I remember being in high school and trying to do a report over Rivers Cuomo. His Wikipedia page was a great source for me and so I used it for my report. My teacher did not have the same sentiment as me. She expressed ideas that are very similar to those discussed in Henry Jenkins’ article titled “What Wikipedia Teaches Us About New Media Literacies”. He analyzes the purposes of Wikipedia and with his lecture in mind, I looked at the Wikipedia page for Graceland, the album by Paul Simon. This page discusses the awards won by the album, those credited, some album background and the track listing, but is not a scholarly source or an unflawed source because of the concept of collective intelligence.
Having reviewed the information present on the Wikipedia page, I feel that the viewers are not getting the full picture of the album. The background information on the album does touch on his failure with the album Hearts and Bones and his peaked interest in the Boyoyo Boys, but does not discuss the trouble he encountered and how crazy people thought he was for wanting to go to Africa and search out their best musicians to feature on the album. Also, I feel as though the reader is limited because Wikipedia is not capable of providing information and a link to the Boyoyo Boys, which was a trigger for the entire album.
Now the question of whether or not this Wikipedia page represents the idea of collective intelligence arises. Jenkins defines collective intelligence as “the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others towards a common goal”. I analyzed the history of edits to find that 580 revisions have occurred on the page from mostly everyday users, which exemplifies collective intelligence.
In the article I found issues that have occurred on the page based on it’s ability to pool knowledge from everyday people. Things throughout the history were labeled red, which stands for a deletion. This really helps to understand why some teachers and educators may “worry that youth aren’t developing an appropriate level of skepticism about the kinds of information found on this particular site” (Jenkins). If Wikipedia has to worry about deleting certain edits, than it is good to be weary of what may be a falsity on a Wikipedia page.
This one stood out to me. This edit was deleted based on the fact that the username and profile of this editor could not be traced. Had I been reading this page before the users edit was removed, I would have been presented with potentially misleading information about the album.
Overall, Wikipedia is an educational source and a good example of the idea of collective intelligence, but it is a common space for knowledge and, due to this, needs to sometimes be taken with a grain of salt or used as a starting point for research on a topic.
“Graceland(album)”.Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 13 February 2014.
Jenkins, Henry. “WHAT WIKIPEDIA CAN TEACH US ABOUT THE NEW MEDIA LITERACIES (Part one)”. Web log post. Confessions of an AcaFan. N.p., 27 June 2007. Web. 13 February 2014.