Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Changing the Epistemology of Wikipedia

Wikipedia aims to collaboratively collect the “sum of all human knowledge" (in the words of Jimmy Wales). However, some critics of Wikipedia believe that the whole Western tradition of footnotes and sourced articles needs to be rethought if Wikipedia is going to continue to gather converts beyond its current borders.  

Achal Prabhala, an adviser to the Wikimedia Foundation, expressed his criticism in a video project, “People are Knowledge”:

People are Knowledge (subtitled) from Achal R. Prabhala on Vimeo.

Prabhala suggests that Wikipedia should allow video and audio statements of people as sources to support articles. This would allow capturing non-written forms of knowledge.

My two cents: If we see knowledge as a social construct, then could Wikipedia add a social voting system for articles (similar to Amazon.com or Youtube). Readers could vote for the reliability of an article and indicate the level of their expertise. This could give readers another indicator of the trustworthiness of a Wikipedia article. 

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