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Submissions/Students Speak

From Wikimania 2012 • Washington, D.C., USA

This is a rejected submission for Wikimania 2012.

Submission no.


Title of the submission
Students Speak
Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)
Author of the submission
Susan Harris
E-mail address
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)
As a student of a college in Delhi University in India, these are some context-specific observations and ideas about the revolutionary potential of Wikipedia.

This paper proposes that the use of Wikipedia by students in college marks a cultural divide and a generation gap between the students and the teachers. Often this generation gap has been misconstrued and projected as the students’ over-dependency on the internet for information [or assignments or term papers] and not sufficiently seen as a collective cultural shift which makes these student users a collective engaged in new ways of collecting and disseminating information. That only students are blamed for this practice and that Wikipedia is indispensable to any student [from any field] are all important markers of this category-defying and global student’s collective. The student-teacher divide couched in terms of the teachers propounding knowledge from texts and students apparently relying on the Internet [often made synonymous with Wikipedia] are also inherently misleading and contradictory. This is because the debate is often centered not about whether Wikipedia reduced critical analysis but whether it makes things ‘too easy’ for the student. As a student ‘too easy’ often means faster and more efficient than any dilution of analysis as Wikipedia is often not the only source of information. I argue that the students’ collective is as important as the mode of information in Wikipedia. The encyclopedia-like content subverts traditional knowledge through a kind of self-generation where students themselves are contributors and users. Secondly the site is a tool box which allows for selective information-use on any particular topic depending on personal preferences or ways of thinking to affect browsing habits. I propose that this is the kind of critical analysis Wikipedia allows. Thirdly, the information depends immediate use marking the division between user pages and pages, presenting information as compact and not a discussion granting the existing pages the semblance of a finished product, like a book.

I also contrast Wikipedia with Wikihow to show how this more obviously user-driven community is a more closed community than Wikipedia because of its content and method.

WikiCulture and Community; Research, Analysis, and Education
Length of presentation/talk
15 Minutes
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Slides or further information (optional)
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