Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wiki, a place for creation, construction and collaboration

(For week 8.)
Wiki is a useful tool, including Wikipedia, Wikibooks, etc. "A wiki makes it easy to swap ideas and information on projects--whether for a family vacation or a complex business enterprise. A wiki opens the door to experts and shy silent types alike, increasing creativity, expertise, and productivity all around. Wikis end the waste of ricocheting emails and communication breakdowns--wikis literally get everyone "on the same page" (From

The article I learned investigates the relationship between users' behavior in Wikipedia and their cultural backgrounds. Findings suggest that cultural differences do exist in their computer-mediated communication (CMC). 
This article refers to Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory when discussing users' cultural background. The four dimensions are Power Distance, Collectivism versus Individualism, Femininity versus Masculinity and Uncertainty Avoidance. Power distance means the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.
The Collectivism versus Individualism dimension describes the extent to which members of a culture rely on and have allegiance to either their self of the group. The Femininity versus Masculinity dimension deals with gender roles and their importance on individual and cultural levels. And Uncertainty Avoidance describes the extent to which people feel anxious or uneasy in unfamiliar or unpredictable situations.
With this perception, the research finds that:
  • The higher the Power Distance Index (PDI) of a country, the fewer deletions are made in that Wikipedia page (but the more likely there are bo be Spelling correction contributions).
  • The higher the Individualism Index (IDV) of a country, the less likely its people are to add or clarify information, and lower the IDV of a country, the more conributions can be found in the categories Add Information and Clarify Information.
  • The higher the IDV of a country, the more contributions are made by members of the particular Wikipedia page in the corrective categories Fix Link, Grammar,  and Spelling.
  • The higher the Masculinity Index (MAS) of a country, the more contributions in the categories Add Information and Clarify Information are found (In countries with a relatively higher MAS, success and progress are more important than in countries with a lower MAS); but the less likely corrective contributions are within Fix Link, Grammar, and Spelling.
  • The higher the Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) of a country, the larger the number of contributions is in the category Add Information; and the less likely contributions are in the categories Delete Link and Mark-up Language
This research is conducted among Wikipedia websites of France, Germany, Japan and Holland. I cannot help thinking of my country, China. In fact Wiki is not widely accepted in China, the same as facebook, youtube and some other social networks and resource sharing sites. The language maybe one of the reasons; the special consideration from the government is an important factor as far as I understand. We have our own online encyclopedias, and each page is strictly scrutinized. That differs from the freedom of Wiki. It seems a sad situation, for our connection to the world is obstructed to a large extent. 
Anyway, these findings must be applicable to Chinese computer-mediated communication as well.

One of the guest speakers this week introduced her research of using Wiki in early childhood education. This implies the application of Wiki in collaborative learning. It also promotes creation and motivation. In this way, students are constructing their own knowledge. A pretty effective teaching method!

Relevant Articles: 
Pfeil, U., Zaphiris, P., & Ang, C. S. (2006). Cultural differences in collaborative 
      authoring of Wikipedia. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(1), 
      article 5. Retrieved on June 25, 2010, from

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