I am a Wikipedian

On: October 3, 2010
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About Fenneke Mink
Master student New Media & Digital Culture: thesis subject Google Art Project. Finished BA of applied science in Information and Documentation Management (IDM) at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam (HvA). After this I worked as Information manager at ING. Recent working for CBS as Statistic Analist in new media sources. My interest of new media is triggered by initiatives of digitalization projects. In 2009/2010 I have been working at ANP Foundation's project to preserve Dutch cultural heritage of 50.000 news photos form 1963 to 1967. You can have a look at this project via: http://www.anp-archief.nl/ . I also have been involved with http://www.europeana.eu/portal/map.html


This week I posted a Wiki post on the Dutch Wikipedia website about the subject of my interest Digitized Cultural Heritage. Nothing fancy, just a small posting with some definitions and examples followed by a few links. After carefully following the guidelines to use by posting for the first time, I really liked posting my own article. It appeared to be one of the many Web 2.0. or social web experience of happiness and pink fuzzy feelings. Thoughts run through my head like ‘I am a participation of the harnessing of collective intelligence [yeah!]’. There is also another aspect of posting my entry I could really appreciate;  the knowledge and information sharing I am involved in from now on. Unfortunately this feeling did not last very long and made place for an information officer’s dilemma . ‘I am a preserver of an information overload [What have I done]’.  Apparently the information manger woke up inside of me and panicked by the sight of such large of seemingly uncontrolled and over categorized information.

That being said, I noticed that after a few hours of being online, my post got moderated and some small improvements were made by a user called MoiraMoira. The double linked footnote got deleted and the link to the book of the author I was referring to was also deleted for anti commercial and advertising policy reasons I presume.

In comparison to my classmates the adjustments were gentle, most of their postings got brutally corrected or deleted. Which makes me wonder, why did I not get kicked off Wikipedia? I did not aspect to got approved by the moderator, this comes to me as a welcome surprise. It makes me wonder what would have happened if my post would have been deleted.

Still being in my information-manager-modus I look for some answers on the net. Doing so something tells me that there should be a Wikipedia page about this subject. And indeed, as expected from a Web 2.0. mechanism, different creative spurs have been documented. Such there is the Wikipedian song list, a table of songs about Wikipedia. The one I like expresses the feeling that I can imagine when getting kicked off your entry: feeling lost, like others do not recognite your existing. I find the lyrics to be quite funny as well.

These generated user contents give a great look towards the actual Wikipedia community of knowledge sharing users. There are multiple pagers of warnings on how to prevent other negative outcomes of being active on Wikipedia like Wikistress [especially see nr.82 and nr. 133]. And  to make sure a Wikipedian does not become a Wikidrop-out or a Wikiwacko these entries are the way to go.

In evaluating my Wiki entry I can conclude that I applied to the one big criteria issue that Wikipedia is about; relevance.  As seen on The Next Web, relevance is the thing to gain in Web 2.o. land. The subject I choose looks to be relevant for the purpose of an encyclopedia as there was no information about digitized cultural heritage on the Dutch ‘Digital’ Wikipedia page, as there was no referring to cultural heritage here. Visa Versa there is no information on digitizing on the Dutch ‘Cultural Heritage’ Wikipedia page. By bringing those pages together in my entry by linking, I have shown the relation on these subjects and made a positive contribution to the information network Wikipedia actually is.

Even though the modifications that were made to my entry seem small, they do display the effort that is made  in trying to making the entry more objective in order to make Wikipedia an objective encyclopedia. Having a critical point of view though, I wonder why a Web 2.0. initiative being modern and revolutionary in its class like Wikipedia would try to be an old, cold, medium such as an encyclopedia. Can Wikipedia not turn into something new, something defined as a term to be a Wikipedia and not a reshape of the old traditional definition? I am not the only one who has some kind of critique. Alan Shapiro explains that knowledge is based in society and as such Wikipedia not only represents knowledge, but also stupidity. And what most people believe in society is based on accepted clichés. He suggests that we must separate the real knowledge from the clichés and the stupidities. And he tells us that Wikipedia is about the democratization of knowledge and the promise of popular education. Therefore we need to find balance between the consensus culture such as Wikipedia and respect for the work of the scholar who has dedicated a lot of research on particular issues. According to Shapiro a model for balancing these two contributory streams needs to be developed.

The last thing has not been said on this Wikipedia critical point of view let alone for the next meeting will be in March 2011. In the mean time, I will go and explore my new online identity as Wikimedian.

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