Wikipedia & Edupunk

I’m sitting at the Raleigh-Durham Airport, waiting to board a plane for Minneapolis and then on to Bismarck, North Dakota. This will be my first time working in North Dakota, so it’s one more state struck from my slowly dwindling list of un-visited states. Actually, I’ll strike another one next week when I’ll be presenting at a conference with Will Richardson in Hawaii. My focus in Bismarck with be wikis, games, and disruptive conditions of teaching and learning.

What’s been on my mind lately, while continuing to move furniture, has been a Wikipedia article that I started the other day on Edupunk. I’d added to an existing article on a book I was reading a few weeks ago, and my paragraphs hadn’t been deleted yet, so I guess I was feeling cocky.

Picture of Warning Message from Wikipedia
Warning Message from Wikipedia [click to enlarge]
Anyway, I scanned through the instructions and guidelines, and then entered a couple of paragraphs of definition, saved, and then went back in and added a citation and some comments. Then, revisiting the article to add something else less than five minutes later, the message to the right had been posted. I must admit to a fairly intense flashback to early days when I had a genuine fear of breaking the rules. I felt I’d been caught, — by the principal.

However, isn’t this the Wikipedia at its best. Isn’t it the basis of many educators’ resistance to The Free Encyclopedia, that anyone can post anything they like? I thought, “Here’s a great example of the power of a social information source, not that it is unvetted, but that it is incredibly vetted — continually vetted.”

The objection here was that Edupunk is a neologism.

Neologisms (according to Wikipedia) are words and terms that have recently been coined, generally do not appear in any dictionary, but may be used widely or within certain communities. ((Wikipedia Contirubtors, “Avoid Neologisms.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 2008. Wikipedia. 2 Jun 2008 http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia:Avoid_neologisms&oldid=209858737.))

But! On further reflection, while navigating our rented Uhaul truck down I-40 toward Raleigh, it occured to me that Wikipedia was one of the first places I went to, to learn more about Edupunk. I expected the article to be there, and when it wasn’t, my first impulse was to start one.

The Wikipedia community works hard to earn respect among readers raised on authoritative, published print content. Yet, part of Wikipedia’s value is its freshness, the fact that you can find the latest information there. And even if the term, Edupunk, does fizzle out in a few weeks or days, it might be of interest to someone, that for a few days during the approaching Summer of 2008, a group of educators were using a term so identified with rebellion and non-conformity to talk about the state of education.

At present, two days later, the Edupunk still lives, having been labeled as a stub (..an article containing only a few sentences of text which is too short to provide encyclopedic coverage of a subject, but not so short as to provide no useful information), having been edited 15 times with two citations. The background discussion is quite interesting.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.