Monday, May 21, 2007

Do Wiki's Work?


From Wikipedia:

A wiki is a website that allows visitors to add, remove, and edit content. A collaborative technology for organizing information on Web sites, the first wiki (WikiWikiWeb) was developed by Ward Cunningham in the mid-1990s. Wikis allow for linking among any number of pages. This ease of interaction and operation makes a wiki an effective tool for mass collaborative authoring. Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, is one of the best known wikis.


Open-source wikis (such as Wikipedia) have been criticized for their reliability: certain individuals may maliciously introduce false or misleading content. Proponents rely on their community of users who can catch malicious content and correct it. Wikis in general make a basic assumption of the goodness of people.


Like All Things On The Internet...
...reliability of content should always be questioned.

One of the things I love about Wikipedia, is that it contains a great first place to start when researching information. More and more, when I Google the definition for something, the Wikipedia definition is one of the first items in the search results. It has always been very reliable for the kinds of definitions for which I search.

I've sometimes considered adding to this great communal piece of knowledge.

For instance, look up "kitchener stitch" on wikipedia. You'll note that it brings you to a section on "Grafting (knitting)." While it includes the words "Kitchener Stitch", it provides no link to a place where it describes how to actually do Kitchener grafting. I can't imagine it would be very difficult to add a new section to the Wikipedia on directions for Kitchener stitch, and then changing the current grafting option to link to it.

Like all things that rely on the basic goodness of others, I often wonder how long before the assumption of goodness is disproven, and the resource becomes useless.

Current Knitting
I finished up the second sleeve of the bulky pullover, sewed up the seams, bought a perfect button, and finished up one of my favorite designs I've done for a while.



The button, I bought at Twist. Again, she had exactly what I wanted. Here's a closeup of the collar and the button.



The button is made of ceramic, and it has a lovely mother-of-pearl-like glaze. It's made by "Annabelle Lee Art Creations," in Hamilton, Georgia, and while the picture doesn't show it off very well, it is more like a piece of jewelery than it is a button. Exactly the effect I was going for.

I will now get back to work on the colorblock cardigan, and sew that garment up.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my spinning of Mel's alpaca roving, Marilyn writes, "I think spinning alpaca is my new favorite. Used to be silk but it's a tough choice. Have you done a wpi on yours?"

I need to confess something here. I'm not sure how to do a "wraps per inch" measurement on my yarn. I even have this clever little needle case, with an inch-long indentation that helpl me with this measurement.



If it's a very lofty yarn (like this alpaca is), do you squeeze it together, or do you just leave it lofty? The difference on this yarn is about 22 WPI versus about 9 WPI. Suffice it to say that I will need to swatch this yarn before I decide on how to use it.

38 comments:

Teej said...

Hi. *waves* I found you through someone else some time ago and have been lurking for a bit. Your knitting and spinning is beautiful!

Your comment/question on Wikipedia & kitchener might be "answered" by WikiHow (not one of the Wikimedia's projects, but a similar one). There's not an entry in WikiHow about kitchener, and there appear to be only scattered entries about knitting at all, though it might be a good place for it.

There's also Wikiversity (which is one of Wikimedia's projects), but the entry for knitting is so far blank and there's also no kitchener entry.

And I'm really glad to hear that even experienced spinners don't all just intuitively know how to do the WPI thing. I'm still a pretty new spinner and I've wondered if you're s'posed to squish the wraps together, too.

Eldronius said...

Great job on that sweater. It has really turned out to be a nice looking garment (not that at one point I thought it did not look nice, haha.) Nice choice on the button as well. And I like the way the various colors subltly dance around.

On the Wiki: I think it is funny kids in schools are trying to use this stuff as references in research projects, and that they have to be specifically told by the teachers it is not a valid source. It is a good starting point to guide you to official sources.

Jen said...

I find myself using Wikipedia frequently, but I try to verify the information by coming up with other search results about the same subjects.

Have you checked out the Knit Wiki? It's collecting how-tos and vintage, copyright-free patterns. "http://www.knitting-and.com/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page"
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FiberQat said...

The sweater is beautiful. Did you know Mar tagged you?

JoVE said...

Sara Bradberry at Knitting-and.com has started a specifically knitting wiki. Although I haven't looked, I would be surprised if there wasn't an entry showing you exactly how to do kitchener stitch. Maybe that sort of more specific wiki has advantages of general resources like wikipedia. Not sure, just putting that possibility out there.

that sweater is gorgeous. And the button is perfect. I hope the recipient appreciates it.

Carol said...

Sweater is fabulous.
I am a size large, just in case you were thinking about gifting it to an appreciative reader.

I thought you were supposed to line up the plies so they were just touching but not smooshed.

And thank God I don't have to look at Falwell's ugly mug anymore.

Carol said...

Gah, not plies, strands. Whatev.

angie Cox said...

