Me talking about Wikipedia again

One of the things that the 2.0 crowd needs to remember, myself included, is that by writing about all this neat stuff on our blogs we’re still just talking to an elite sliver of already-savvy people. I like to get my 2.0 talking appearing in print as much as possible, that seems to really have an effect on a whole new group of people.

When my 80+ year old neighbor called me today to say that she saw me in the newspaper talking about Wikipedia, I’m pretty sure it was the first time she’d ever said the word out loud. The article is pretty lousy to read online (I’m not sure what happend to the paragraph breaks) but I’m going to go walk down to the corner store and get a copy. Here are some of the pull quotes I’m happy with, in case you don’t want to slog through it.

Another prolific Vermont Wikipedian is Jessamyn West, 38, who works in the library at the Randolph Technical Career Center. She transformed from a Wikipedia user to a contributor two years ago, after visiting the Old Stone House Museum in Brownington. “I went to Wikipedia, and saw that their entry for Brownington didn’t include this massive stone building. I thought, I should find the information and put it on there so other people can find it and learn about it,” she explains. Since then, she says, as she scrolls through a long list of her contributions, she’s made “a couple thousand edits.”

Her mission last winter was to figure out which Vermont towns had official town Web pages, and making all those links available. Today, thanks to her efforts, visitors to Wikipedia entries on Clarendon, Bethel and dozens of other Vermont towns can link directly to the town’s Web site. West points out that because of the way search engines work, many Vermont towns may be difficult to find online. “Wikipedia understands how to structure information so it makes sense to computers as well as humans,” she explains. “By linking the town’s Web site in Wikipedia, that will make them more findable on Google.” With a degree in library science and membership in the American Library Association Council [sic], she has also contributed to entries about libraries. She’s a fan of a parody TV show called Reno 911, and watches that page, too, as well as the entry for a band she likes. Every page West edits she adds to her watch list; 10 to 15 Vermont towns get revised each day, she says. She removes any vandalism she sees. “I see a lot of kids edit Wikipedia, add their names and friends’ names to it,” she said. “It’s why I have a watch list.” The next project she’s considering: going back to the Vermont town entries and adding links to public libraries….

Jessamyn West’s view: “In library circles, sometimes, there are people who complain: ‘I found something wrong on Wikipedia.’ I wonder, ‘Did you change it?’ We are all responsible (on Wikipedia). That’s an unusual way to feel about a Web site. You are responsible if you see a mistake. Everyone should be responsible for making Wikipedia better.”

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