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Wikimania 2012: Using the Wikipedia Global Education Program to Co-Create meaning

This semester at Georgetown University I am serving as the Wikipedia Campus Ambassador for Professor Adel Iskandar's graduate course: Media & Communications in the Arab World - a course that is collaborating with students particpating in the Wikepdia Arabic program. Wikipedia Arabic is currently a very small community as there are few speakers of the language. The Global Education program is focused on trying to improve and increase the total content in the Arabic language. The students in the Georgetown class, some of whom are in the Communication, Culture & Technology program and in the Arab studies program at Georgetown with varying degress of familiarity with the language, will work alongside students in the Arab world, specifically those in Eqypt, to create and translate corresponding Arabic articles. This is not only important to making Arab issues more visible to the English Wikipedia, but will also help grow the size of Wikipedia Arabic. One of the significant challenges, however, is finding "Verifiable" content in the English language that confirms events that occur in the Arab world. 

Scholars in the digital humanities have written about the communal consequences of male-dominant authorship on Wikipedia (Davidson, 2009), about the lack of contributions to humanities-based articles compared to science Wikipedia articles (Kill, 2008), and about the fear that Wikipedia editing practices will replace academic work (Messer-Kruse, 2012), however, authors continue to neglect the power of transnational scholarship emerging from students partipating in the Wikipedia Global Education program. At the 2012 Wikimania conference this summer in DC, I plan to present, with a few of the students, on the wiki articles and research projects produced from the Media and Communications in the Arab World Course. I hope that the collaborative efforts put forth at Gerogetown can be a useful model for other courses that plan to research, update, and translate media information from around the world. Futhre more, Wikipedia article creation can augment the development of research papers/topics outside of Wikipedia. For exampl, the "back-end" and "talk-pages" of Wikipedia can be used to track how, why, by whom, and where infromation and knowledge is produced. This emerging form of transational collaboratio and co-creation, within the Wikipedia Global Education program suggests that scholarship in the 21st century must reflect on the way meaning is mediated, translated, and circulated around the world. 

I also encourage others involved in the program - to sign up and discuss some of the obstacles and opportunities they encountered with the program! 


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