I’m a big fan of Wikipedia and so is David Ferriero, 10th Archivist of the United States. That’s an impressive endorsement.

Most of us have discovered that it’s usually the first place to go for information to get started on research.  According to a recent Pew Internet report, with about 53% of all Internet-connected using its service in mid-2010 percent of all Americans also turn to Wikipedia for information online.

Wikipedia is celebrating 10 years as a resource of free information. It was launched in st. Peteresburg, Florida and has “helped to turn Google into a verb and a multibillion-dollar business”. Yes, that’s multibillion.

The partnership between Google and Wikipedia has turned into one of the best partnerships of the first decade of the 21st century. Because of all the Web links to sources and other content within Wikipedia entries, it ranks high on Google search. For most of us starting out this is not an easy thing to do.

To quote the Collector in Chief, “Wikipedia is an impressive, awe-inspiring resource. In my previous role as Director of the New York Public Libraries, I encouraged staff to contribute to and use Wikipedia.”

Wikipedia is sometimes not taken seriously because of doubts about accuracy, but according to reported comparative studies errors don’t appear any more frequently in Wikipedia than its printed counterparts. I’m sure most family history researchers have found this to be true due to various elements that contribute to the human condition. With Wikipedia, however, the power lies with the user to flag content that you believe is incorrect or biased. If you decide to make a change you do need to say who you are—this is more than reasonable.

““Now we can all say: If Wikipedia is good enough for the Archivist of the United States, maybe it should be good enough for you.”

This summer, we hope to strengthen our institutional relationship with the Wikipedian community by hosting a Wikipedian in Residence. We are currently seeking applications for this student position for the 2011 summer. The Wikipedian will gain an insider’s look into the National Archives and develop an appreciation for the records and resources we have available.

As an agency, I look forward to our staff learning more about the fabric and culture of Wikipedia and how to get involved. With 42 percent of the American public relying on Wikipedia, it makes sense for the records and resources of the National Archives to be present in this space. By having the permanent records of the federal government available through Wikipedia, we will reach children, genealogists, educators, researchers, and members of the public who may never have come to the National Archives or Archives.gov to view our holdings.”

To read the entire article and learn more please click on AOTIS National Archives

 

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