Sunday, August 12, 2018

#Knowledge - three types of knowledge and why "academic" is only one and overrated

There are three types of knowledge; they are academic, professional and knowledge from experience. The scheme to the right was published by Jaap van der Stel. He works in the field of psychiatry and is known for his work on addiction in combination with the use of peers in the recovery from addiction.

In the Wikimedia world, we insist on the primacy of academic knowledge and up to a point it serves us well. Operationally it means that much of the studies are done outside of the WMF, they may point out whatever but they hardly ever make an operational difference. When the internal WMF researchers study a subject, they are typically directed to study particular phenomena and it may point to operational issues. Issues that are either addressed by the WMF itself or adopted by the community.

When scientists make a compilation of all the sources in all the Wikipedias, it is academic work when the result is static. It may indicate what sources are used multiple times but it does not help any editor weed out sources that are biased or false. Magnus started work on a tool that knows about all the sources in two Wikipedia and Wikispecies.  It is updated in real time and that  gives it valid operational credentials.

I know from experience that there are issues with source information as we have it in Wikidata. We cannot invalidate sources by reference. We are only strong in the biomedical field and adding new information is not at all user friendly.

Now this user experience does not get much of a priority for valid operational reasons but the effect is that Wikidata is only useful for the geeks. Its lack of usability prevents its data to be used on Wikipedias in the "other" languages. It is where there is little or no academic nor operational interest.

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