While a little on the lengthy side, “Wikipedia And The Death Of The Expert” by Maria Bustillos was a witty, well-written read that held my attention the entire time. In addition to being amusing, the content of the article was informative and could be related back to what we have been doing in class all semester. Throughout the semester we as a class have been using Wikipedia extensively. We have utilized Wikipedia both as a base for starting our research as well as adding research we found to be pertinent to the Vinegar Hill Wikipedia page. Contrary to most classes I have taken in the past, we were encouraged to look to Wikipedia as a starting point while performing research.
I especially liked when Bustillos discussed the benefits of viewing the history of Wikipedia pages. The history provides the viewer with additional insight to any potential controversies surrounding the topic that might exist. In addition, it provides a sense of transparency to how the page was formed. Unlike printed encyclopedias, the viewer can see who edits and contributes each piece of information. I think a sense of confidence in the material develops when an option to see every single edit exists.
An interesting point the author, Joshua Rothman, of the “Why is Academic Writing so Academic?” article made is that while journalism is moving in a populist direction, academic writing is doing the opposite. Academics write their articles and papers with the mindset that only very small, select groups of people will read them. I have noticed that when I have read academic articles in the past that the targeted audience is specific. The method in which the material is discussed in academic writings is dry and concentrated. Typically, the author writes in such a way that he expects the reader to already have knowledge on the subject. Because of this, these academic writings fit into a small niche.
I think another reason why the audience reading academic writing has shrunk is because of how difficult it has become to access academic journals. Rothman attributes the exclusive nature of academic writing to the way the system that produces these writings is. I agree with him. He did not explicitly address this factor, but after reading “Students Can’t Access Essential Research” for a past reflection, I believe that if more people had access to academic journals, it would expand academic writing. Not only would students, professors, and other members of academia read academic writing if access to it was easier and more affordable, but people who simply have an interest in the topic would read it.
Access to academic research has become more expensive each year. It is becoming a trend for schools to cancel subscriptions to academic journals due to insufficient financial means. Despite the fact that these journals are filled with research based articles written by researchers for free, the publishers, many of which are for-profit, sell access to the journals at inflated rates. An article can only be published in one journal at a time and cannot be posted or shared through other mediums. Because of this rule, the publishers are able to create a monopoly thus removing any preventatives that would control prices.
By contributing to public resources like Wikipedia, we are able to share this research with people who cannot otherwise access these journals. When a contributor adds cited data, we inform the reader of reliable information. This attempts to level the playing field of research. It aids people to do more thorough, extensive research because they are now able to access additional research-based sources.
Throughout the semester the focus of my research has been on how the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge affected the vitality of Vinegar Hill. After my research at the libraries, archives, and online, I have obtained a lot of information regarding the Brooklyn Bridge. However, I have not found a lot of information on how the Manhattan Bridge changed Vinegar Hill. Because of this, I think that the focus of my final will be predominantly on the Brooklyn Bridge. My scope is wide in the sense that I am focusing on multiple factors that involves the Brooklyn Bridge. Some factors include but are not limited to the following: population change, public perception, why the Brooklyn Bridge was built, its effects on transportation, and how the bridge changed the ferry industry, if at all. In addition, I am toying with the idea of delving into the actual construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.
I think that the best way to produce my research in a final project is in written form. I would like to post my final project on OpenLab as a page dedicated to the Brooklyn Bridge. As of now I am researching and writing independently. Even though my work is independent, I want to contribute to the project page that is being set up by a fellow classmate for the entire class to post on.
The Civil, Political, Professional and Ecclesiastical History and Commercial and Industrial Record of the County of Kings and the City of Brooklyn, N.Y. from 1683 to 1884 by Henry R. Stiles.
Guide to the Downtown Brooklyn Development Association records 1979.021 Box: 6 of 9 and Box: 1 of 9.
DUMBO, Brooklyn waterfront photographs and slides