Our blog assignment this week was to pick a Wikipedia entry related to some of the issues we discussed regarding “new media” this semester. I chose an article about Napster on Wikipedia. The article originated on June 16, 2006 but has been edited over 300 times since then. Some of these edits have been minor and some include just posting external links, but the article had been altered in some way over 300 times! The article is about Napster, the online music sharing service that was created by Shawn Fanning. The article discusses Napster’s origins with Macintosh, legal challenges it faced, the shutdown of the service, its current status, as well as Napster’s place in pop culture. The beginning of the article seems fairly objective. It introduces the services Napster provided and how Shawn Fanning came to create Napster. The legal challenges section seems to be a bit sparse. The authors mention issues that the band Metallica as well as Madonna had with Napster but seems to be lacking detail. I am not familiar with the detail of Napster’s legal challenges but I am sure it was more extensive and included more than these two artists. The section that discusses the Shutdown also seems to be a bit sparse and reads more like a timeline of events with little detail. The current status section and popular culture sections are also not very detailed but are straightforward. Overall, the article seems unbiased but I think that may also be because there is not much written here to be biased about. The only thing I wonder about is if what they included versus what has been left out could be a form of information control bias, but this is unlikely since the article has been collaborated on by many different people.
The discussion section of this article shows that the major issue is that the article needs more work and more information. The specific section that the discussion seems to keep coming back to is the legal section of the article. They say the article needs more case and court information such as on the judges or even the official name of the case. Also, they wanted more information on copyright law and Napster’s circumstance regarding that law. It seems that there was great support for this but citations and referencing here was an issue.
I think the idea of collaboratively-produced knowledge is awesome in an ideal world. However, it seems that there are so many contributors and so many articles that organization is something Wikipedia can reach for but I’m not sure they will ever achieve. Using the Napster article as an example, there seemed to be much discussion and disagreement over an article that is maybe two pages long. I would imagine that this discussion would be endless over a more extensive article. But then again, maybe endless discussion is an achievement.