May 14th, 2006

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09:52 pm - on Wørds and Wisdom... (and a little about Women at the end)

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on Wørds and Wisdom... (and a little about Women at the end) - graffiti.maverick — LiveJournal

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[User Picture]From: cuddlyd00m Date: May 15th, 2006 - 11:00 am (Link)
I use it. Even for academic purposes. However, in those cases, my main purpose is to get a basic idea of the topic, and check their outside links to get more info. I also check the discussion pages to get an idea of what parts of the page are under suspicion. Generally, though, the pages on biochemistry/bioengineering tend to be pretty accurate. For the most part, people don't bother posting on those pages if they don't know what they're talking about, and you're not going to be getting wikigraffiti over there. (Really, who the fuck cares enough to mess with an explanation on matrix-associated laser desorption ionization mass spectroscopy.)

The problem I generally have is that I can use Web of Science to find journal articles on whatever topic, but I'm going to be getting specific information on tiny minutiae within that topic. In the case of MALDI-MS, I had to look it up to find out what the damn acronym meant. Minutiae don't help me - I need an overview. For that, Wikipedia is perfect.

All of that said, I _never_ use Wikipedia to look up anything related to current events. People are just too likely to want "their" version of events to be recorded for posterity, without disclosing their innate biases.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: May 15th, 2006 - 11:57 am (Link)



uh... yeah...

as for current events, I don't know that I think its useless. Its just not authoratative. Especially in the very near term. Say a US Senator is assassinated. 5 min. later, the news would be all over the internet. Wikipedia will have the story. Granted there will be some mistakes, like, probably some people will report it wrong and it'll be the president. Others will report it wrong and it will be the entire Capitol building blowing up. But within the hour, that should mostly calm down and we'd have the basic facts right. And in the meantime, the sociological game of telephone is pretty interesting too. If you want absolute facts, use google news. And in the near term, that's going to be skewed too.

Obviously, I picked a very exaggerated example. But look at any real story. Katrina coverage, War in Iraq, NSA wire-tapping, whatever. Any newspaper is going to have a slant one way or the other. Wikipedia is interesting because its slant is always moving. Did Bush do something illegal with wiretapping? It doesn't really matter in the long run. What matters is whether the US people believe he did or not. I find that in general wikipedia is a pretty reasonable barometer for that sort of thing.

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