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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"I am a Wikipedia-Brain Surgeon!"

"Whom do you trust, a brain surgeon who learned it from Wikipedia, or one who learned from a medical school?" asks Sharman Lichtenstein, Associate Professor of Information Systems at Deakin University.

Well, I didn't know that Australia has self-taught brain surgeons! That's indeed great great news for me! (No pun intended, I love Aussies!).

This is the worst and out of scope comparison one can give. I doubt how she is able to hold on the post of an Associate Professor! Wikipedia tells me that Deakin is a good university (being named after Alfred Deakin, the second Prime Minister).

Wikipedia is for knowledge sharing. It's information tranfer. Wikipedia dwells on the principle that information should be free. It's a platform for transfer of knowledge from one who knows it to one who doesn't.

So, take the case of a brain surgeon. According to me (and I believe, most of you), surgery is a skill that has to be acquired by learning and practicing. So, if I guy out there wants to know what is Brain Surgery so that he can understand whether his insurance will cover it, should he enroll himself in John Hopkins and toil for five years? This is where Wikipedia comes into play. Well, he can get it from Britannica, but he has to pay for it. Wikipedia makes it available to him for free.

(BTW, there is no page for Brain Surgery in Wikipedia. This is a regular example quoted by Wikipedia haters!)

The only thing that Ms. Sharman points out which is sane is that Wikipedia should not be considered for citations. Who does it?! As far as I know, none of the colleges in India allows it.

Wikipedia is a tool to sow the seed of knowledge. Maybe a kid who reads about Brain & Neurons today in Wikipedia will be ignited to take it up as his career. And then he can tell Ms. Sharman, "Wikipedia made me a Brain Surgeon!"

Read the original post by Sharman Lichtenstein at Wikipedia breeds 'unwitting trust'. Also, check what Techdirt has to say about it.

(Cover for album Brain Salad Surgery by Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Courtesy - Wikipedia)

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