Wikipedia + Collective Intelligence
Due: Sunday, March 8 by 8pm
For this assignment, you will compose a short blog post that engages with our Week 7 readings and lecture on “Intelligence,” specifically Henry Jenkins’ “What Wikipedia Can Teach Us About New Media Literacies,” Parts One and Two. This post will critically address how knowledge is constructed and presented on Wikipedia, discussing the possibilities and limitations of “collective intelligence” as a concept through a close analysis of a specific Wikipedia entry.
- Step 1: Select a topic you’re knowledgeable about, and find the corresponding Wikipedia entry on that topic. This could be a sport or team, an artist/author, a historical event, a technology, a media property, etc.
- Step 2: Read the Wikipedia page closely, taking notes on how knowledge about this topic is constructed. Is any information incorrect? What kinds of citations does the article use to support the information it presents? Are there any boxed “warnings” at the top of the page regarding the article’s content? Is the information biased in any way? What are the affordances or limitations of Wikipedia’s encyclopedia format? In short, as someone who knows a good deal about the topic at hand, do you think the Wikipedia article is sufficiently detailed as a space to learn about this topic?
- Step 3: Read this page on How to Read an Article History, then click on the “View History” tab at the top right corner of the Wikipedia article you’ve selected. Explore the history of the article (look at the different versions/edits, explore the “talk” around the page topic and see what the major debates are, etc.) and click on/explore the “External Tools” at the top of the page, especially the “Revision History Statistics” and “Contributors” pages, and “Page View Statistics.”
- Step 4: Write a 350-500 word blog post about the Wikipedia article you selected, including screengrabs of the article and the history page and/or statistics pages for reference. This post MUST critically engage with the week’s readings, and should include the following:
- A brief (1-2 sentence) overview of the topic and the article.
- An analysis of who is constructing our understanding of the topic, and how (e.g. consider how many/few editors are responsible for composing the article vs. how many access it for information, what the central debates around the article have been about, etc.). Also, consider the page’s history: when was it created, when were most of the edits made, is it still being edited regularly? How does the topic itself relate to the timing and demographic make-up of the edits and editors (e.g. a page about a current event vs a classical Hollywood film). Your blog post should make a clear argument about Wikipedia as a source of collective intelligence, using your page as a test case.
- Images of the article/history page should function as evidence. Just as you might introduce and engage with a quote or concept in a scholarly essay, consider these images as both “evidence” to support your points, and texts that your post should be in conversation with. You should consider annotating the images (see the two examples below) to draw the reader’s attention to pertinent elements. Awesome Screenshot is a useful plugin for capturing and annotating images.
Remember, though this is a blog post, it’s a scholarly blog post, so make sure you’re citing correctly (endnotes and/or parenthetical citations in the body of your post with a works cited list at the bottom. You will be graded according to the blog rubric and the requirements outlined above.