WikiThings

On: October 3, 2007
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About Tjerk Timan
During the last couple of years, I have been involved in Industrial Design at the Technical University of Eindhoven, both on the theoretical as well as the physical/practical side, always working on the boarder between the digital and physical. After an internship at Mediamatic, I wanted to get more involved in the digital side of new media. Currently, I am investigating the complex realm of new media [at] the master course New Media, UvA. With a thesis focus now on ‘objects that blog’ within the context of an internet of things, the challenge is to investigate the agency and influence of things. Especially when these things, being digital or physical, are capable of sharing, posting, editing, deleting content. And on who’s account? Within that same line of thought, the digital is often taking itself for granted maybe too much, where often the step towards WHO and HOW data is manipulated is left out of the loop. Taking these things back into the (design) loop is one of my missions, with the statement in mind that the way content is created and consumed has at least as much importance as the technology driving it. Furthermore, I am currently active within the Digital Methods Initiative at the University of Amsterdam. Also, I do some occasional freelance work, where disciplines differ from web-design to workshops to product design.

Website
http://www.tjerktiman.nl    

This link
and here is another one, on the dutch Wikipedia

is part of a larger research assignment for the masters of media course in amsterdam, where new (and old) media are critically researched, viewed and responded on. Besides a theoretical approach, a very important part of this course is to also to ‘field research’; active generation and involvement in the new media landscape.

Currently, the ‘truth-value’ of wikipedia is researched. Where does knowlegde here come from, and who writes it? is it really the emergent ‘wisdom of the crowd’ or is it just a few nerds editing on everything? By creating semi-false, but true-linked wikipedia entries, one can find out how and how fast articles are checked, re-edited or discarded and, moreover, on what grounds and authority?

Despite the many pro’s and con’s on wikipedia form mainly the academic world (saying its truth-value is worthless, or at least inadequate), it is out there and used widely. The fear exists that knowledge in this way becomes ‘flat’ and can hold back science and knowledge spreading by creating a web of ‘read-believe’. On the other hand one might say that, even if most wikipedias are not your fully-grown academic research, it does get read a lot, spreading a web of common knowledge that may, in my opinion, raise the average of this common knowledge to a wide range of different cultures.

The two different wikipedia entries also represent another thing i am curious at: if localized wikipedia respond with the same speed and in the same manner? The dutch wiki-entry is about a new word, the first is about a dutch event. The first description is true, only some minor ‘fact-bending’ is done. The new-word entry could be true, but is hard to verify (or falsify).

In just one day the results are the following:

In contrast to my expectations, my dutch entry was removed within a day (while my English entry was only asked to be categorized), due to the following reason: “considered work in progress”, verdicted by a certain ArnaudH (a not-even-moderator from wikipedia, with which we as MoM students have encountered more problems these days). See this link for the whole comment.

To not enter the discussion of truth-value within wikipedia, the point I do want to stress out is that a) apparently, ‘local’ wikipedia is checked much sooner than the ‘international’ English part and b) that if so, it is ‘moderated’ by such few people, that one can almost speak of a dictatorialization of knowledge on a local scale; of deciding what is ‘good for wiki’.

Both point are heavily contrasting the goal of Wikipedia, being open, international ‘emergence’ of knowledge. Interested next step would be to check whether the Dutch moderators verify their comments and deleting-of-entries with their larger (thus probably more balanced) English counterpart.

2 Responses to “WikiThings”
  • October 11, 2007 at 10:19 pm

    […] that the concept of hypertext has brought some improvement in at least democratizing the truth (or, did it?). or, on social networking and the participatory web: insanity in individuals is something rare […]

  • October 13, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    Something to take in consideration as well is the rest of cultural differences, except for just the language difference. Research has been done on“Cultural Differences in Collaborative Authoring of Wikipedia”. With conclusions like:
    “people of a country with a high Power Distance Index, such as the French, are likely to feel uncomfortable about deleting others’ work. It is therefore advisable not to expect or require it of them in collaborative online work.”

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