikipedia. I think the biggest change in the past few years is that Wikipedia can be seen as a legitimate quick reference – just like an encyclopedia which is a traditional source of this same kind of knowledge. With any type of “pedia” it is always necessary to seek more information about the subject one wishes to know about.

This is part of what made me change my mind about how much of an impact Wikipedia has on education and learning processes. What we have with Wikipedia – thanks to the vigilant editors I saw at work when we attempted to make a Wikipedia page about Professor Collier – is a reliable resource for cursory information on subjects.
-Megan Mercer

When we as a group met on Sunday night before class the next day, we were a bit discouraged at the distribution of answers to our questions. I had added a note to the top of the questions page asking the rest of the class to read all the questions before they answered, but still we only received one response to chapter 5. What is strange is the fact that the majority of our discussion on Monday involved Wikipedia, even though so few people answered those questions.

The main idea I think that arose from our discussion is that the invention of new things may be going the way of the dinosaurs. It seems that today we are seeing more innovations and improvements on existing products rather than the creation of new ideas. The car is the perfect personal transportation device so there is no need to come up with anything new besides what can make the car better.

Now, since everyone in that room on Monday was an English major, we could not help moving the discussion onto what this idea could mean for our quickly approaching professional careers. Someone mentioned that editing could be a very important skill in the future, and I have to agree with them. The human race has stock piles of information sitting around in labs and computers, but there is a need to make that information easily understood by the general public. Those who can edit for better understanding, like Shirky did to that Wikipedia article, could find themselves in a very competitive job market in the next ten or so years. It was pointed out how inept engineers are at writing during our discussion, so here’s to all my peers in the English department who will help these gear heads get published.
-Jared Putman

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