Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Refighting 1812 on Wikipedia

Richard Jensen has made available his article from The Journal of Military History"Military History on the Electronic Frontier: Wikipedia Fights the War of 1812." It is a study of how the online encyclopedia and its contributors deal with a large historical topic of current public interest. 

Jensen is a history professor who has also been an active Wikipedia editor, and a founder of H-Net. He  tells H-Canada:  
It seems that everyone knows about Wikipedia but its working are something of a mystery. Its article on the War of 1812 runs 14,000 words and over 2400 different people helped edit it:  "crowd sourcing" you might say.  The results were reasonably good, in my opinion.
Though, as he points out,
They rely on free online sources and popular books, and generally ignore historiography and scholarly monographs and articles. The military articles are old-fashioned, with an emphasis on tactics, battles, and technology, and are weak on social and cultural dimensions.
The Jensen article's version of that standard opening footnote thanks all the usual academic colleagues, plus "Dank, Dwalrus, Narson, Shakescene, TFD, and Tito Durra." The historical universe evolves.

(H/T to H-Canada)

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