Wikipedia Is Going Dark Tonight, Does It Matter?

As I drove into work today, I was surprised to hear two of the main stories beyond the upcoming presidential election were both on Social Media.  One was a brief interview from an Egyptian Author, Wael Ghonim, who just published the book “Revolution 2.0” on the power for crowds, crowd sourcing, and social media to drive change.  The other was regarding Wikipedia.  In an act of civil disobedience, Wikipedia is going off-line for 24 hours tonight to protest some pending anti-piracy legislation in Congress.  At midnight tonight, the English language of their site will be replace by a single page urging their readers to call Congress to protest the move.  There’s a common theme to both of these stories that’s worth noting, Social Media and the Internet, can attempt, and sometimes successfully so, to drive change.  Beyond that key theme, I was left wondering what affect Wikipedia’s move will have.

Wikipedia is amazingly ubiquitous.  Even though most schools prevent using it as a reference source, most kids still end up using it to a degree.  I find myself going to Wikipedia if I need a quick overview of an unfamiliar topic.  I take its content with a skeptical view, but I probably use it more than I’d care to admit.

My question to this audience is two-fold.  What do you think of Wikipedia?  And what about its act of Civil Disobedience?  Is it an approproate move if they feel strongly on an issue and will it be effective?

Regardless of how you may feel on this issue, there’s a lesson hear for all of us.  Content drives engagement.  In the Internet world, there’s a saying that ‘Content is king’.  That may be so, but its increasingly the Conversation that drives engagement.

 

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Author:Joe Luedtke

Joe Luedtke is the Chief Operating Officer for Liturgical Publications (LPi). Joe specializes in Social Media and Web 2.0 and is currently leading LPi’s efforts to move into the on-line world. Joe works for the world's largest and oldest social network, religion, and believes that this social network could benefit tremendously from the the proper use of Internet technologies.
  • John

    In what way does this qualify as “civil disobedience”?

  • Brad

    I think Wikipedia has gotten a “bad wrap” by a lot of educators who have often resisted change.  The Wikipedia concept and it’s efforts are truly amazing and not to be taken lightly.  They have demonstrated this incredible ability to provide vasts amounts of information that is far more accessible and timely in terms of updates than ever before possible.  Granted, no system is perfect.  But the question becomes did anyone ever really check those encyclopedias we all use to use?  How often were we actually citing very outdated information?  In any research project, the researcher should never rely on one single source anyway.

    In terms of their actions and SOPA and PIPA, they demonstrate a reality . . . those pieces of legislation are so loosely worded and backwards in terms of approach that a real government-forced shut down would be possible.  Likewise, shutdowns of Google and social networking websites would be possible.  Is that the best approach?  Do we shut down phone service for everyone because some use it for illegal activity to transact?  No, that would be ludicrous right?  Well, that is the approach that SOPA and PIPA propose regarding the internet.

    No, we should not rely so heavily on any one form of communication and gathering of information, but the reality is that the internet as it is is allowing people to connect and gather information like never before.  I firmly support punishing the the person who commits the illegal act, I do not support punishing the service they abuse to commit the act.  

  • John McGuinness

    One thought I had is that although it looks like SOPA and PIPA are bad laws, it is distressing to me that what seems to motivate action isn’t abortion, war, torture, indefinite detainment, or other injustices impacting people, but rather a threat to crack down on sharing on the internet.

    Which brought to mind another thought — should Catholic websites — dioceses and parishes, Catholic universities, etc., do something similar next week to mark the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision?  

  • http://catholicservant.com Craig Berry

    @google-684937423429d5b6eceb9161dbe101fb:disqus – that’s a brilliant idea!

  • Rose

    This is an interesting article on the topic of Wikipedia accuracy as compared with traditional encyclopedias: 
    http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2005/12/69844