Rob, did you mean for this to go to the list rather than privately to
me? I'll answer on-list in case it's of broader interest.
If you Google search for "shark cartilage", "laetrile therapy" or
"copper bracelet" you can see the nutters and profiteers already have
their own web sites, which of course you and I are unable to edit.
For that reason I'm very glad that there's a site which is prominent
in search results which has policies on neutrality and reliable
sourcing, and on which there are people watching the pages, undoing
damage and banning persistent vandals or spammers. If I see misleading
info on cancercures4u.org, I can't correct it then and there, but if I
see it on Wikipedia, I can.
That said, there aren't as many people watching and contributing to
Wikipedia articles as there ideally should be to prevent this kind of
harm. This is why I'm enthusiastic about Cancer Research UK getting
involved in editing cancer articles, this McMaster initiative, or the
meeting yesterday at the Wellcome Institute which talked about using
Wikipedia for public engagement. There are also projects to
automatically sync information in Wikipedia (about proteins or about
genes, for example) with external databases.
Clearly we all only have a limited amount of time, but academics and
support staff put a lot of time and effort into publications or sites
that are supposedly aimed at informing the general public, but are only
read by a small number of people. Maybe some of that effort could be
put into a put-it-where-people-will-look-for-it approach, for much
greater impact? The interest in Wikipedia training from funding bodies
and scholarly societies indicates many of them are starting to think
It's a general point about open, remixable content that anyone could
potentially create their own versions with false information. That's a
consequence of OERs being "free" as in "free speech"- free speech
allows people to say stupid things, or give others stupid advice. As
with any speech, readers need to consider the source.
All is well, except that wiki-stuff is keeping me *very* busy. Cheers,
On Fri, 9 Sep 2011, Rob Pearce wrote:
> Hi Martin - hope all is well No intergalatic warships detonating atom bombs in volcanos yet. But it will happen i tells ya...drivel drivel...(fade to sound of heavy medication being injected..)
> I'm not having a go at Wikipedia at all - I'm a big fan but i had a thought about the recent McMaster University
> and Wikimedia Canada initiative to for health care content creation in the
> creative commons. (McMaster University
> and Wikimedia Canada are holding workshops Oct 4th, 2011 at McMaster
> introducing both professors and students to health care content creation in the
> creative commons.)
> This has come up before when i was working on OER - what is to stop nutters/malcontents subtly or otherwise altering medical information that then leads to somebody putting there health in jepardy or pushing one procedure over another promoting one drug not another etc.? I dont quite know how to defend this argumant yet...
> anyhow hope all is going well - I ironically work in a library now which is a step back hopefully to go 2 forward informationally anyhoo.
> best wishes,
Dr Martin L Poulter ICT Manager, The Economics Network
Based at the ILRT, University of Bristol: http://www.ilrt.bris.ac.uk/
The full experience: http://infobomb.org/
Wikipedia contributor: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:MartinPoulter
Board member of Wikimedia UK: http://uk.wikimedia.org/
"Creating a world in which every single human being can freely share
in the sum of all knowledge"