Sunday, December 31, 2006


My wife made an interesting comment the other day. She's a sociology professor, and she was reading the bibliographies at the end of her term papers when the term was ending; it was an extremely busy time, so the fact that the comment stayed with me was interesting by itself. She merely pointed out that it was ironic that students used Wikipedia as an academic reference, since it was made by everyone/anyone- it is in essence the opposite of an academic reference.

To her probably the most notable thing about it was that, having been asked to read the textbook, the students didn't bother referencing that, although it of course provided the most concise, academic perspective on the concept in question, and surely her favorite one, given that she'd required that textbook. But students don't read textbooks much these days (as she pointed out several times in the process), and more often turn to Wikipedia as if it's the gospel truth.

Interesting, because in some sense, our knowledge, all human knowledge, is really more a collective thing, what most people think, plus what a few people don't agree with, with an asterisk here and there. Wikipedia in many ways is more accurate than your average textbook, as it has far more readers and so represents more of a collective additive database. But it also contains notable gems, like the continuing assertion that ours is the best CESL. Can't argue with that. And I deny, again, that I ever put that there. I'm way too humble.



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