Tagged With wikipedia

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If you like just a little distraction when you start up your browser, if you find Twitter and news sites too in-your-face, but a blank page too mundane, try Wikipedia. Yeah that's right, we just linked to Wikipedia, like it's some obscure site we found. Because if you only end up there through Google results, you might have never noticed their elegant, calming home page.

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At SXSW last week, YouTube's CEO, Susan Wojcicki, told attendees that YouTube will be using information from Wikipedia to complement videos relating to events. In that way, viewers will be able to determine the veracity of the video and to see alternate points of view for controversial subjects. Given the ease with which misinformation spreads, giving people divergent points of view so they can evaluate events seems like a good idea.

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I watched Westworld months after it aired, and I felt lonely; no one still wanted to talk about it. Half the fun of a good work of entertainment - a TV show, a movie, a book, even a podcast or video game - is talking about it, studying it, learning more about it. Any good work of art benefits from study, and a bad work of art benefits from laughing at it with someone.

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Ten years ago, we played around with Six Degrees of Wikipedia, a cute web page that would find the link path between any two Wikipedia pages. Now there's a new visual version, by a different developer, with an updated database. The new Six Degrees of Wikipedia visualises all the shortest paths between any two entries as a network map.

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Wikipedia is great at laying out the cold, hard facts about things, but it often reads as if a computer wrote it. It can be hard to get the "vibe" of a subject. Instead, try TV Tropes. While this specialised wiki mostly focuses on entertainment like movies and TV shows and video games, it also collects "useful notes" about real-world people, places and phenomena.

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Say you're looking up the Möbius strip on Wikipedia and you wonder how it's pronounced. Wikipedia only shows some elaborate pronunciation guide written in the International Phonetic Alphabet. You could start googling it in another tab, but there's an easy way to translate that pronunciation guide into plain English. Just hover over the letters.

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Wikipedia might not always be the most accurate source of information out there, but it is one of those things that I'm constantly thankful is around. You can actually ensure that the site is always there for you, even when you don't have a web connection, by downloading it in its entirety.

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Wikipedia is frequently considered an unacceptable and unreliable source of information. It's been criticised as "a mish-mash of truth, half truth, and some falsehoods". The same sentiment is expressed in many course documents at universities and schools. Here's a compelling argument why you might want to embrace wiki-style sites and leave your prejudice at the door.

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Popular services like Twitter, Dropbox, YouTube and Wikipedia generally have their own apps on various mobile and desktop platforms -- but sometimes third-party developers swoop in and make better alternatives. Here are some prime examples of where the unofficial software works better than the "authorised version".