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Wikipedia – Free and Reliable?: Aspects of a Collaboratively Shaped Encyclopaedia
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Department of Communications Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2008 (English)In: Nordicom Review, ISSN 1403-1108, E-ISSN 2001-5119, Vol. 30, no 1, 155-172 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Wikipedia is a multilingual, Internet-based, free, wiki-encyclopaedia, created by its own users.

The aim of this article is to let the users’ descriptions of their impressions and experiences of Wikipedia increase the understanding for the function and dynamics of this collaboratively shaped wiki-encyclopaedia.

Qualitative, structured interviews via e-mail, concerning users, and the creation and use of Wikipedia, were carried out with six male respondents – administrators at the Swedish Wikipedia – during September and October, 2006.

The results focus on the following themes: I. Passive and active users; II. Formal and informal tasks; III. Common and personal visions; IV. Working together; V. The origins and creation of articles; VI. Contents and quality; VII. Decisions and interventions; and, VIII. Encyclopaedic ambitions.

The discussion deals with the approach of this encyclopaedic phenomenon, focusing upon its “unfinishedness”, the development in different directions, and the social regulation implied and involved. Wikipedia is a product of our time, having a powerful vision and engagement, and it should therefore be interpreted and considered on its own terms.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 30, no 1, 155-172 p.
Keyword [en]
Wikipedia, encyclopaedia, wiki, cooperation, collaboration, social regulation
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13070OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-13070DiVA: diva2:17773
Available from: 2008-03-20 Created: 2008-03-20 Last updated: 2017-12-13
In thesis
1. De länkade orden: Den digitala arenans dynamik
Open this publication in new window or tab >>De länkade orden: Den digitala arenans dynamik
2008 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
The linked words : The dynamics of a digital arena
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this thesis is to explore freedom of speech and aspects of credibility related to the Internet. The phenomenon freedom of speech is seen and examined principally from a communicative perspective. Theoretically the thesis is based on three key concepts: Internet, freedom of speech, and credibility. Four studies are included; each of them focuses on the main problem from different angles using different methods.

In the first study, two websites on the Internet, both having reference to the Holocaust, are examined. The aim is to identify some kind of hypertextual dialogue between Living history [Levande historia], representing a serious project about human respect and democracy, and True history [Sann historia], a plagiator expressing a revisionist opinion. The second study examines a media debate about freedom of speech and censorship related to the Internet found in newspaper articles published during 1997-1999, to see which issues these newspapers emphasise, and how the role of the Internet is described. The third study focuses on how university students writing essays assess the credibility of scientific information in web-based environments. In a questionnaire, the students estimate the importance they attach to 24 different elements. The fourth study seeks to increase the understanding of the function and dynamics of Wikipedia as a collaboratively shaped wiki-encyclopaedia. In e-mail interviews, active users are asked about their impressions and experiences.

Based on the studies, some reflections on what could be considered as special with the freedom of speech on the Internet are presented. These reflections, in terms of seven aspects, are referred to as the hypertext structure, the collage effect, boundless identities, shift in responsibility, parallel worlds and hyper reality, the compensating effect, and the leaching effect. A concept, denominated the hypertextual dialogue, has emerged during the work on this thesis. This concept has a technical, an intertextual and a discursive level.

The discussion deals with the news media’s approach towards the Internet, what their possible agenda could be, and the impact they have on people. Internet’s pluralism and its consequences are discussed. Wikipedia could serve as a model by showing how committed individuals interact to create a competitive product. When users interact with and within the hypertextual structure, the construction of meaning, as well as the responsibility for the consequences, would move from the texts’ original authors to the users. Perhaps the Internet requires the involvement of some kind of homo navigare who is able to function within, outside and between digital arenas.

Abstract [sv]

Avhandlingens övergripande syfte är att utforska yttrandefrihet och trovärdighet relaterat till Internet. Fenomenet yttrandefrihet betraktas och studeras ur ett kommunikativt perspektiv där Internet utgör arenan för kommunikationen som är möjliggjord av den digitala tekniken. Teoretiskt baseras avhandlingen på tre begrepp: Internet, yttrandefrihet och trovärdighet. Fyra studier ingår, var en har sitt specifika närmande och sin metod.

Den första studien berör två webbplatser på Internet, båda går att hänföra till Förintelsen. Syftet är att identifiera en slags hypertextuell dialog mellan Levande historia, som är ett seröst projekt om demokrati och medmänsklighet, och Sann historia, som uttrycker ett revisionistiskt synsätt. Den andra studien undersöker en mediedebatt, förd i dagstidningsartiklar 1997-1999, relaterad till yttrandefrihet och censur på Internet. Avsikten är att urskilja de beskrivningar av innehållet på Internet som tidningarna lyfter fram samt att se hur Internets roll berörs. Den tredje studien undersöker uppsatsskrivande studenters bedömning av trovärdighet vid sökandet efter vetenskaplig information i webbaserade miljöer. En enkät där studenterna skattar 24 olika element har använts. Den fjärde studien avser att utifrån intervjuer med Wikipedias användare öka förståelsen för Wikipedias funktion och dynamik som wiki-uppslagsverk.

I studierna framskymtar, på ett mer övergripande plan, aspekter av Internet som arena vilka gör att yttrandefriheten kan ses som förhållandevis speciell. Dessa aspekter diskuteras i termer av hypertextstruktur, collageeffekt, gränslösa identiteter, ansvarsförskjutning, parallellvärld och hyperrealitet, utjämnande effekt, samt urlakningseffekt. Ett egenkonstruerat koncept presenteras i den hypertextuella dialogen.

Diskussionen tar upp nyhetsmediernas förhållningssätt till Internet, vad som kan tillskrivas den bakomliggande agendan, samt mediernas påverkan på människor. Dessutom berörs Internets pluralism och hur den kan inverka på sättet att se på ”sanning”. Wikipedia framhålls som en förebild genom att visa på hur engagerade användare tillsammans kan skapa en konkurrenskraftig produkt. På Internet sker interaktionen inom och med den hypertextuella strukturen vilket påverkar meningsskapandet och förskjuter ansvaret från texternas ursprungliga skapare till användarna. Möjligtvis behövs någon slags homo navigare som kan fungera inom, utom och emellan digitala arenor.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2008. 68 + studies 1-4 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 425
Keyword
Communication, Internet, freedom of speech, credibility, hypertext, wiki, dialogue, Kommunikation, Internet, yttrandefrihet, trovärdighet, hypertext, wiki, dialog
National Category
Other Computer and Information Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-11374 (URN)978-91-7393-954-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2008-04-04, Vistasalen, Högskolan för lärande och kommunikation, Jönköping, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2008-03-20 Created: 2008-03-20 Last updated: 2014-09-22Bibliographically approved

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