Is Social media threatening Wikipedia with Extinction?

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In Summary: As the internet goes, so goes Wikipedia, according to Wired, and it’s not good. The shift from a “typographic culture to a photographic one, which in turn meant a shift from rationality to emotions, exposition to entertainment,” is threatening the open and democratic quest for knowledge first associated with the web — and all encyclopedic enterprises throughout history. While funding is less of a problem for the nonprofit Wikipedia, contributors to the website are dwindling — and so, argues Wired, is our thirst for knowledge. But divergent views have emerged with some suggesting that Wikipedia is not headed for extinction, others arguing that its model is not sustainable, and a few pointing fingers at the scholarly community as guilty of sending the encyclopedia to its early grave.

Sunnyvale, California—as the internet goes, so goes Wikipedia, according to Wired, and it’s not good. The shift from a “typographic culture to a photographic one, which in turn meant a shift from rationality to emotions, exposition to entertainment,” is threatening the open and democratic quest for knowledge first associated with the web — and all encyclopedic enterprises throughout history, the magazine said. While funding is less of a problem for the nonprofit Wikipedia now, contributors to the website are dwindling — and so, argues Wired, is our thirst for knowledge.

But divergent views have since emerged over the argument advanced by Wired Magazine as exemplified in the comments below. While some suggest Wikipedia is not headed for extinction, others argue that its model is not sustainable while several point to the scholarly community as the one sending the encyclopedia to an early grave.

Jay Martin

Jay Martin, a chief innovation and management consultant says: “I love Wikipedia and I usually give them money when I can.” He adds, “Part of the reason I don't want to contribute anymore is their 'qualification' police of what is worth and what is not.” Why bother, he asks, to take the time to prepare an article when it is just going to get flagged.  Also, “natural evolution is that much of what needs to be on wiki has already been created, just keeping it up to date becomes a problem.  They should have 'dates' be more prevalent so people know if it has been updated,” he says.

Commenting on the lingering demise of Wikipedia, Maria Fafard, speaker, facilitator, and executive coach says: “We need to understand that the decline of the web and thereby of the Wikipedia is part of a much larger civilizational shift which has just started to unfold.” A fascinating albeit depressing picture is painted in this Wired article, she says, adding, “I agree with the observations made by Wired Magazine about our society’s dramatically decreased appetite for knowledge, and yet I'm wondering if it's social media that's the sole reason behind this cultural shift.”  Then she offers another perspective: “I'd argue that a reduced value placed on liberal arts education also played a major role as well as our fast and deep adoption of technology (such as cell phones) without doing our due diligence analyzing their impact on society and human beings in it. Thoughts?”

Kyle Barber

But Kyle Barber, an MBA Student at California State University - Long Beach, points an accusing finger at the scholarly community. “Everyone here is looking for complex issues on the decline of Wikipedia. It really could be quite simple, he says. “School systems teach it as if Wikipedia is not trustable and provides fake info. Now my generation is older so many don't trust it to get information from it,” he states.

Voicing his support to the usefulness of the encyclopedia, urtis Harrell, Polymath, Autodidact says: “I don't know how true or accurate that is, I, for one use, Wikipedia as much as I use Google, which is to say every day, multiple times.” He adds, “as a matter of fact, Wikipedia is often the first source to show up for many types of Google searches. This statement is akin to saying that 'PCs are dead because of blah-blah-blah'. Not true, either, mostly just trendy clickbait.”

Jim Rossi

Jim Rossi, a writer for LinkedIn Top Voice, and historian says that another potential explanation is that Wikipedia has simply caught up with history. He says that most of the 24/7 infotainment is noise not signal.  Jim Ross further observes that “While I appreciate the author's POV, I recommend Jaron Lanier's "Digital Maoism" for another POV. I also do not believe what I read in WIRED anymore. I do not find the editor in chief, Nicholas Thompson, to be credible.” He says with finality:  “Political partisan masquerading as a journalist. And their contracts rip off writers while misleading readers & mining their private data for profit. Not a business model conducive to the credible dissemination of knowledge, to put it mildly.”

Adam Smith, “there is no replacement for Wikipedia”

 

On his part, Adam Smith, manager, media solutions marketing, East - YuMe (Account Executive / Media Strategist / Relationship Builder) suggests that there is no replacement for Wikipedia. “We can't just use images as glyphs to communicate; text provides deeper insight and full explanations of the content in this case. Sure, it's great to have a podcast or highlight reel, but that doesn't work for academia or for business,” he opines. However, he argues, “if Wikipedia needs to transition to a new business model vs. Craigslist-style crowdfunding, then so be it. It's very much needed. I use it constantly.”

Kim T, managing director @Gold Key Strategic Investment Group (SIG) says that knowledge is power.  Please keep #Wikipedia alive. One of the many volunteer Wikipedia editors, Steve Horton, also a private investor who focuses on the Internet of Things and data analytics in the music industry observes that “One important value is that all updates and entries need to be supported by verifiable factual data. “Wikipedia is not a magazine, a marketing tool or an editorial site.  Social media is subjected to the "fake news" syndrome with feelings overriding facts,” he says. “There still is a place for encyclopedic sites in the internet,” he says.

Bartley Wilson

Bartley Wilson, UX / UI 360° Cloud Designer (3D AR/VR), Google VR and HP Sprout Developer equally pitches for   Wiki. “Wiki is a necessary part of the very fabric that makes the Internet a useful tool.  But like all platforms, it costs money to run the servers.   We donate to Wiki and I wish more people and organizations would give more.”   He even makes a more radical suggestion: “Here's an opposite idea:  Why not take $1Billion out of the Government Black Ops budget and give it to Wiki. Wiki cannot afford to die. We need Wiki like we need libraries.  A repository for factual information 100% free from politics and advertising hype.” ”Like the DMOZ project, getting listed was about humans doing the work, not bots or having the cash to buy your way into visibility online like a Google AdWords campaign,” he opines.

Boris Bouiti Viaudo, Founder, CEO of Golden Business Solutions says that: “I read the whole wired article, interesting, nonetheless it sounds condescending toward social media. “The author omits to state that social media is just a medium, just like Wikipedia. It's the contributors inside the medium who make what it is,” he observes. He adds, “Social media can be used to share knowledge; in fact 2 million blog posts are created and shared every day.” The challenge for knowledge advocates is, he suggests, “they often don't know how to use social media to get their messages across. Social media is not the problem, those who complain about it complain for 2 reasons: 1) they don't know how to use it; 2) they lack creativity to spread their message.” Notice, he says, “How blogs evolved into vlogs, same content, and new format. The fact that the author wrote an article with 7000+ shares on Facebook contradicts his thesis.” Concluding, he suggests, “Knowledge advocates should hire marketing companies to make their content more appealing. Ride the wave or die.”

Source: LinkedIn

EDITOR’S NOTE:

The original article written by Hossein Derakhshan which appeared in WIRED Magazine can be found at:

https://www.wired.com/story/wikipedias-fate-shows-how-the-web-endangers-knowledge/?utm_campaign=crowdfire&utm_content=crowdfire&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin#MJFnztejie-li1508309149417

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