Dave Totten's personal voyage to the land of IT Fluency, and other Digital Governance issues.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Fluencey Mileston #10: Wikipedia

If there is any one thing I will take away from this course, it is probably a newfound respect for Wikipedia. It could be called nothing less than a "fluency milestone" when Piotr pulled up the entry for my parents' hometown, Talkeetna, and found a simple skelleton of a page. I suggested that it include information about the town's famous Moose Dropping Festival. A few moments later and it was there. I had influenced the content of an encyclopedia--no, I had changed the contents of an encyclopedia.

Emboldened by this, I went out on a limb and corrected a typo in another article!

Then, impressed by Wikipedia's information, I cited the corrected article in my paper. I was just looking for some basic almanac-type information, and it did jibe with my recollection of the topic, so I used it.

I'm on a roll! Do I dare to add something else about Talkeetna to the entry? I mean, just on the off chance that someone else should one day want to read it? Well, I added a little more info, just naming the other two annual festivals in the town. The article now reads:

"Home to the annual Moose Dropping Festival[1] as well as the Mountain Mother and Wilderness Woman contests."

I couldn't get the outside links to work right. I have a lot still to learn about Wiki.

I couldn't agree more with Damien: it's the convergence of blogs, wikis and podcasts (video or audio) that have the real potential to change Democracy. Jason says the borderless world doesn't look quite so silly anymore, and I have to agree totally with him. Sal and I are on the same exact page when it comes to FIT. And Joohyun exploration of the future of intellectual property rights was a view of the future that is certain to come true. Such a fascinating class!

So, here's my final offer, for anyone who bothers to read the flog after you are being graded on them: What is the best way to advance Dr. Snyder's goal of IT Fluency? Is it through legislative action, at the state or city level? In that case, we should form a political action network and start pushing for it. Is it active effort that makes the difference? In that case, we should form a non-profit fluency-training organization and take our show to the other side of the digital divide.

I vote for Alaska.

In the summer.

-David Totten.


Blogger Piotr Konieczny said...

To add external links, you should paste it inside square brackets [], like this [http://www.blogger.com/]. If you want the link to be something else then a number, you can add text after it like this [http://www.blogger.com/ description].

Now, as for promoting IT fluency: I think there are many ways to do this. Both government and NGO projects are useful, but the easiest thing to do is to 'spead the knowledge' youself: tell people how they can improve their work by doing this, this or that - or 'force' them to change. I went and removed shortucts to IE from all computers in our grad lab, and after talking to our IT person we plan to replace Netscape with Firefox starting next term.

On related news, you'd be amazed (or not...) to know how few ppl know what a firewall is and that they need one (and shame on Pitt for not providing one on ther basic cd - they give us Norton Antivirus, but don't bother to include even one of open source firewalls?). So I am now trying to check if every grad and faculty at my dept knows what a firewall is and if they have it at home. Sure, some don't care and think I am wasting their time - but well, some people just have to learn the hard way.

12:18 AM

Blogger Jim said...

"...just on the off chance that someone else should one day want to read it?"

Thanks for your blog entry and general discussion about IT fluency. Without belaboring the point, it always surprises me how many people actually *do* read entries which we, the contributors, think will languish unseen. For example, I do a daily Bloglines automated search on "Talkeetna" since I live here and want to see what web references pop up. That's how I found yours. As more people become "IT fluent", we can expect more people will see our entries.

I thought you might find it interesting that not only did you effect the Wikipedia entry for Talkeetna, but within hours you caused a Talkeetna resident to read not only that entry, but your blog. And when I go downtown this morning for a cup of coffee from 3 Rivers, I may end up mentioning this entry to other locals ... and so the word spreads at a grassroots level.

If that's not 'media of and by the people' I'm not sure what is!

3:02 PM

Blogger Stu said...

nice entry david...i'd be happy to take a fluency tour through AK some day...we'd better write a new grant ;)

9:24 AM

Blogger Cat said...

If you really want to cross the digital divide, you don't need to go to Alaska (nice as that would be). Just go to the poorer neighborhoods of your current town and visit their libraries. Talk to people there about the services they provide and how the people who live around there use the library and it's computers. We still have very real economic divides in our cities, and those will need to be broken down and mended before we can get past the digital divide.

10:27 PM


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