Here we are, nearing Christmas as well as the half-way point of the Age of Exploration class. It has been a good ride with several long readings and 2 major projects under by belt I think now would be as good a time as any to reflect on some of the biggest thing I’ve learned. The first thing I have learned is that once you start, research is impossible to stop, especially if you are interested in the subject. For example, I went on the internet the other day to find out why the original Law & Order was canceled and I ended up spending a solid 45 minutes learning about things in the world of TV, from ABC to NCIS. The amazing thing is that all the things learned about were in some way connected to Law & Order from its Wikipedia page. I found a quote from Randy Pausch explaining why one should not repress the urge to find out about the wonderful world around them
“Never lose the child like wonder. It’s just too important. It’s what drives us. Help others.”
Taken from GoodReads.com
My next point is this; the internet is the world’s greatest invention. It is a wealth of information from all over the globe that is always current and can reach millions in the blink of an eye. The best thing about the internet is that it is pretty much indestructible. Once something is on the internet nothing can get it completely off. Like all inventions it can be used for both good and evil, but I believe that the internet is the best thing created by humans ever. I remember hearing a few months ago from some programmer being interviewed on TV that the internet will, in the next few years, surpass the processing power of the entire human race. (I could not find a source to back up this claim and as such please don’t take this as fact) I have however posted a link to a great site that estimates the number of pages on the internet daily.
We have come to my final point. WIKIPEDIA!!! Wikipedia is a researcher’s dream. It has Millions of articles without ads or fees, written by passionate people who know how to use language that normal people can understand. I think it also stands as a testament to how much mankind enjoys information as Wikipedia has somehow managed to stay afloat with just donations. In all its greatness, people still like to demonize Wikipedia as a one sided viewpoint and as a place with little true information. Here is a link I think some people might like, the Wikipedia page about Wikipedia. In the page many problems with Wikipedia are detailed. I think that any website that can admit its own shortcomings is all right by me.
I have also included a graphic on the intention behind edits on Wikipedia (This was a sample of 150-200 new editors)
These 3 ideas were the most important things I learned about so far this year. I am truly grateful that I have had the opportunity to take part in a class where it is ok to go off on random research tangents, learn more about the internet, and where Wikipedia is almost entirely ok to use.
Percent of new good faith and bad faith editors, 2004-2011. 2011. Chart. WikimediaWeb. 6 Dec 2011. <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Percent_of_new_good_faith_and_bad_faith_editors,_2004-2011.png>.
“Randy Pausch >Quotes.” goodreads.com. goodreads.com, n.d. Web. 6 Dec 2011. <http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/287960.Randy_Pausch>.