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“Information Wants to Be Free”: The Wiki Model

// Posted by on 01/26/2014 (10:41 PM)

Creator of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, Speaks at TED Conference in 2005

Jimmy Wales: How a Ragtag Band Created Wikipedia

“Wikipedia begins with a very radical idea, and that’s for all of us

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Creator of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, Speaks at TED Conference in 2005

Jimmy Wales: How a Ragtag Band Created Wikipedia

“Wikipedia begins with a very radical idea, and that’s for all of us to imagine a world where every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge, and that’s what we’re doing.”

– Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia creator

It no surprise that the freely-licensed Encyclopedia, Wikipedia, has foundations that can be traced back to the cyberculture movement and specifically the development of The WELL, one of the first online communities. As we discussed in class, the Wiki model is somewhat controversial and interesting. Watching the 2005 TED talk by Wikipedia creator Jimmy Wales furthered the connections we had made in class about free information and self-governing systems. Jimmy Wales’s Wiki Model fosters a “community” much like the one created by The WELL. This community abides by a non-negotiable neutrality policy that upholds the social concept of cooperation, as Wikipedia does not take a stand on issues, but rather aims to give the public information they need to make good decisions. As explained by Wales, the governing of Wikipedia consists of a mix of consensus, some democracy (i.e. elected administrators have ability to delete pages but have to follow the rules), some aristocracy (votes by respected Wikipedians have more weight), and monarchy (the community entrusts in Wales for hard decisions). The Wikipedia community is “close-knit” and consists of ~600-1,000 people (in 2005) who are in constant communication within the community and outside of it. Interestingly, only about 18% (2005 estimate) of all the edits are done by anonymous users.

The Wiki Model, just like the countercultural to cyberculture movement, occurred organically: “The free-form nature of the Wiki software lets the community determine how it wants to interact.” For example, when someone in the community votes on a page’s deletion, it is more of a dialogue than a vote and members discuss the potential of the page and the progress that can be made on it, all while abiding by the neutrality policy.

Although the neutrality policy is strict, “anyone who wants to pitch in is in charge,” as said by Jimmy Wales, and further supports the self-governing ideals and breaks down hierarchy. I thought this structure was very directly related to the paragraph on p.224 (Chapter 7) about “nested hierarchies.” As discussed above, Wikipedia has some sort of nested hierarchies, but its existence does not necessarily prohibit equality: “…so hierarchies do indeed exist. But they are ubiquitously distributed, which renders them an egalitarian force.”

In general, I thought it was highly interesting that Wales had spoke about Wikipedia at this TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) Conference, as it is considered “one of the most important networking events in the computer industry,” (p.211) and has very close connections to the Wired network, the GBN, and Digital Visionaries as a whole.

“Wiki model is the way we work, but we are not fanatical web anarchists. We are very flexible about the social methodology because it is ultimately the passion of the community is for the quality of the work, not necessarily for the process that we use to generate it.”

–Wales


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Digital Education

// Posted by on 04/01/2013 (12:47 AM)

The digital world as a third space exists globally as an alternative universe for many users. The network is global, made up of infinite localities. Local problems now have the opportunity to receive attention in a global forum and attract… Read more

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The digital world as a third space exists globally as an alternative universe for many users. The network is global, made up of infinite localities. Local problems now have the opportunity to receive attention in a global forum and attract attention through that outlet. Digital culture pervades much of our daily lives at University of Richmond and I believe the same is becoming increasingly true across the nation and across the world. Every day people are finding new ways to use this digital space to improve or change their situation in their current physical space. Right now, look at education in the US. It’s no secret that college in the US is expensive. Many students will graduate in debt from student loans and countless others will not be able to afford college in the first place. But what if all it took to get an education was a laptop?

Salman Khan, a former analyst at a hedgefund, founded Khan Academy, a not-for-profit organization that seeks to provide “a free world-class education to anyone anywhere.” The Khan Academy was voted one of the 50 best websites of 2011 by TIME Magazine. There are over 2000 videos in 27 languages that cover a range of subjects and topics. Khan came up with the idea for his organization while tutoring his cousins remotely via YouTube videos. Now, because of Khan’s organization, millions of people worldwide have access to this digital classroom. What also makes this classroom unique is the structure; the student learns at his or her own pace, meaning that no student is left behind.

In this TEDTalk from Khan, he discusses his inspiration and vision for the Academy and the ways it can influence what is happening in the physical space for education.

What are the implications of a shift to digital education? Will college attendance numbers decrease? Is there a reliable measure of success from digital education versus a “physical” education? For those without the time or resources to earn a full degree at a university, Khan Academy could be an opportunity for upward social mobility. An education opens the doors to a whole range of careers and access to other connected resources. Where do you think there is the most potential for this type of digital education? Could it help immigrants from Mexico and elsewhere to earn better wages and fill more specialized positions? Is digital education useful for US citizens?


