“We Cannot Allow a Wikipedia Gap!” in Spontaneous Generations

The new open-access history of science, technology and medicine journal from the University of Toronto, Spontaneous Generations, has its first issue online. I look forward to reading a lot of it; the “focused discussion” on scientific expertise looks very interesting, and both of the peer-reviewed articles look good as well.

Of course, most exciting for me is the publication of my opinion piece, the very first article in the first issue of Spontaneous Generations: “We Cannot Allow a Wikipedia Gap!” (pdf), a call for historians of science, technology and medicine to get involved with Wikipedia.

I’m going to try to work some of this content into Wikipedia (and hopefully others will help), as a way of supporting open content journals. The first one, “An Engineer’s View of an Ideal Society” (pdf), looks like a perfect source for improving Wikipedia’s “C. H. Douglas” and “Social Credit” articles. The second article, “Mothers, Babies, and the Colonial State” (pdf), focuses on health reform in Nigeria from 1925 to 1945 (while it was still a British colony). This is one where it will be tougher to integrate into the existing Wikipedia coverage; there is a short article on “health care in Nigeria“, but no discussion of its history. And that article is one of just two “health care in X” articles for all of Africa (the other is Uganda). There is no article on “health care in Africa”. The history of medicine and public health coverage is also quite slim, making it hard to bridge the gap between the kind of work scholars in those fields do and the kinds of broader coverage that Wikipedia sometimes does well. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any professional historians of medicine or grad students who are active Wikipedians.