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Robert Scoble wrote a post about professors banning Google and Wikipedia as sources for research papers. He compared these professors to those who banned “newfangled Macintoshes” back in his day.

I completely disagree with this comparison. He is comparing the use of tools to sources of information. I fully support the professors who ban the use of Wikipedia and Google as sources for college research papers.

Wikipedia is a great place to get some quick, general, and shallow knowledge about a topic that has no bearing on their professional career. For example, one could look up the history of Nintendo for their own personal interest but should not use Wikipedia when writing a paper on Nintendo’s affect on the US television market.

The problem occurs when you are writing a research paper for college. Wikipedia does not give you enough depth of information or have any authority behind it. You have no idea who edited it or their bias. Wikipedia does have a decent amount of the facts cited, but then a student should read that website/book/article and cite accordingly. This would provide them with a broader and deeper view of the topic, and the professor would not know that they used Wikipedia. The problem is that they are getting the article in Wikipedia and then the research stops there. That does not give them an extensive enough view on the topic. If they do use Wikipedia, they should take the extra steps and follow the citation links at the bottom of the articles. Some of the time, this will lead them to more credible sources with more information. It is their duty as the researcher to determine if these articles are coming from a credible source.

Additionally, many colleges and universities offer a wide array of databases to their students*. Many college students pay for the use of these databases, yet choose Wikipedia. They should instead go to their library and ask for some assistance with these databases and in finding and determining credible sources.

I was actually shocked that Robert said that Google was a good source for research. Recently, he posted some videos describing that Google is doomed because it is spammed by SEO or Search Engine Optimization. SEO creates the same theoretical problem when a student searches for credible sources through Google. The first three results may be very relevant but not unbiased. They will be able to obtain good articles and research, they just have to wade through most of the optimized sites and those that have a financial investment in the topic. Many college students don’t understand this and believe that the top three results are the most credible. They will then use articles from WebsiteX.com instead of a professors article on Profsite.edu. If they do choose to do an internet search, they might want to try Google scholar and search scholarly articles that have been published and reviewed. While they are at it, they should just use the many databases that are offered by their library*.

Overall, I believe that students are using Wikipedia and Google as a crutch when doing research papers. Those are both places to easily obtain information, but by themselves are by no means sufficient. By banning the use of these websites for research papers, professors are helping their students to research credible sources.

[Original Article and Scoble’s Post]

* I do know that some students may be at a disadvantage because their University does not offer these sources.

For those of you who aren’t super obsessed Apple Fanboys, you may not know that one of the biggest Apple events, Macworld, is right around the corner. In fact, it all starts on Tuesday 1/15 and Steve Jobs will tell us about those amazing and shiny new products that Apple has been working on. But I am not talking about Macworld. What interests me are the weeks that lead up to it.

The weeks, or even months, before Macworld is when people start “leaking” information that someone on the “inside” has passed along. In addition, you also see speculation about where the industry is headed and the products that are “definitely” going to be released. Some rumor sites post lists of their readers ideas and speculation, most of which sound as if there origins are in a science fiction story. We hear stories about really cool technology that doesn’t really sound feasible. In the end, most of the rumors and speculation are usually wrong and way off the mark, but this doesn’t negate their value. In fact, these fake rumors are just as important as the products that are actually released.

All these fake rumors were created by someone’s imagination. They dreamt of things that they would like to see invented and instead of shooting down an idea because it was unrealistic, they ran with it. They told others about these ideas and somewhere along the way it turned into, “Company A is going to release product B according to a reliable source.” The fact is, a companies innovation is limited to their creators imagination. If people stop dreaming and start saying “this isn’t possible” or “it can’t be done” then innovation will come to a standstill. Some of the greatest products are a result of people following their imagination.

I don’t believe that all, or even most, of these rumors are started by employees at Apple or other tech companies, but their idea could still make it there. Someone may hear about this idea and try to make it a reality. These creative individuals may even start their own company or find their way into one that is already established.

Remember to take the rumors you hear with a grain of salt, but don’t stop enjoying these fantasy products that may show up in the future.

The idea for this post was originally sparked by a post written on Robert Scoble’s blog. The post was about the “10 unwritten rules of twitter” and how he breaks all of them.

I was going to write about how I disagree with almost all of those rules and why, but that led me to a much greater appreciation of the internet. The mere fact that there can be a group of people that uphold these rules, and then another group that doesn’t follow any of them is what makes the internet so great. It is a free for all of ideas and opinions that (for the most part) don’t affect others unless they choose to be affected.

I am not telling anyone anything new here. We all know that you can do what you want on the internet and there isn’t any official governing body. I believe it gets interesting when you look beyond this. Beyond the fact that there are unwritten rules, and look closer at why some choose to break them.

The internet is a medium to distribute art. Everything on the internet is an expression of someone’s personality and creativeness. This is how the dispute of the rules of twitter came to be. Twitter is a means to distribute art. They are short phrases or ideas that can mean different things to different people. You can use those 140 characters (or more) to express what you are doing in your own creative way.

This is why we follow others on Twitter, we are entertained and intrigued by the short pieces of writing published for the world to see. In the same way that photographers portray different scenes in their own vision, twitterers can show their ideas and thoughts in their own unique way.

This begs the question, are these 10 rules bad? Not at all. Some of the best art is created when there are constraints imposed. Just because you are given a 3×3 inch piece of paper doesn’t mean you can’t create breathtaking pieces of art. By self imposing these 10 rules, you are giving yourself a framework in which to create your art. By imposing a rule of no more than 5 tweets a day, it can be argued that each of those tweets should be of higher quality than if you produce 20 or 30. On the same token, people may thrive better when they can do how they please with their own set of guidelines.

Examples are everywhere. The internet is composed of different pieces of art that are manifested in different forms. Each of these forms present their own constraints. They can be websites, tweets, blog posts, photos, web 2.0 apps, videos, screencasts, news articles, books, podcasts, and many more. Each of these have technical or self imposed limitations, yet can produce outstanding pieces of art.

I’m not claiming that this is new in any way. The world around us is full of art. Architecture, decorations of a room, landscapes, cars, advertisements, books to name a few. The internet allows us to transcend the physical boundaries of our world to enjoy art created by people outside of our physical reach. That is the true treasure of the internet. This is what makes our world special.

In the end, break those rules or follow them. When it comes down to it, you are creating art in your own way. There is nothing wrong with either and there is nothing wrong when you disagree. If you disagree, write about it so we can all enjoy your insight and the little piece of art that you are bringing to the internet.

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