Tuesday, August 12, 2008

John McCain Knows Wikipedia - Sort Of

WikipediaImage via Wikipedia
Really interesting story about wikipedia. When it comes to wikipedia, there are two camps of educators - those that think it's a great source of information and a great resource for students and faculty. I'm squarely in that camp, pointing to studies favorably comparing wikipedia to traditional encyclopedias, but also quickly pointing out that there are right ways and wrongs ways to use wikipedia - just like any other source. The other camp includes educators that abhor wikipeda and ban it from their classroom. There we are, back to that knee-jerk reaction to technology - not unlike banning cell phones, and ipods.

What's interesting about this wikipedia story is that the culprit is not just any run-of-the-mill student, but instead one of the two men - John McCain - vying to be leader of the free world. The claim here is that McCain - yes I know McCain wouldn't know wikipedia if he tripped over it, so let's say one of his staffers or speech writers used information from the wikipedia entry on the country Georgia to write portions of a recent McCain speech regarding the Russia-Georgia conflict. It's one thing for a student in a freshman English class to use wikipedia as a primary source; a presidential candidate - not so sure. Someone in the comments of the story questioned whether it is possible to plagiarize facts. Unfortunately, this comment assumes the veracity of the facts in the wikipedia entry - which I can't verify without more research. I'm not sure about what's really going on here, but it's fascinating to watch the intersection of politics and web 2.0.

CQ Politics | Political Insider - Did McCain Plagiarize His Speech on the Georgia Crisis?
A Wikipedia editor emailed Political Wire to point out some similarities between Sen. John McCain's speech today on the crisis in Georgia and the Wikipedia article on the country Georgia. Given the closeness of the words and sentence structure, most would consider parts of McCain's speech to be derived directly from Wikipedia.
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