The Collaborative Web: Rome!

Three related Wikipedia pages I chose to analyze were three of Roman’s most iconic monuments (being such an art history lover!): Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon. Starting with the Colosseum, the first link that comes up when searching ‘Colosseum’ on Google is Wikipedia. There is an extensive history discussing its history, its architectural features, restoration, its popularity in Rome and its ultimate significance within the heart of Italy. I was very surprised when looking into the “talk” section and noticing more than fifteen sections where changes by various users were enforced! One of them being the discussion of the type of columns used. Apparently, there was an error in the original Wikipedia page in stating that the columns that made up the arcades were “Tuscan, Ionic and Corinthian” where in reality instead of Tuscan it is “Doric” columns. The user that suggested this change gave the name of a book by Sebastiano Serlio and also a link to the Britannica page. I really appreciate how Wikipedia is determined in finding and posting reliable sources for the general public. This column change is one of many suggested changes. Another example is the difference between sand and concrete and furthermore edited to be changed to “travertine, tuff and brick-faced concrete” in specific backed up by a scholarly article.

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I remember more than one time for one of my introductory art history courses, I searched up this monument to study for my exam on the section about its significance in relation to Rome and I found it very helpful and easy to understand. At this time I was not aware of the “talk” sections, but now I know Wikipedia is fixed on being up to date providing reliable information that in reality I had nothing to worry about!

Moving on to the Trevi Fountain: (this is definitely one of the monuments I am most excited to visit for its iconic global recognition) to my surprise the Wikipedia page on the Trevi Fountain provides a rather short history and only about four topics (“iconography, restoration, coin throwing, and design & commission”). I was really expecting a lengthy historical overview and added sections such as significance, architectural interior and exterior analysis, etc. I say this because in my introductory art history course (ancient to contemporary) whenever we came across a Roman or Greek monument, we would analyze its architectural features in relationship to its significance within its location. Moreover, discussion on its architecture and iconography would give way to topics such as religion and politics which proved to be highly interesting! Reading the talk section on the Trevi Fountain, I found about ten sections that Wikipedia has not approved or disapproved and these suggested changes range from the years 2004-2013 and there is no response listed by Wikipedia which is quite odd. I have noticed that many of the users have not provided any type of source, I think one of them has a link to the New York Times, could this be why? I will definitely have to keep my eye on this to check future updates!

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Last but not least, we have the Pantheon:) As assumed, the Wikipedia page on the Pantheon has a comprehensive list of 12 topics under the Contents list (including notes, footnotes, links, and references). The talk section is somewhat sparse and considerable. Again, the debate discussions range from 2004-2017 and there is no approval by Wikipedia acknowledging the information. Similarly, users have no added any type of source to support their argument. What I really like about these “talk” sections are the different types of perspectives offered that hasn’t been thought before. It triggers further research and I think that’s what makes Wikipedia so remarkable. As previously mentioned, as an undergrad at UConn, some of my professors were skeptical on using Wikipedia as a viable source, although they did suggest it was helpful for a quick overview of a topic I still couldn’t use it as a source for research papers because of its supposed “inauthenticity” on its sources. Now, learning about Wikipedia in depth, I have to disagree because I think Wikipedia is a reliable source – the key is to trace sources to its grassroots and verify that they are indeed credible (now that I’m taking a Historiography course, I’m learning that this is one the most essential tasks historians must do to accurately check and make use of sources). I think educational and corporate institutions should definitely  give Wikipedia a chance because there’s so much valuable and intriguing information waiting to be discovered!

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