Yes that button is perfect and the sweater is lovely. Do add to Wikkipedia , Holly ( daughter) uses it a great deal as first search .It would be good to know that experts are up-dating information.

Kathy Merrick said...

Joe, you certainly managed to everything together in that fine sweater that I love.
I will treasure it always.

Relying on the basic goodness of people is a wonderful thing--for protests and trips on the subway and on line at the grocery store and the ticket booth.
When it comes to research or proving a point or writing something scholarly, it stinks.
Wikipedias are much like communism in that way.

v.j. kohout said...

Interesting looking implement, your clever little needle case, I would have never guessed it's right use.
Great sweater, Joe, and a great blog. vj

Anonymous said...

Regarding Wikipedia, I just finished a class in U.S. history in which I had to write two research papers. One of the things my professor emphasized was that we were not allowed to use Wikipedia, because of the news stories which said information had been posted that was blatantly false. I personally have surfed through it, browsing, and found entries which had been maliciously altered with false content--and one entry was actually erased with only the title and some filler content. Heck, I could post an entry on it to say that the sixteenth president of the United States was Adolf Hitler, and that statement would remain there until someone noticed it and removed it. Yes, there are monitors who are responsible for quality control, but I think that the site has grown too big for them to keep up with those few.

Fredda said...

Wow! While I loved watching the process, the actual finished sweater is gorgeous. It all works so well.

Wikipedia is an interesting social experience. Most people use it responsibly, but just imagine what the knitlist could do with it!

Seanna Lea said...

I find that the learning curve for most people on using and editing Wikis is steep enough that it wouldn't be as widely used. That would make the users and editors a highly self-selected group of more technically proficient people. We've been using a wiki for work (via pbwiki), because we try to be familiar with most technologies in the library. The people who are more familiar with HTML or editing in WordPerfect (Reveal Codes, anyone?) are the ones most comfortable with adding and editing content.

M-H said...

Great jumper Joe. The button is perfect.

As for communism, I'm not sure why a cooperative approach to research and discovery wouldn't work. In fact, that's how most research is done. I'm on an academic email list where quite a few people contribute to Wikipedia. Not all of it is created and maintained by crazy left-wingers. Mind you, I suppose that depends on where you think the left wing starts.

Mel said...

I should probably point out that Maddy's fleece is more lofty than average for an alpaca. Most alpaca has very low resistance to compression, which is what tends to make it a much drapier yarn/fabric. We have yarn that I've spun from that same roving and yarn that David's spun from some of his animals, and it looks very, very different.

Kathy Merrick said...

You know, M-H, I just don't know where you get off assuming that I was either insulting leftists or saying anything pro-right wing.

Go to the sense of humor store and by one, please, before you get shirty and presumptuous yet again.

Kathy Merrick said...

Of course, that would be "buy" one.

Carol said...

Anyone who has ever participated in a group project for a class knows exactly why communism is doomed to fail.

nancyneverswept said...

Your question about proper wrapping on a wpi tool illustrates why wpi is probably not the most accurate way to measure yarns. Using a McMorran yarn balance and determining yards per pound is a much more accurate way to measure, and ultimately describe, yarns. Grist is it!
And I, too, am happy not to be seeing Jerry's face each time I come here.

Knittingand said...

Wikipedia doesn't allow "how to" articles, which is why I started the knitting wiki at http://www.knitting-and.com/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page

When I started the knitting wiki I also really thought people would be wary about editing it because of the technology but I was wrong. Many people who have never touched a wiki before have dived in and had a go. Sure they make mistakes at first but it doesn't matter because someone always comes along and fixes the mistakes or adds the extra information needed. In fact it's working so well the website host is making me move it to a virtual private server because it uses up too many system resources...

Marilyn said...

I use Microsoft SharePoint at work--my company makes middleware for SP--and I can tell you right now that you can create a wiki with SharePoint and include tutorials, especially those such as Camtasia-created Flash movies, .avi, .wmv, whatever. So much for Wikipedia.

My honest opinion regarding knitting wikis is why? With all the books out there, in addition to resources on the internet that are known to be accurate, do we really need a forum that will end up being a free-for-all? Even controlled, a wiki is only as good as the person who runs it.

As far as I'm concerned, there's enough information about knitting out there. We really don't need knitting wikis. Pick up a g-d book and read it, for heaven's sake. Some of us had no choice 20 years ago and we managed quite nicely. And Joe, I'm swiping this topic for Open Mike Tuesday. It's too good not to keep going.

Knittingand said...

Marilyn, so far my knitting wiki has a lot of things in it that a printed book wouldn't have.

I've said it before, a wiki is just an interface for a website. If you think wikis are useless because all the info is in published books already then wouldn't you also think that all knitting websites are useless for the same reason?

Kathy Merrick said...

