Today and Wednesday we're discussing Wikis and Wikipedia.
For some background:
The New York Times recently published an article on Wikipedia's recent attempts to protect entries from "vandalism" on the site.
Many professors have told students that they cannot use or cite information that they get from Wikipedia, because it's not "trusted" information (more on that in Wednesday's class). Another article published in the New York Times discusses the History Department at Middleburgh College and it decision to ban student's use of Wikipedia as a reference in their papers.
A few years ago, there was a widely-publicized controversy about Wikipedia's entry on John Seigenthaler, Sr., in which it was incorrectly asserted that he was involved in President John F. Kennedy's assassination.
Wikipedia continues to be a controversial but heavily used source for information. In class, we'll tuck into these issues and examine the benefits and problems with collaborative writing and with knowledge management in a Web 2.0 world.
For those following our class blog, students are posting another essay today. This one is a bit strange, in that it's more of an informative essay than a persuasive one. Their task in this essay was to begin searching a particular We 2.0 tool of their choosing, and to describe that search process in detail, and then to evaluate the quality of the information they found. The purpose of the assignment was to get students thinking consciously about their search strategies and their evaluation strategies. We'll see if it worked!
For Wednesday's class, we are digging into the issue of violations of privacy with search engines.
Here are two articles from the computer magazine PC World that might be of interest:
One article highlights the recent controversy involving Google, YouTube, and Viacom. Google, which owns You Tube, was ordered by a judge to release You Tube user and viewing information to Viacom. The article explores the question of why Google is maintaining as much personal information about users and viewing habits on You Tube as it is.
Another article describes the controversy when AOL released several million search queries to academics to help them study search patterns. The search data was leaked, however, and soon it became clear that AOL had not purged personal information about users from the search queries. This led to a lawsuit, and again raises the question of why AOL is keeping user profiles with search information.
Finally, if you have privacy concerns, Business Week has some suggestions on how to protect yourself.