Weblog by Stanley Portier focused on topics, trends and events in the field of educational technology.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
This morning there was a lot of fuzz on the news because it is assumed that Princess Mabel of Orange-Nassau and/or her husband Prince Friso of Orange Nassau have made changes to a page on Wikipedia. But isn't that the basic idea behind a Wiki? Wikipedia itself provides the following definition: "A wiki is a collaborative website which can be directly edited by anyone with access to it". The philosophy is that because so many people can edit these pages. there will be a sort of self-correction mechanism which eventually will lead to high quality pages. Research has shown that Wikipedia is able to compete with the quality level of a formally published encyclopedia like Encyclopedia Brittanica. Well back to Mabel again, the fuzz is caused because she has changed a page about herself. From a legal point of view there is no hard evidence that she did it herself. The only identification comes from an IP number that relates to the palace she lives in. But is she the only one accessing the internet from there, or are there others too? And what if she did edit the page? If her change is incorrect others will probably re-correct it again (and so it already happened). The thing that worries me in this specific example is that the Dutch royal information service (RVD) wants to make specific pages read-only. What is this?? It's fundamentally against the open source philosophy behind Wikipedia. Who decides what's the truth and what I may read or may not read? The truth according to the RVD or prime minister Balkenende? Or is it because Mabel is controversial, because of her past relationships? Large organisations such as the CIA, the Vatican and the Australian government are also known for making self-serving changes to pages on Wikipedia. Are we at the threshold of a new type of censureship here? What if I would make the change back to Mabels' version? Will I be in the news headlines tomorrow? If you don't want to have pages changed: print a book, put it in 5 layers of plastic wrap, store it in a safe deposit which is guarded next to the royal jewelry in the Tower of London.
My current job position is senior consultant e-learning at Stoas Learning in Wageningen (NL). My background is in educational psychology, with an emphasis on using ICT in education. In the past 20 years I had job positions at the University of Nijmegen (PhD research), The Dutch Open University, SPC Group, TIP Connect, ROC Midden Nederland and the University of Twente. Since 2002 I also own my private consultancy company called YASM.