As part of their MED3040 Publishing Books and Magazines module (third year for the BA Publishing and Media), students researched on a topic of their choice, wrote an essay and as part of their assignment and they made an edit on the wikipedia page about that topic.

Their editing experience started around Christmas, when they all began to decided what they wanted to do their final essays on. The task was to do their final 2,500 word essay and then extract 100 words from it and edit it into a wikipedia article. The final essay had to focus on a particular area of a publishing industry, or technology or culture and discuss its aspects, prospects, history, present, future, significance and justifying our choice.

Jake Toon, one of the students, chose to analyse how the social aspects of reading have been affected by social media. One of the examples he used was literary festivals and there ability to offer a platform for readers to come together and take part in a collaborative experience. He then used the North London Literary Festival as a primary example and their use of twitter to encourage people going to the event to submit a 140-character short story.

It then came to taking the 100 words from the essay and editing it into a wikipedia article. The students could either implement it into an already existing article, or they could create a new article all together. After a little research Jake soon realised that The North London Literary festival did not have a wikipedia article and he thought it was an extremely credible event and deserved its own encyclopaedia entry, especially after having Carolle Anne Duffy attending in 2015. Jake says that:

“The formatting of a text on wikipedia is one of the main aspects to consider when editing. The idea is to strip back all the information and only put the specific facts on in an article being as unbiased and to the point as possible.Taking the 100 words from an essay was not going to work as in my final work I was expected to argue and elaborate on all of my ideas, something which isn’t welcome on Wikipedia. I therefore decided to keep the same ideas but rewrite the 100 words to a specific format, minus the Harvard referencing.”

He added all the correct information and relevant sources he needed to and then created his own original article on wikipedia for anyone to look up. He then connected the article to previous articles that were on wikipedia, such as the Literary Festivals page. Jake says that:

I learnt an important lesson in redundancy within language. Wikipedia encourages people to take away all of the ‘fluff’ within text and only put the information needed. Coming from a an English Literature, Language and Journalistic background I have always had to put more description and persuasive techniques into my work, but Wikipedia pushed me to entirely abandon my processes and only write the factual text that needed to go on the article, minus any ambiguities that may surround my work. Also Wikipedia is an entirely cooperative experience and you should expect people to either edit or add to your article, and that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing when people delete or add new stuff because it shows the true purpose that wikipedia sets out to achieve: a brief, edited, collaborative summary of facts and knowledge.

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