Wiki Culture Shock

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.


I'd have to agree with BriannaGraner on the different things she talked about having to do with wiki culture shock. People who are used to other forms of writing or have other ideas about information sharing might have an issue with wiki. They might be a bit 'shocked' or have a hard time really accepting it. Some might have trouble wrapping their head around the idea that multiple people can contribute to one page. Some people believe this contributes to a lack of credibility and it may but that is not always the case. Not all wiki pages are free to be messed with by anyone. Some pages have rules and regulations that need to be followed.

I would also have to agree that wikis may be a bit of a shock to people who are used to more colorful or artistic designs. Wikis can have pictures and things like that added but for the most part they are pretty plain. It is something that people can get used to. It helps with organization of the information, making it easier for people to understand what they need to know. Wikis can be changed by the creator though. They are not all of the same. They use different forms of organzation and different types of headings.

Wikis also use their own form of writing. It has it's own code and can be confusing. It is something to get used to. Wikis can possibly cause culture shock to some but it would be worth it. Wikis may be criticized by some or believed to have credibility issues but that doesn't change the fact that they can be a great tool and good source of information. In the article I read, Wikis in Composition and Communication Classrooms it talks about how some may put up a resistance towards wiki but it is a great place to collaborate and learn. Once people have gotten use the way wiki is they will be able to benefit from it even more. -AbbieEdman
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