Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Blogs vs. Wikis

Blogs, wikis, blogs, wikis, blogs, wikis... Everywhere I look, it's blogs and wikis. But, what are they, and why are they ubiquitous?

Meriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines them as such

blog: noun: a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer; also : the contents of such a site.

wiki: noun: a Web site that allows visitors to make changes, contributions, or corrections

Pretty straightforward stuff. I would boil it down to the fact that blogs are maintained by a small number of people (fewer than 10, in most cases), while wikis are maintained by much larger groups (from the double-digits to billions, in the case of Wikipedia). They both allow for collaboration. Wikis - throughout all content, and blogs - by way of comments and blogrolls.

Blogs are at the forefront of media convergence. Virtually every traditional newspaper and magazine that has an online presence (which is convergence in and of itself) has one or more bloggers working for them. The New York Times has close to 50 blogs that cover topics ranging from technology to politics to college sports.

With all new forms of media, comes scrutiny. Blogs have been criticized for misreporting news items, and it is often overlooked that they are a source of opinion and not unbiased news.

Wikis on the other hand, and most notably, Wikipedia, have come under scrutiny for inaccuracies and a "Wild West" feel, based on the fact that virtually anyone can contribute to its content. Some of which has been abated by the implementation of moderators, as noted in the CNN article by John D. Sutter.

Another criticism of wikis has come from fact that semi-sensitive information may be shared. As illustrated in Noam Cohen's New York Times article, "Wikipedia has been engulfed in a furious debate involving psychologists who are angry that the 10 original Rorschach plates are reproduced online, along with common responses for each. For them, the Wikipedia page is the equivalent of posting an answer sheet to next year’s SAT."

The fact of the matter is, with new forms of media, there are going to be some bumps in the road. Content mediation and censorship, not the least of these concerns. However, with the broad reach, ease-of-use, and low cost of wikis and blogs, it appears they are here to stay.


  1. You used a dictionary, I should have thought of that. And I didn't know that about the Rorschach plates. To be honest the idea of there being right answers to the ink blots is kind of silly.

  2. I love blogs, it much much easier than wikis. It is easy to post, comment and so on.