Wiki This Part Two

As has been mentioned before, I really really love wikis. The collective information of many thousands of people with just enough extra time on their hands! Why, just today I was sending a link about the spanish word manzano (apple tree) to my little boy, and that link led me to a Wikipedia link to the Manzano mountains in New Mexico, where I used to live so I followed a link there to the Sandia mountains just north of the Manzanos and came to this picture:

(the giant version is much better) and, reading more about the mountains I loved to hike and bike in when I lived there, I find out this astonishing fact: it is an uplifted coral reef, probably!

And so the amount we can learn when we are all communicating is pretty fantastic. My students in GENE 3000H (Honors Evolution) just finished their website on the interface between climate change and evolutionary processes, and it is really impressive to me how much they accomplished. This started a conversation among the folks in my lab about things like Wikipedia - traditionally, the bane of professors grading undergraduate research papers - being considered a component of scientific outreach. So my student Christine posts this page on turtle barnacles, starting from scratch. Katie was updating the page on Unionid mussels today. We are thinking this will be part of our weekly lab group, when we catch up with what each of us have been doing we’ll discuss the topics we have added to, and learned from. Obviously, Wikipedia is generally only the starting point for inquiry, but why not make it as complete as possible? Similar tools like the Encyclopedia of Life are also great things to contribute to (I haven’t tried this yet - next step!).