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Byte by Byte

Miceala ShockleeMiceala Shocklee
a graduate of Caltech, is our editorial
assistant and a monthly

Mother’s Day Messaging
(Continued from Monthly Columns)

The online encyclopedia is a wiki- an internet-based structure of which fewer people are aware. A wiki is, to quote Wikipedia itself, “a website that provides collaborative modification of its content and structure directly from the web browser.” Or, to be cliché, a wiki is a website “made by the people, for the people.” The point of a wiki is to provide a place for online community contribution and collation. A computer, an internet connection, and a minor bit of HTML skill, and a user is in.

Wikipedia strives to catalogue encyclopedic knowledge. Wikis are made with goals ranging from trashwiki.org’s aim to provide the “world guide to dumpster diving” through providing information on local food sharing programs and where to find commercial trash bins with good pickings, to wikia.org, a major cross-genre hub for all things fandom and fanfic.

Of note, however, is that while a wiki can often be an excellent source of precise content, it is also a highly malleable, unreliable thing. Not every wiki editor is correct, or even benevolent, and it’s uncommon for a wiki to have a moderator managing anything but the worst of edit wars and technical glitches – and sometimes even those remain unattended.

Where to go, then, when your content consumption needs not just an amateur, but an expert? The answer to that question is as broad as the possible queries behind it, but Google Scholar (www.scholar.google.com), Web of Science (www.webofknowledge.com), and Jstor (www.jstor.org) are good places to start. Local library websites also usually offer links to databases that the public can search for free.



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