Literature/2010/Reagle

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Reagle Jr., Joseph Michael (2010). Good Faith Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia. MIT Press.

Authors[edit]

  • Adjunct Professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University.
  • Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School

Keywords[edit]

Adapted by  KYPark [T] 23:00, 9 July 2011 (UTC) from http://books.google.com/books?id=ml7SlTq8XvIC

Common terms and phrases

accessed April accessed August accessed December accessed January accessed June accessed March accessed May 29 accessed November accessed October accessed September administrators ArbCom argue argument Assume Good Faith authority benevolent dictator Benkler bias Blog Britannica chapter Citizendium Clay Shirky collaborative culture conflict consensus contributors critics decision Digital Maoism discussion Documentation edit editors Encyclopédie English Wikipedia example FOSS free software Gorman Guidelines http://en.wiki http://en.wikipedia humor hypertext IETF Internet Interpedia Jimbo Jimmy Wales July knowledge Larry Sanger leadership Maoism Meatball norms notes notion NPOV Nupedia Nupedia and Wikipedia one’s online communities open content open content community participants Paul Otlet pedia Press Project Gutenberg Project Xanadu Rayward reference Richard Stallman role social Stallman tion understanding universal encyclopedia users vandalism voting Wales’s Ward Cunningham wiki WikiChix wikien-l Wikimedia Foundation Wikipe Wisdom of Crowds World Brain wrote Yochai Benkler York

Keyword search statistics[edit]

Manually searched by  KYPark [T] 04:09, 10 July 2011 (UTC) using the search slot on the above Google Books page. [c 1]
 11 World Brain
 11 Project Xanadu
 12 Project Gutenberg
 12 World Wide Web [1] 
 12 Citizendium 
 12 Encyclopédie
 14 Interpedia
 25 Britannica
 34 Nupedia
 39 universal encyclopedia

 41 World Encyclopedia
100 Wikipedia
  3 Vannevar Bush
  5 Richard Stallman
  6 Yochai Benkler
  6 Ted Nelson
  9 Paul Otlet
  9 Boyd Rayward [c 2]
 10 Michael Gorman
 10 Ward Cunningham
 14 Clay Shirky
 18 Larry Sanger

 23 H. G. Wells
 42 Jimmy Wales
  7 Bush
  8 Stallman
  8 Benkler
 11 Rayward
 12 Nelson
 14 Gorman
 15 Cunningham
 16 Shirky
 25 Otlet
 29 Sanger

 31 Wells
 71 Wales [c 3]

Excerpts[edit]

