The Topic of Discussion: The Growing World of the Internet and Wikipedia
In Lev Manovich’s “How Media Became New”, readers go on a journey through history to see the developing world of technology. Manovich takes readers all the way back to the 1800’s and the invention of the Analytical Engine. One could argue that the Analytical Engine is the ancestor of the Mac Book Pro. If so, I am sure that Charles Babbage never imagined that he could be a founding father to a device that enables people young and old to overshare their lives all across the globe. Thanks to Mr. Babbage, the computers and more specifically, the internet have become household staples. I used the topic of the expansion of the internet to explore Wikipedia and its reliability.
According to Wikipedia, between 2013 and 2014 84.20% of people in the United States used the internet. My findings on Wikipedia were a little broad so I referred the Pew Center. According to the Pew Center, a survey from 2015 indicated that 89% of adults in the United States use the internet. The information from Wikipedia could be correct if one just assumes that the 84.20% of 2013-14 increased to 89% by 2015. In this case, the information presented on Wikipedia is mostly correct but the presentation of the information could be better. I mentioned that Wikipedia reported its findings in 2013-2014 because the introduction reads “Below is a sortable list of countries by number of Internet users as of 2013” but the graphs on the same page do not correspond. The first two graphs indicated information for 2014. The third graph did not have a date and it did not specify that it was an extension of the first two graphs.
I prefer direct findings that I do not have to make assumptions for. The Pew Center’s graph was much clearer because one date was given for the entire article and the graph was clearly labeled.
In What Wikipedia Can Teach Us About the New Media Literacies Part One, Jenkins states that although educators worry their students are not getting the correct information from Wikipedia because anyone is free to contribute information to the site, Wikipedia should not be counted as an unreliable source.
“Many educators express concern about young people’s increased reliance on Wikipedia as a resource for their homework assignments and research projects. These teachers worry that youth aren’t developing an appropriate level of skepticism about the kinds of information found on this particular site…Our documentary project, and this article, reflects our assumption that these vital debates need to be shaped by a clearer picture of the Wikipedia movement” (Jenkins).
My research proves that Jenkins is correct. Though Wikipedia may not always have the best format or presentation of information, educators should not fully ban the source from their student’s research. When I was in high school, the school librarian told my class that Wikipedia is just one piece of the puzzle of online research. It is the first step to completing the puzzle.
Based on information from Wikipedia and the Pew Center, it is fairly safe to say that computers and the internet are no longer uncommon. For example, in the documentary Frontline: Digital Nation, children and adolescents in South Korea were sent to camps recovery camps for internet addicts. The internet is a growing force. Wikipedia, a small step in the grand stair case of the world wide web and for research purposes, I believe that it is a great way for people to collaborate, contribute, and discover but perhaps it would be best for students to make sure that it is not the only source on their works cited pages.