It’s everyone’s favorite Pokémon, and one of my personal favorites, Squirtle. He’s a water type Pokémon, and boy is he ever so cool! Pokémon, for those that don’t know, is a game and animated series where there are extraordinary creatures which are trained by Pokémon trainers to battle (and don’t worry they never die, they just faint). In order to be the best in this world, like no one ever was, to train them must be your cause. Sadly, this world is pure fantasy and is unreachable. However, it does have a Wikipedia page for this special creature, and that is what really matters. On this page, Squirtle is detailed in depth and his origins and appearances in the games and shows is discussed at some length. This article shows many people’s opinion on Squirtle on Wikipedia, and is a perfect example of what Jenkins calls ‘collective intelligence’ – basically people sharing “knowledge and [comparing] notes with others towards a common goal” (Jenkins). Many things can be discussed about this article, its editors and contributors and how often they edit, proving the beneficial side to ‘collective intelligence’, while ‘systemic bias’ shows the limitations of ‘collective intelligence’.
This article was created in 2003, as documented by the Wikipedia page, and it has undergone the most intense editing in 2006 and 2007. After these years, the editing went down substantially and was nearly non-existent for two years, and then held a mild resurgence of edits in the past recent years.
Since this is a pop culture item on Wikipedia, most people who edit this page are unlikely to have serious credentials to back up their statements. Rather as Jenkins states, “What holds a knowledge community together is not the possession of knowledge — which can be relatively static — but the social process of acquiring knowledge — which is dynamic and participatory, continually testing and reaffirming the group’s social ties.” (Jenkins) In the Pokémon community, and in this particular case those who know Squirtle, all the knowledge comes from playing the games and watching the television show. The knowledge of Squirtle then, can be easily fact checked and contributed by other audience members who have seen Squirtle in the video games and television shows. This way, the many people who have been exposed to Pokémon media have a near equal knowledge base of information to equally contribute to the Squirtle Wikipedia page.
Henry Jenkins states “There isn’t someone out there — an editor or publisher — deciding how much space to grant a given topic, though the group may sometimes prune entries that they feel are over-inflated. Rather, someone who cares deeply about a subject takes the first crack towards writing an entry and others who share her interests may also contribute, thus often swelling its word count,” (Jenkins) which he later calls ‘systemic bias’. In this Wikipedia article about the Pokémon Squirtle, the discussion is very tame. This is likely due to the emergence of Bulbapedia in early 2005. Bulbapedia, although not a different ‘topic’ does take the attention away from the Squirtle Wikipedia page and turns it to the Bulbapedia Squirtle page, which contains a monumental amount of data regarding Squirtle. That in turn accounts for why the page is currently relatively inactive, thus doing the same thing which Jenkins describes as ‘systemic bias’.
This ‘collective intelligence’ which is displayed on Wikipedia may be viewed by some as not the best thing for society because it can lead to discrepancies such as ‘systemic bias’. However, it can also lead to a great sharing of knowledge which may not have been shared before. In the specific case of Squirtle, I have experienced this. For now I can look up certain things about it, such as when it will learn certain moves. Before Wikipedia or Bulbapedia though, I was lost to find my own way in the game, without the information widely accessible on the web. Wikipedia’s reign is not over yet, and it will be interesting to see how it will continue to influence our behaviors with media.
Jenkins, Henry. “WHAT WIKIPEDIA CAN TEACH US ABOUT THE NEW MEDIA LITERACIES (PART ONE).” Confessions of an AcaFan. Henry Jenkins, n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2015.
Jenkins, Henry. “WHAT WIKIPEDIA CAN TEACH US ABOUT THE NEW MEDIA LITERACIES (PART TWO).” Confessions of an AcaFan. Henry Jenkins, n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2015.