Often I have reference questions that are about current technology, and when I ask in IM reference chat for information on that top my university normally sends me to a wikipedia page and that’s it.
Wikipedia is not the only wiki out there. In fact wiki’s are easy to create, ALA has several: http://teentechweek.wikispaces.com/ http://wikis.ala.org/iwa/index.php/Main_Page http://wikis.ala.org/midwinter2007/index.php/Main_Page
You see a wiki allows participants to share information and add to what previous people have said. If for example we had this discussion group as a wiki instead of a listserv people could add titles to lists requested, discuss issues on the discussion pages, and be able to find the information easier than locating the subject of a specific thread. Wikis can contain more information that a normal website as well, because more people can work on it. Imagine if instead of a vertical file in a room, your library set up a local history wiki on pbwiki. Community members could upload pictures to share, The older citizens could work with the teens to share what they know about the community. It would be a way for the whole community to participate in their story.
Expand that concept to a community on the Internet for example web comics. There are a few websites about the different comics: http://www.thewebcomiclist.com/ is considered the best. They are updated by the webmasers who depending on the community could be overworked and understaffed, or could pull in “expert” fans. Another site about webcomics is http://www.comixpedia.org/index.php/Main_Page. Its a wiki started by a site that focused on webcomic news. This allows fans, the creators themselves, and others to upload information. The job of the webmaster changes, because now they fill in the blanks of what people started, and delete the necessary spam, but more information is able to be shared through this venue.
Did you know that the number of attacks on wikipedia increase whenever their is an article about how easy it is to place false information. In a way we all know that even the information in our encyclopedias and books can be wrong due to date, or inaccuracies by the author. Generally that is what we examine when reviewing books, so it is understandable that librarians would be leery of wiki’s but I believe that they have a valuable purpose and place in our information rich lives. One great use is understanding pop culture and technology, but also it adds to the feeling that the teens are valued experts on something when they can post a message about a show, game, or other thing they know about from reading books and from experience.
In my mind I treat Wiki’s like encyclopedias. We can have encyclopedias of reviews, conference information, best practices, anime, webcomics, video games, and more, but you have to take the first step of faith to see what a wiki really can do well. which is enrich communities