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Friday, June 4, 2021

Wikipedia and the Research Involved in Storytelling

The Wikipedia logo

I sometimes wish I'd realized my blog's email address would omit the plus and equals signs from its title.  I often claim I'm "mathematically impaired", yet the simple bit of mathematical signage should have been reasonable.  The problem is digital thinking is slightly different.

I take seriously the need for research in my storytelling, whether it's knowing something about the ethnic group or country where a story originated or the facts behind my historical reenactments.  At times I've wondered how much research to post online, but figure giving the reader a chance to choose their own level of how far they want to pursue it is best.

Again and again, the first information link winds up being  This sometimes feels lazy.  PC Magazine on June 3 published an article, "Wikipedia: The Most Reliable Source on the Internet?" looking at not only its reliability, but also that it's not a "primary source."  It used the work of Professor Amy Bruckman from the Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Interactive Computing.  She has researched Wikipedia extensively and in her 2022 Cambridge University Press book Should You Believe Wikipedia? examines this very issue.  Ahead of her future keynote speech at IntelliSys 2021, PC Magazine interviewed her.  The surprising conclusion was that even on controversial topics, Wikipedia works better than the rest of the internet.  This is due to its mass peer review and openness to correction when a statement is insufficiently proven or can be shown to be incorrect.

PC Magazine offers comment space on its articles.  Nobody had yet replied when the librarian and storyteller in me wrote: 

This is a relief to read. I do a weekly blog that includes research related to stories and storytelling. Again & again I find Wikipedia is at least the first, but often the best link to give. The resources beyond the article are shown. It's illustrated with graphics safe to use. Annually I contribute to it, the Internet Archive, and Project Gutenberg and suggest my readers do the same. It used to be that print encyclopedias were a starting point (even when teachers wouldn't let them count in a bibliography) as it pointed to other sources. Wikipedia does this and more. For anyone checking it, it can be a quick look or a means to go further.

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