When you think of Wikipedia, what comes to mind? If you are thinking research made easy, then you haven’t heard of the Internet Archive just yet.
Wikipedia has been a great resource for speedy research for as long as we’ve known how to operate Google searches. However, Wikipedia’s greatest shortcoming comes in the cited sources which are usually hyperlinked to a page source and not the book itself.
This will soon change if the Internet Archive initiative pulls through. The initiative aims to make citation checking much easier by linking them to previews of the book sources being referenced.
The preview of these book sources is a scanned version of the book and can help you confirm if a claim asserted by a Wikipedia article is either credible or not.
While Wikipedia articles are never the go-to site for students and journalists when researching, this may soon change when these preview scans will be made available. This is because even the hard to find books will be made available once the digital previews start to roll out.
With this initiative, book sources will just be a click away but this is only possible after the hard work has been completed. As consumers, we have to appreciate the toil that goes into this initiative. So here’s a glimpse of what is involved…
For Wikipedia to match a million citations to the relevant books, it may take a couple of months. The Internet Archive has already linked about 180,000 citations to 50,000 relevant books.
Another challenging task for Wikipedia will be to cite books using the correct format. This action necessitates the exact page numbers to be specified. While ISBN (International Standard Book Numbers) may ease this work, it is worthy to note that not all books have the number.
Wikipedia has already made strides towards this challenging task. Internet Archive has been successful in digitizing some of the book sources. According to Wired reports, the database already has 3.8 million books that have already been scanned.
The scanning rate of this ambitious project is 10,000 books a day as it hopes to reach its target of 4 million more books.
Another activity that Internet Archive is involved in is to digitize book citations on Wikipedia. This action has been undertaken in an attempt to ensure that information on the database is accurate and can be relied on.
Apart from digitizing citations, scraping of Wikipedia is another means that the initiative uses to promote accuracy. Through this process, broken citations are fixed and replaced. So far, the Internet Archive Bot has cleaned and fixed almost six million broken citations.
The scraping operation by the bot had begun in October.
Based on the extensive work that lies ahead of Wikipedia, we can expect the book scans somewhere next year and we should be excited. Wikipedia will join the likes of JSTOR and EBSCO in helping students in their research.
The cool thing is that if it is on Wikipedia we will all have access. Maybe we wouldn’t need any subscription too unlike in other sites.