Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Journalists can benifit from Social Software

Andrew Lih, the director of technology at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong argues that the web has become an essential tool for journalists.

The challenge for journalists is often determining the accuracy and sourcing of search results, oftentimes negating the time saved by using the Internet. However, (...) participatory journalism has provided a unique solution to this problem — it engages the news audience to participate in the process of rationalizing Web content, crafting the news, and contributing knowledge into the "media ecology."

More specifically, Lih argues that it is wiki technology that has produced the largest form of participatory journalism to date — Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an Internet-based, volunteer-contributed encyclopedia, with thousands of international contributors and is the largest example of an open content wiki.

So far, the effort has created numerous reference-quality articles. News publications have increasingly cited Wikipedia on subjects.

Wikis are just starting to receive recognition for generating credible collaborative content. Perhaps the toughest part of Wikipedia's future is how to manage its own success. While Wikipedia has recorded impressive accomplishments in three years, its articles have a mixed degree of quality because they are, by design, always in flux, and always editable. That reason alone makes people wary of its content. But first time visitors are typically impressed with what the community has developed, considering the decentralized nature of the effort and the usefulness of its content.

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