Editor Generated Content?
I am a passive Wikipediaist, and as of this weekend, I will stick with that role. I use Wikipedia mainly as a source of quick, (semi)reliable information; yet I do not share stronger bonds with this particular cyber institution. I believe that the notion of Wikipedia as a space of open, democratic and participatory knowledge-sharing is exaggerated.
Despite this critical view, I found myself excited about this assignment, thinking of it as a challenge and a way to contribute to a major source of knowledge for people all around the globe. My initial anticipation was slightly strangled when John fired his first warning, informing the class that it might happen that our entries will be altered or even deleted while using the sandbox. And the enthusiasm decreased by another bit when doing the WP: RA search option for an entry that has not yet been made. It was deemed another step closer to impossibility. Worse was yet to come. I hit bottom rock when actually, actively participating in the giant web of wisdom, that is, when writing my entry.
Apart from the fact that hundreds of guidelines, rules, regulations, suggestions, hints, tips and what not predetermine the way in which one can use the medium; the more important question arose as to who is thus left out? Who are the people editing the entries, shaping the intellectual content, and the shape in which it is presented to become the end product that is presented to the user?
Wikipedia Scanner offers users a searchable database that ties millions of anonymous Wikipedia edits to organizations where those edits apparently originated, by cross-referencing the edits with data on who owns the associated block of internet IP addresses
These early forms of questioning open source software point to an important question that asks, how knowledge is created, selected and processed? According to what criteria are guidelines and restrictions set and how do these rules shape the outcome? Even though Wikipedia does an extensive amount of work in answering those questions, they should remain at the back of our head when making use of it.