In trying to layout arguments for educators about why Wikipedia is exceedingly important, I often have to hold my breathe when it comes to the policies and dynamics that really get my goat. I try to avoid my own Wikipedia entry because it makes me want to pull my hair out. It’s been made very clear to me that I’m not allowed to be an expert on myself, but oh do I get annoyed when people use that as my bio (my bio is here). My favorite line from my discussion page:
Personally, I’m inclined to take anything from Boyd’s website with a grain of salt, as Boyd’s area of research is social networking, and for all we know this is some grand experiment on how the rules can be pushed.
Throughout the discussion, there’s ongoing references to the ways in which mass media are credible and authoritative. In the last month, I’ve been cited in the press as being a student at both UCLA and CalTech. I’d like to state for the record that, while I respect both of those institutions, I’ve never been associated with either (although I’ve attended parties at both). I’ve also been referenced as an anthropologist, a sociologist, and a professor. My apologies to academics who get annoyed at me about these labels – I know that I am none of the above, but I don’t know how to stop them from perpetuating. I’ve also been cited as working for companies I used to work at. I am not working at any company right now. (I also did not recently release a full report on a study of class dynamics in America.)
I’m trying really hard to figure out ways in which we can get youth to think critically about the construction and production of information. I believe that Wikipedia is a great source for working through and thinking about these issues, but I’m extremely worried about the ways in which Wikipedians fetishize mass media as ideal sources. Hell, I’m worried about the ways in which my own industry sees mass media as proof that the sky is falling. Media is often very useful for citations, but to assume that it is always right seems to be extremely dangerous, especially for a community that’s fighting an image issue concerning the ease with which things can be edited and published. I also think it’s dangerous for Wikipedia to perpetuate inaccuracies in mass media just cuz mass media said so.
To those Wikipedians out there who happen to read my blog – is there any conversation amongst Wikipedians about how to deal with mass media coverage? Is there any conversation about how mass media coverage is often biased or inaccurate? Why is mass media coverage so valued? (And why on earth am I notable because I’m profiled in mass media instead of because of why mass media was covering me?)