Gee, knittingand, can you believe humyns knitted before you arrived and invented knitting?

I, for one, would love to know what your wiki has that a (bad old boring)printed book wouldn't.

Anonymous said...

Geez, Joe, I didn't know you allowed advertising.

Knittingand said...

Kathy, I did not say books are bad and knitting wikis contain all information needed. I write knitting books for a living. If I thought they were useless I wouldn't choose that for a career.

In fact I'm on record for saying that wikis should certainly not be considered the be all and end all of knitting information. http://www.knitting-and.com/blog/001372.html

What I don't understand is why some people have so much against wikis. It's just a different type of user interface for putting text, pictures and video on a website. Just like a blog, or an HTML file or a forum. Why would it be that blogs, forums and websites are all valuable ways to present information and yet a wiki is not?

Becky in Iowa :O) said...

The sweater is beautiful as always Joe. If I ever get around to actually doing a sweater from beginning to end, I may have to use this as inspiration.

Oh, and congrats on lighting another shitstorm. heh

Kathy Merrick said...

I've never heard of or seen any of your books, knittingand.
So I didn't know you had written any.
You DID say your "knitting wiki" contained many things books don't.
I simply asked what they might be.
You haven't answered.
Since all of your references are nothing but self-referential I don't think I'll count on your opinion of wikis.
My, you do loom large in your own mythology, though.

Knittingand said...

My own mythology? I reference "my knitting wiki" because it's just one of many and it was the particular one I was talking about.

I have no interest in answering your question because you come across as juvenile and combative and I am not interested in your opinion.

Corbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Corbie said...

Kathy needs to lighten up.

Knittingand, I just joined the knitting wiki -- I've been a fan of your website for a long time, and am glad you've started this project. Good for you for providing information that's hard to find elsewhere.

I have taught more than a few coworkers and friends to knit (no, I'm not "recruiting", they asked me) and have taught a few knitting classes, and find that websites like http://www.knittinghelp.com/ are invaluable for helping beginners -- I can show them how to do a long-tail cast-on, but if they can then go home and look up the technique in a central repository, they're more likely to retain the information. They're also more likely to continue knitting and therefore to buy more knitting books down the road.

The book / wiki equation isn't a zero-sum game, any more than printed encyclopedias detracted from book sales. Quite the opposite, IMO -- I can look up an article on Wikipedia on, say, natural dyes, but if I really want to know more about the subject I'll look at the recommended books and go buy one (or check it out from the library).

Carol said...

Well, the difference that I personally see with wikis vs. books is that a wiki draws from the anonymous masses. There's no way to screen the reliability of the information based on the author. And anyone can put anything up there w/o any fact-checking, at least until someone else notices it and takes it down. Books or blogs or traditional websites have the advantage of one specific (or a few specific) authors, so I can decide if I really want to take their advice on something. And (at least in theory) they have been through an editing process for content, which hopefully provides some additional layers of protection against inaccuracy.

I see a wiki as more of a glorified chat room: you can search message boards to find similar information, i.e. the opinions of the participants, the wiki just seems to present it in a more condensed manner.

And I would, in a totally mature and pacifist manner, be curious to know what could be in a wiki that isn't available elsewhere.

Debra said...

I was at an interesting panel discussion Sunday that was in part on the value of wikis. Speakers included Andrew Keen and Robert Scoble, and two journalists, one who works only in print and one who has moved to digital social media.

After a long, winding discussion the most valuable conclusion was that new social media (such as wikis) are not bad. They are self-correcting over time and are a valuable resource to use. They will become more useful as time goes by.

However, using them is the same as using older media: the information is still only as good as the contributors. There are good and valuable writers on every topic; and there are those whose work you would dismiss out of hand.

Develop a great crap-detector and teach it to your kids. New media or old, we always need to use it.

conclusion: wikis not bad; encyclopedias not bad. The two are just different.

Anonymous said...

"digital social media"--WTF????

M-H said...

Geez, anonynous, you don't know what digital social media means? You're using it right now. It means connecting to other people on the interenet. Three little words, none of which is complex, which add up to places in cyberspace where you interact with other. It means we create our own ways of communciating, rather than have a central source of information and entertainment, like a TV station. Surely it's not that hard to work out.

M-H said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I didn't mean I didn't understand "digital social media" (which, by the way, is plural, not singular). I meant it's a stupid awkward phrase.

angie Cox said...

At the end of all this I would agree that books beat the net anytime .Sadly libraries are replacing books with computers en masse . Facts found on Wikipedia are cross checked on any site available. We know that a lot of incorrect information can be found . Sadly I wish I could buy , even find a book on every subject we might want a few facts about .

M-H said...

WTF usually means you don't know wtf a phrase means. It's a common enough expression among social commentators. I'm sorry you think it's stupid and awkward and I apologise if I seemed patronising.