Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wiki temperatures

In the Chronicle of Higher Education Jeffrey Young reports about a 'frozen' Wikipedia being more academically useful for students than the current version, which can be – and is – edited all the time, sometimes resulting in a lot of heat. There is something tremendously attractive in having unfettered editing possibilities, but also in having stable, authoritative articles in such an extremely useful web resource as the Wikipedia. In an academic environment, one would ideally have both. WikiProfessional, which is specifically conceived for the academic and professional environment, actually gives both. On the one hand it presents stable, vetted and authoritative knowledge, yet on the other hand it gives the utterly useful and necessary option for knowledge to be supplemented and annotated in real time by anyone wishing to do so. Both the authoritative version, and community annotations and additions, are presented side-by-side. Only when annotations and additions are deemed acceptable by the professional or academic community in question – peer-reviewed in one way or another – are they elevated to the level of 'received knowledge'.

For open access WikiProfessional presents a nice additional opportunity: 'annotations' can be links to particularly appropriate and relevant articles. And if such links were made to freely available versions of the articles in question, this would give WikiProfessional some of the functionality of a federated repository, not just enhancing an article's exposure and findability, but at the same time putting it in the right context in the Concept Web. This, in turn, may well further increase the chances of such an article to be cited.

Jan Velterop

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