Beware of the wikis
Although I have a hard time remembering how that felt, there was no internet when I was a student (I graduated in 98). Of course the web existed already but it was then a geek-only thing. I can even tell you that the first 18 months that I was working, I had no e-mail and most people around me, including those in the business, hardly knew what an e-mail was.
In short, when I then needed to gather information, I used the good old method : I went to the library. I didn’t mind because I love books, but of course it was taking a lot of time and research to find what I was looking for. There was a big advantage though : I could be pretty sure that the information found was true (or at least, nobody would question information coming for the universalis encyclopediae…).
Today 8 year old kids use Google to prepare their class pojects. Students of all ages browse the web all the time for information. I am taking evening classes myself and PDF files have replaced the books. And all adults around me use internet whenever they have a question.
It’s fast, it’s easy, it opens our mind to the whole world within seconds.
But is it nearly as accurate as the good old books?
I love that we can share knowledge easily this way. I love Wikipedia and have written a few contributions myself. But the truth is: you do not know who puts information on Wikis or on the web in general. Is the author an expert? Is he well documented? Did someone proof-read his article before he posted?
In a world where information is available everywhere within seconds, the new challenge for us and for our children is to learn how to be selective and check the veracity of the information found. And this, at the end, could take more time than looking for accurate information the good old way…