A little more than halfway through Clay Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody.” The book has been very interesting up to this point, and anyone wishes to learn and understand more about the internet and social media should definitely check it out.

Just learned how Wikipedia came about. It was a drawn out process that culminated into the website that everyone knows. The development was fascinating as the original concept was to take experts in various fields to build an internet accessible encyclopedia. It would have a similar setup to the current incarnation, in that it wouldn’t pay these experts, but simply request their knowledge. Turns out experts don’t care to put their expertise to work on these pro-bono cases as often as the creators hoped.

So the creators took a different approach. They actually learned the wiki method from another person, but they managed to take it to a new level in a new direction. Open up the editing capabilities to the entire world. Anyone interested would be allowed to add, remove, and edit the articles. Know a little then add a little. Know a lot then add a lot. Crazy to think that the community at large could come together to produce such a network of ideas, let alone collectively build upon one another’s thoughts.

By now, most if not all, have experienced Wikipedia. The one component that draws my attention most is reinforced by its setup in the belief that anyone can contribute. Over time, I have come to the realization that everyone is an expert. Expertise may be a relative term, but bear with me as I try to explain my position. Everyone has knowledge about something. We’re not talking “leading expert,” but enough knowledge to surpass the general populous. Let us take the child sitting at home listening to music as they rage against their parents. I would bet that child possessed a set of knowledge in music that their parents would not know and could not grasp. Why should that appreciation be neglected? The kid that sits at home and plays video games knows a lot about those video games. The learning is happening, just aimed in a different direction. Should we not encourage learning in all its forms? Perhaps we can direct it towards more pertinent interests, but the first step is to understand.

Knowledge in various fields, even those that are not regularly reflected upon in a positive light by society, is expansive. If we can appreciate knowledge in all forms, we can encourage knowledge for knowledge sake. That is something that is falling apart within our society. Scholarship is falling to the pragmatism that society is requiring. People don’t go to school to learn knowledge, but to learn a skill. How do we get back to wanting to learn knowledge?

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