The foundation of Wictures: the power of wiki software as to leverage qualitative lecture overviews

In this post I would like to outline an idea I have in mind about a possible project. Do you like/hate it? Do you see any bottlenecks? I would love to hear your feedback!

Let me start with Socrates, the famous philosopher. How do we know about Socrates? Well, in fact Socrates did not write philosophical texts himself. It is only thanks to the writings by his students, colleagues and contemporaries that we know about the man, his life, and his philosophy [ref]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socrates[/ref]. Also, have you ever wondered why we study economy today? Although Economy has been around since Aristoteles [ref]Oikonomos was an Ancient Greek word meaning ‘manager’ or ‘housekeeper’, which is today known as economics.[/ref], the first economics textbook only appeared in the late 40s. It is therefore a very recent education discipline. The reason for this is because economy was irrelevant in the Greek, Hebrew and Roman cultures. Through Arabian literature, economic thinking was spread to Western nations and that is why we study economics today.

Forming an accurate picture of these philosophers is problematic at best. I think we owe a lot of praise to them — students, colleagues and contemporaries — because they wrote everything down. Indeed, who would have guessed that economy became so important to us? We do not know these things beforehand, but it shows that knowledge transfer is essential. Today, thanks to the Internet we have the tools to manage knowledge very efficiently, in a way one never could imagine.

Now, consider the example of going to college. Most students take notes, whether that is on paper or on a notebook, when they attend a course. Why do they do this? If I were a Professor, my exam questions would certainly revolve around aspects that I stressed during my lectures. Students know this and want to be well prepared. There are, however, roadblocks, that prevent us from grasping the whole picture. It is often said that human communication consists of 93% body language, while only 7% of communication consists of words themselves [ref]Borg, John. Body Language: 7 Easy Lessons to Master the Silent Language. Prentice Hall life, 2008[/ref]. Therefore, we need to carefully listen which is apparently not an easy task. Secondly, cognitive psychology teaches us that our attention may fail us because of varying levels of energy, due to stress for instance. And finally, if we do manage to listen actively we all interpret the message in a different way. We are all biased somehow, because we have different backgrounds and believes. Everyone will remember different things. As a result, if you would compare notes, you will be surprised on how different notes actually can be in terms of what they emphasize et cetera.

Then, how would you solve this personal note taking problem? The problem is that there is a lack of a consistent message because every person has his own version which do not all stroke with what the speaker really meant. Actually, this problem is everywhere in our daily lives. But especially when you attend a lecture you want to learn, get the idea, prepare appropriately for an exam, et cetera.

We still take individual notes, there is nothing wrong with that. But now, thanks to wiki technology we are able to collaboratively create content. Wiki’s fit in this story of personal note taking because the online collaboration platforms allow us to have a group conversation as to get better notes, in an organized and coordinated way. Better notes because others are able to fill gaps and the group can correct mistakes. This is an amazing opportunity and this is also what I would like to establish with the Wictures project. In the end, it is all about the power of group dynamics that allow us to solve a problem or make the right decision.

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