Monday, August 13, 2007

Wiki Wise

Yesterday, I had a little rite of passage; I edited my first Wikipedia article. (Wikipedia is a user-written, on-line encyclopedia) After avoiding Wikipedia for years because of its unreliable start up, and at the urging of my always correct (in matters of internet) 17 year old son, I started using it in my research and finding it useful and valuable. But then came a need to look up the details of the Half-way Covenant, an obscure piece of Puritan churchmanship which laid the foundations for Unitarianism. The Wikipedia article didn't explain the situation very well, and there was a banner at the top of the page begging for source material. So I got out of my chair, got my seminary American Religious History text down, looked up what I wanted, re-wrote the Wiki, and added chapter and verse. I wasn't absolutely sure I was doing it all right, but today when I checked, my edits and source were all there. It was a bit of a thrill!

Today's UUWorld.org article comments that a web-based world might be good for liberalism in religion in the same way that the printing press was good for liberalism in it's day. When people started reading the Bible for themselves instead of just hearing sermons about it, it got them to actively thinking about what they believed and which church structures were biblical. Similarly, the information glut on the web and the user-activity of it all might get more people thinking actively about their faith. I hope he's right!

4 comments:

Kelsey Atherton said...

Wikipedia itself is a fun optimist/pessimist test - the best and worst about it is summed up by both sides with "Anyone can edit it!" I'm in favor of wikipedia, and people like you who have the information and then willingly give it to others to make the internet a more knowledgeable place are the main reason I'm trusting of it.

Also, that 17-year-old son is in that exact right generation to understand the internet, until the knowledge is outdated in a decade.

ms. kitty said...

Wow, Christine, I"m impressed!

hafidha sofia said...

An interesting study of the wikipedia content was done that showed that reliability of particular subjects (including science) was actually rated higher by the experts in those fields than they were by the average person. What this suggests is that wikipedia may be more accurate than the average user may believe it to be.

I thought that was reassuring!
More info about the Wikipedia reliability study.

mjae said...

I love this idea. I'm all about valuing the expertise of individuals within communities of ideas! Who better to refine information, as your story attests? It's a world-wide Delphi method, which has been used in the planning world for years to great success in terms of empowering communities to plan for themselves.

In slightly different other news, was thinking about your sermon on atheism from a few months back reading an article in September's Scientific American, which is very UU and makes the same underlying points you did:

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=423C1809-E7F2-99DF-384721C9252B924A&chanID=sa006