Jan 26, 2008

On Wikipedia and Random Articles


When I am bored with my usual Net surfing, I occasionally visit Wikipedia and use the Random Article function. This is located on the left sidebar of Wikipedia, and clicking the link sends the computer user into unknown and often fascinating journeys into accumulated knowledge.

Now, even though I am a borderline Wikipediholic, I recognize that the articles are only as accurate as the last revisions. Still, I find the site to be an excellent basic reference for initial inquiries into a topic with which one is unfamiliar.

Today I began with an article on Tabon man, which is a set of human remains found in the Tabon Cave in Quezon, Palawan, Philippines that are between 22,000 and 24,000 years old. My next click took me to the article entitled Clastic rock, which is composed of fragments, or clasts, of pre-existing rock, and which is a term most often applied to sedimentary rocks.

I next visited an article on Kvarnbron, which is a bridge in central Stockholm, Sweden that serves a light rail line called Tvärbanan. The name of the bridge in the Swedish languag translates as "The Mill Bridge." After perusing this article, I traveled halfway around the world and learned about Peter Waite, South Australian pastoralist and public benefactor. This article lacked citations and artwork, and needed cleanup, so I ended up spending about 15 minutes improving it.

Also needing a bit of wiki-TLC was an article on Nertera granadensis, which is a ground cover plant with orange berries of the genus Nertera. I found a public domain picture, added references, and improved the text in my 20-minute detour from random articles.

Wiki-surfing can open up a person to areas of knowledge from which they have previously been woefully ignorant. The practice, of course, can be a exercise in time-suckage, so be sure to place limits on random article scanning.

1 comment:

peterpoe said...

If you like Wikipedia random articles, take a look at this site I launched yesterday: Wikirandom