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Be The Hero

// Posted by on 04/01/2012 (12:30 PM)

After watching Jane McGonigal’s Ted Talk on how gaming can make the world a better place it got me thinking. I dove in a little further and asked how is this possible how could the superheros of video… Read more

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After watching Jane McGonigal’s Ted Talk on how gaming can make the world a better place it got me thinking. I dove in a little further and asked how is this possible how could the superheros of video games become real life? McGonigal specifically talks about how much time we spend on video games and how you could be using that time to make a change as well as have fun. Video games bring people together. People from China are playing people in the United States and people from the United States are playing people in England. Video games have there own little web of five degrees of separation where in some instances, everyone knows everyone. There are the best players and the worst players, then the new ones and the old ones. But all these players have skills. So what if we harness these skills use them for good instead of evil in a sense.

Like McGonigal said we should create a video game that lets people help solve the oil crisis, theses gaming superstars could become superheros. They could help save the world in their own way. People try to be superheros all the time and people try to make a difference. Sites like Great Americans talk about average everyday citizens who make these incredible acts with no reward in mind, they do it because no one else is.

In this video a firefighter talks about how she saved a man and his son while driving home from work one late afternoon. She didn’t have to do it but she did. I think we are naturally inclined to help people so why wouldn’t a video game that makes a difference work? I think given the option and knowing it makes a difference we would be more inclined to play it and become that real life superhero.


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The Honest News?

// Posted by on 02/28/2012 (11:26 PM)

Wiki-leaks creator Julian Assange has been under heavy fire the past few years with his honest posts about what is truly going on in the world. The website has been criticized and governments have attempted to shut it down but… Read more

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Wiki-leaks creator Julian Assange has been under heavy fire the past few years with his honest posts about what is truly going on in the world. The website has been criticized and governments have attempted to shut it down but it stays strong. Is there a reason? Assange believes so.

Early this month Phylicia posted about how America receives watered down news in comparison to other countries and its true. Like Assange says Wiki-leaks is a site where you can get true information about things that are happening that we are not being told. Some may say that there is a reason we aren’t being told, that its to protect us or the people it involves, but shouldn’t it be our decision? This can also be tied to our discussion on the war in the Middle East. Although we know we are in a war, we don’t really know why we are there or what is actually going on, Wiki-leaks gives us actual information and gives us the option of knowing what is going on.

So is Wiki-leaks something that needs to stick around or to governments have the right idea in trying to shut it down?


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The New Whole Earth Catalog

// Posted by on 01/24/2012 (2:13 PM)

Just an interesting video I found that reminded me of Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog, the first blog, so to speak. It turns out that collaboration for the greater good as opposed to getting a profit does still exist. Here’s… Read more

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Just an interesting video I found that reminded me of Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog, the first blog, so to speak. It turns out that collaboration for the greater good as opposed to getting a profit does still exist. Here’s to doing-it-yourself!

Also here is the link to R&D-I-Y

 


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Rulers of…the Internet?

// Posted by on 01/15/2012 (11:31 PM)

The internet, mass media, social networking, and communication have reached new levels in the past ten years. Here in Virginia it takes approximately six seconds to download a 4-MB music file according to WIRED magazine. Within seconds information about anything… Read more

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The internet, mass media, social networking, and communication have reached new levels in the past ten years. Here in Virginia it takes approximately six seconds to download a 4-MB music file according to WIRED magazine. Within seconds information about anything can be pulled up on the smallest of deceives. Thirteen year old children carry around IPhones, main newspapers have apps in which you can get instant current events, and television shows can be streamed through the internet. The world is connected in every way possible and who is at the center of this? Us. This generation that has grown up in the age of technology and new media is leading the way. We have become authors of the internet; we have changed the face of how information travels.

Websites like Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Foursquare, and Myspace have changed the way we communicate in between people. We no longer pick up a telephone and call someone when we want to spread news. We simply post a status, send a tweet or long in at our location. You can become the King of Gold’s Gym after logging in multiple times, you can become Tumblr famous after gaining thousands of followers. People like Taylor-Ruth Baldwin a 17 year old high school student created a blog showcasing her chronicle of high school angst one summer as a way to vent her pent up frustration. Now today she has over 15,000 followers. She has become Tumblr famous. High school and college students are becoming rulers of the internet. They are creating trends and running with them. Twelve year old, Thomas Suarez is creating IPhone apps and developing programs to teach other middle school students how to do the same.

But what makes you a ruler of the digital world? Is it your ability to gain followers and friends? Is it you’re content? Are you funny? Are you something fresh and new? What if it’s just the simple fact that you know a little more than the older generations about the internet and this new technology? What if there is nothing extraordinary about you and you are just like every other person your age? If that’s the case then how do we find the balance between these competing generations, both trying to find their place in this new age of technology? How do we find out who is controlling this vast internet world?

We don’t. We will never know who controls the internet because there isn’t anyone who controls the internet, it’s an open vat of information that people can put in whatever they want and take out whatever they want. The internet is what we want to be. People use it connect all over the globe. A stranger picks up a person’s layaway bill out of a simple gesture of kindness, they do this because someone else did it and posted about it on the internet. We are interlinked all over the world because of the internet. We are all rulers of this new digital age where everyone accesses the internet on a daily basis.

If we have sixth graders developing apps and high school students are gaining thousands of followers on blogging websites, are we teaching the right things in school? Should students be learning how to code? Should we be integrating this technology into school systems or should we continue keeping things how they are?

 

 


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