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SSCI 299: SocialScienceSYE

How to think like a Social Scientist: Information is constructed.

Is Wikipedia like Levitin's airplane?

Question: Is the construction of information on Wikipedia like Levitin's airplane?

In The Organized Mind, Daniel Levitin compares the construction of information in Wikipedia to the construction of an airplane built without the use of experts in aeronautical engineering.

He points out a "blatant disregard for expertise" and the ability of anyone, even "an eleven-year-old county champion of paper airplane making" to completely remove the work of experts.

Review the information on the creation of information in Wikipedia including the guidelines and information on Talk pages and History.

Consider these questions for your group presentation.

  • Do you agree with Levitin?
  • In what way is the construction of information in Wikipedia like Levitin's airplane? 
  • In what way is it different? 
  • Can you think of another analogy for the construction of information in Wikipedia?

For your group presentation be prepared to share:

  • Your specific question or problem.
  • A bit of background so that we understand the topic.
  • The major issues you discovered in trying to deconstruct the information.
  • Which sources were helpful in exploring the problem.
  • Any roadblocks or problems you encountered.
  • What information did you find beyond the links provided?
  • How did that inform your understanding?
  • What you decided as a group, or individually if you didn't agree.

Understanding Wikipedia (as told by Wikipedia)