The article “Wikipedia as a Site of Knowledge Production” was written by a professor, principal researcher at Microsoft Research, and founder of the Data & Society Research Institute, Danah Boyd. In this text, Boyd reflects on the influence of Wikipedia on contemporary education. The author’s area of expertise is the topic at the intersection of education and the Internet, media, and social networks. The article’s main topic was teachers’ and students’ emotional assessment of Wikipedia as an unreliable and inaccurate source. However, students can learn by working with Wikipedia how the articles are written and edited, as it directly affects the way we develop our critical thinking skills.
In the text, Boyd examines how, under educators’ influence, students form an opinion about Wikipedia as an unreliable source of information. At the same time, students take this opinion on faith under the influence of authorities without really understanding what “technically accredited” sources mean (Boyd 833). According to Boyd, from an objective point of view, Wikipedia has no more inaccuracies or errors than the traditional encyclopedia (833). Moreover, on the site, people can see who wrote and edited the article, the history of edits, links to confirming sources, and a discussion between users about edits (Boyd 835). At the same time, controversial or propaganda information in school textbooks is perceived as indisputable facts (Boyd 836). Since Wikipedia has many authors, discussing many topics becomes more objective, multifactorial, and diverse.
Boyd concludes that the demonization of Wikipedia, rather than thoughtful, critical, and in-depth work with it, harms education and the development of information literacy. In this sense, Wikipedia represents a modern type of knowledge production since the data constantly evolves through discussion. Wikipedia users should be able to prove their position and support it with sources that develop both writer’s competencies and the final product. Thus, students and teachers should take the example of Wikipedia and try writing articles in the classroom rather than reject this format.
Boyd, Danah. “Wikipedia as a Site of Knowledge Production.” The Norton Field Guide to Writing with Readings and Handbook. 6th ed., W. W. Norton & Company, 2022, pp. 833–839.