Thursday, February 7, 2008
Wikipedia and the Dirty Internet
As I read this week's essays, I couldn't help but think of the example of Wikipedia, which seems to nicely fit into many of the ideas we've learned about. The content it provides and the manner in which it does so bears a strikingly close resemblance to Bush's memex. Of course Wikipedia has a collective intelligence as Nelson's Xanadu was proposed to have. However, it is not quite either of these visionary devices as nobody owns articles on Wikipedia (where Nelson wanted to respect copywrights) and at the same time, everyone does as they can edit it if they can improve it (where only one person could improve Bush's device--the owner.) Socially, Wikipedia is a very interesting space. It's definitely a heterotopia--individuals can 'escape' to it to contribute or receive knowledge. Wikipedia has a large community where the more active and more useful contributors are more powerful and respected. The contributors aren't just bored middle aged men-- a NYTimes article (here: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/01/magazine/01WIKIPEDIA-t.html?ex=1341115200&en=9b7c000a66184160&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink) was written about some of these authors, specifically a 16 year old high school student. I think that many of the early visionaries of hypertext had a Wikipedia like service/product in mind. I wonder how much further some of these hypertext supports would support the rest of the Internet that we have today. It's kind of a cesspool of information and misinformation. Are we 'tainting' our shared body of knowledge that Bush would have wanted?