I’ve already discussed how geology is communicated via organised, professionally sourced organisations so I feel it’s time to have a quick overview of a method of communication I have a great deal of respect for, and although I would never use it as a source in anything I’d write, it’s handy for reference; Wikipedia.
From its founding in 2001, the lampooned yet invaluable site has grown to encompass 17 million articles in 270 odd languages, 3.5 million in English – yes, these are from Wikipedia. I have previously used it to show that people do not care about global warming.
I have written a couple of articles, and edited a fair few more. My current flagship is the ‘Geology of East Sussex’ article, written mainly to show up Kent and West Sussex’s attempts. The geology of the area is fairly complex, situated in a huge anticline resting on reactivated Variscan faults; with a series of famous sedimentary lithologies present too, also the first identified dinosaur, which is rather nice.
So, what did/do people need to know? I have (attempted) to write it with couple of main objectives
Ø > What’s important near them
Ø > Why there are some nice hills
Ø > How old the rocks are
Ø > If there is anything economical in the county.
For a simple, quick reference, people do not need to know about the ammonite flora of the Sussex Downs, if they have an interest that information can be found from other sources, topics, which relate are hyperlinked to the relative article; allowing for a growth of knowledge. This leads to the question; Are articles like this useful though? It has been written to stimulate interest in geology in the local area, and is Wikipedia a suitable mechanism for communicating ‘solid’ geosciences (that is ideas that are widely accepted and not likely to receive undue attention and editing)?
Yes. In short. As long as these articles are written properly, from personal experience I know that plenty of knowledgeable people trawl through Wikipedia, removing and editing things that need it – yes there is some utter rubbish. But how many times have you wondered what a mineral, fossil or pretty much anything is, typed it into Google and Wikipedia has the answer? For free in a format that is quick and easy to comprehend (usually) resource it’s brilliant. Just don’t reference it.