CultureShock refers to the 'sense of confusion and uncertainty that may affect people exposed to an alien culture or environment without adequate preparation'. (Merriam Webster) Based on this definition it is easy to try and deduce what WikiCultureShock is. Wikis are an incredibly useful tool utilized by many people yet there seems to be a sense of WikiCultureShock experienced by many new users.

Wikis have some very unique characteristics that contribute to the feelings of culture shock. For example, Wikis not only have a different way of formatting text, by writing in code, but they also have a different look and feel than many other internet sources. Unlike normal websites, anyone can update a wiki. This tends to be a source of concern and surprise to new wiki users. Users are often worried that their work will be deleted or meddled with. This, however, is just the way a wiki works. Primarily used for collaboration, wikis level the playing field when it comes to what users can do.

One of the very common complaints that I have noticed about wikis, is that they are ugly. This is another large culture shock compared to the neat, attractive looking, brightly colored websites that many people are used to . The purpose of a wiki is not the same as the purpose of those other websites. Those websites seek to grab attention and keep it, attempting to intrigue a guest enough to continue to look around the site. Wikis are information based. True, there can be a wiki about anything and everything, but the primary function of a wiki is to get information across plainly and efficiently.

All of the attributes that are unique to wikis can be reason of why the WikiCultureShock is so large and why many people are turned off to Wikis. Once given a try, however, wikis can be a most useful tool that encourages creative and collaborative thinking.

My own personal WikiCultureShock was similar to what I have written above. Before starting to work with wikis I never even considered them as a viable option for literacy. Part of my thinking is derived out of the sentence that teachers my entire life have said "Wikipedia is not a credible source and should not be used as a legitimate source of information" but as I learn more about wikis I am starting to see that that is BS. Perhaps wikis are not 'credible' per-say, but they are a wonderful tool and can be incredibly helpful and informational.

Once a user becomes familiar with the layout and the processes of wikis, the fog starts to clear and wikis can be seen as a useful, efficient tool.

-BriannaGraner
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