Social Media

Wikipilipinas: From a Wikipedia subset to one-stop hub on RP

When I first heard of Wikipilipinas as a Philippines-specific Wikipedia, my stock reaction was: Why the need? Why the fork? And I don’t know whether that approximates that of my techie friend: “He he he.” Perhaps he found the name either cute or corny.

I was further disappointed when I tried to compare Wikipilipinas’ entry from that of Wikipedia on the subjects of the “Philippines”, “Philippine Presidents”, and “Hello Garci Scandal”. They’re almost the same. Plain copy-and-paste tech, I would describe it. Isn’t it a waste of time copying exactly from other sources, no matter how noble the intention is? And isn’t it a waste of time for researchers/visitors as well trying to make out the differences or nuances between the apparently similar texts? Wikipedian and blogger Eugene Villar simply dismissed it as counter-productive.

I gave Wikipilipinas a benefit of the doubt by visiting its site, particularly its policies and overall “table of contents.” The policy side is not yet well-polished. For example, when I clicked on the link “Wikipilipinas differs from Wikipedia in some very important ways”, I was pointed to a text entitled “Editorial and Content Policies” which seemed to claim that two of its policies are unique to it, suggesting that Wikipedia does not have those policies at all.

So what differs Wikipilipinas from Wikipedia, despite their common software platform and content licensing scheme?

  1. Wikipilipinas claims that there is no “neutral” point of view. It “encourages balanced presentation, but not a neutral point of view.” Wikipedia believes that neutrality is achieved when writers and editors “explain disputes” not engage in them. (Does this mean that Wikipilipinas will entertain disputes so long as they are “properly” handled?)
  2. Wikipilipinas welcomes content based on original research, so long as it is supported by facts.
  3. Wikipilipinas is not an academic encyclopedia. It also incorporates other types of references like “Who’s Who” and Philippine almanac.

Content-wise, Wikipilipinas’s main page for Philippine topics appears to be tidier than that of Wikipedia’s category page. Likewise, there may be topics either not yet discussed or underdeveloped in Wikipedia that Wikipilipinas more comprehensively or contextually tackles. Compare Wikipedia’s List of Filipino Traditional Games to Wikipilipinas’ “Filipino Traditional Games.”

One unstated principle of Wikipilipinas would be the view that Filipinos and Filipinas (or the Filipinized ones?) know better. And since the primary intended audience are Filipinos and ethno-cultural groups in the Philippines, Filipinos and Filipinas would have the appropriate tact in gathering information and delivering them to the readers using localized language.

Wikipilipinas is a welcome idea. But I can’t say whether its time has come. I can’t even guess if at least some Pinoy wikipedians problematize whether they would stop writing or ‘developing content’ for Wikipedia and devote their energies on Wikipilipinas instead. And I learned from news that the site would soon monetize the hits by placing ads on the site’s pages.

And there you go. When that “monetization” of Wikipilipinas happens, that will be the fourth “important way” to distinguish it from the online encyclopedia that knowledge workers have loved since six years ago. And the question remains: Will Wikipilipinas catch up or achieve the long tail that it aims?

Danger of social networking: Friends lots but identity lost

Anti-virus firm Sophos has advised social networking buffs against entrusting their personal information to ‘strangers’. It arrived at this advisory after its testing Facebook. Using a test Facebook account, which was used to invite 200 Facebook members to be its friends,  the responses revealed that “41 percent of users — more than two in five — will divulge personal information, such as email address, date of birth and phone number, to a complete stranger, thus greatly increasing their susceptibility to identity theft.”

I was surprised by this research report. I thought that social networkers have become mature enough to choose their friends, given the threat of identity theft. It would be more interesting had the report provided a profile analysis of those who revealed their personal details: Were they largely young or old? Were they women or men? Were they from the rich countries or not?

I guess that the unnecessary openness of some social networkers was due to the mindset that having a lot of online friends indicates a high level of likability or sociability. Somehow, social networking sites, MySpace.com being the number one example, have established the implicit race wherein one who has the highest number of online friends wins.

Perhaps, from the point of view of cause advocates, the implicit race applies but with a more noble, much less political, intention–gaining more allies to a cause.

But whatever one’s purpose on social networking is, the point is for him or her to be extra careful against identity theft. For instead of gaining friends or allies, s/he will lose more of him/herself. Unless s/he wants a friend she’s willing to lose her/his identity to. But that’s another story.

Use of social media in advocacy work

For what use are social media as far as the non-profit community is concerned?

  • Blogs and networking with (fellow) bloggers virally market one’s advocacy issues. The same with social bookmarks such as del.icio.us and digg.com.
  • Social networking sites are potential means to propagate one’s issues and galvanize actions from there. One maximizes his/her community of friends, work colleagues and loved ones as propagators of his/her issues.
  • Artists with a cause have their own chances to get heard through media sharing sites such as YouTube, last.fm, and Flickr.com. Podcasting is one sure way for artists to showcase their advocacy products.
  • Advocacy work also requires links with the target communities which make social media a perfect tool. The more user-friendly the web sites are, the higher chance for the online advocacy to become successful.

In what ways social media may be maximized for one’s advocacies?

  • Network with (fellow) bloggers by commenting to their blog posts, providing trackbacks, and subscribing to their blog through rss (web content feed).
  • Sign up with social networking sites such as MySpace or Facebook and create a group or two about your cause.
  • Maximize your current social networks by creating a group or so and invite your friends/contacts to that group.
  • Create and utilize other types of media like videos, mp3s and photos in your advocacy work.
  • Raise chats to the higher level. Use them as a way to nurture relationships with your present and potential allies.
  • In designing your site:
    • choose a platform that provides rss service.
    • make effective use of tags.
    • use cause-related keywords in your meta and header tags.
  • Use a signature that provides links to your advocacy sites.

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Femmes Fatales on MySpace?

You are a man having just reached 40 years and are into social networking. What would you do if you received a friend request from an American whom you did not know but whose profile is something like she’s 23 years old, liberated, cosmopolitan, and oozing with sex appeal?

Frankly enough, I was smitten by her sexy picture in her blurb. My mind played on naughtily and imagined what would happen next if I accepted her request. But, having come from a seminary, I think I was able to hone this flair of managing my impure thoughts, so that I won’t eventually violate my moral rules in life, thanks to my Roman Catholic enlightenment. Long story short, I ignored that very tempting offer by a lady who in fairness might just wanted electronic or virtual chums in her life, period.

But I’m exercising my right to choose my friends. I signed up with MySpace (last week) just to look for my old friends, not to have virtual ones who I had not met. I had been interested in its being number one social networking site in the US particularly. I also wishfully think that some of my long-lost friends would find me through that site.

Online seduction is how I can describe the friend request. And I can’t help but recall the child rape brouhaha involving MySpace in January this year. If online teens are capable of ending in abominable situations like that, could adults be victims in any way as well? I’m exaggerating, am I not? But what if it could be true that online men can be victims as well? Yeah, there could even be a sequel to the movie “Basic Instinct” for the digital age.

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