  • Wikipedia is not merely an online multilingual encyclopedia; although the Web site is useful, popular, and permits nearly anyone to contribute, the site is only the most visible artifact of an active community. Unlike previous reference works that stand on library shelves distanced from the institutions, people, and discussions from which they arose, Wikipedia is both a community and an encyclopedia. And the encyclopedia, at any moment in time, is simply a snapshot of the community's continuing conversation. This conversation frequently exasperating, often humorous, and occasionally profound. Most importantly, it sometimes reveals what I call a good faith collaborative culture. Wikipedia is a realization -- even if flawed -- of the historic pursuit of a universal encyclopedia: a technology-inspired vision seeking to wed increased access to information with greater human accord. (p. 1)
  • ... Wikipedia culture encourages contributors to treat and think of others as well. For example, participants are supposed to abide by the norm of "Wikiquette," which includes the guidelines of "Assume Good Faith" (AGF) and "Please Do not Bite the Newcomers."6 Such Wikipedia norms and their relationship to the technology, discourse, and vision of a universal encyclopedia prompt me to ask: How should we understand this community's collaborative -- "Good faith" -- culture? In the following chapters I offer my understanding on this question, but, first, an introduction. (p. 3)
  • When I speak of Wikipedia I am referring to a wiki project, which includes both the textual artifact and the community producing it. (This is a common usage, as is referring to Web sites without a definite article, that is "I searched Google and Wikipedia" not "I searched the Google and the Wikipedia.") Furthermore, there is a particular vision of access and openness at Wikipedia, as seen in its slogan as "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit." This vision, the encyclopedia, and its community and culture are introduced in the sections that follow. (p. 3)
  • The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization under which Wikipedia and its related projects operates, asks the reader to "Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That's our commitment."7 However, this commitment is not unique to the new millennium. Indeed, Wikipedia's heritage can be traced back to Paul Otlet's Universal Repertory and H. G. Wells's proposal for World Brain (included in a 1937 book of the same title). These projects were conceived as furthering increased access to information: facilitated by the (then relatively novel) technologies of the index card, loose-leaf binder, and microfilm. However, this vision exceeds the production of information. Wells proposed that reference work compilers would be joined by world scholars and international technocrats to produce a resource that every student might easily access, in a personal, inexpensive, and portable format. Furthermore, this collection of the world's intellect was envisioned to yield a greater sense of unity: Wells hoped that such an encyclopedia could solve the "jig-saw puzzle" of global problems by bringing all the "mental wealth of our world into something like a common understanding"; this would be more than an educational resource, it would be an institution of global mediation.8 Wikipedia shares this concern for "the sum of all knowledge" with early visionaries. And while no one argues that Wikipedia will bring about world peace, I do argue goodwill is necessary to its production and an occasional consequence of participation. (pp. 3-4)
  • However, while most early Wikipedians were probably unaware of these predecessors from a century ago there was a more immediate inspiration: Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). One of the earliest news articles about Nupedia, Wikipedia's non-wiki progenitor, notes: "The philosophy of the open-source movement is spreading within the industry. Now, a maker of a Web-based encyclopedia wants to apply its principles to share knowledge in general."9 Nupedia described itself as "the open content encyclopedia" and was available under the GNU Free Documentation License. (GNU is a seminal free software project.) FOSS is licensed to enable users to read and improve on the source of the software they use. This has proven to be a much noted alternative to proprietary software in which one's usage can be restricted (e.g., unable to backup, install multiple couples, repair, or improve). When I emailed Jimmy Wales to ask about the influence of FOSS on his thinking, he replied:
    In general what I can say is that Nupedia was absolutely inspired by the free software movement. I spent a lot of time thinking about online communities and collaboration, and one of the things that I noticed is that in the humanities, a lot of people were collaborating in _discussions_, while in programming, something different was going on. People weren't just talking about programming, they were working together to build things of value.10
    Consequently, the inspiration for a free and open source encyclopedia -- in terms of access, cost, and collaboration -- might be thought of as the most recent state of a long-running pursuit. (p. 4)
  • Wikipedia is the wiki-based successor to Nupedia and its name is a portmanteur of "wiki," an online collaborative editing tool, and "encyclopedia," itself a contraction of the Greek enkyklios and paidei, referring to the "circle of learning" of the classical liberal arts. This name is evidence of a geeky sort of linguistic humor and also prompts the question of whether a relatively open-to-all wiki can also be a high-quality reference work. In the following pages I return to these points but for now let's consider the wiki and encyclopedic aspects of the thing we call Wikipedia. (pp. 4-5)
  • Wikipedia is an online wiki-based encyclopedia. "Wiki wiki" means "super fast" in the Hawaiian language, and Ward Cunningham chose the name for his collaborative WikiWikiWeb software in 1995 to indicate the ease with which one could edit pages. (He learned of the word during his first visit to Hawaii when he was initially confused by the direction to take the "Wiki Wiki Bus," the Honolulu airport shuttle.11) In a sense, the term wiki captures the original conception of the World Wide Web as both a browsing and editing medium; the latter capability was largely forgotten when the Web began its precipitous growth and the most popular clients did not provide their users with the ability to edit Web pages. (p. 5)
  • The wiki changed this asymmetry by placing the editing functionality on the server. consequently, if a page can be read, it can be edited in any browser. With a wiki, the user enters a simplified markup into a form on a Web page. (p. 5)
  • The application of the wiki platform with a few encyclopedic features enables surprisingly sophisticated content creation.15 And, as we will see throughout this book, wikis often are thought of as potent collaborative tools because they permit asynchronous, incremental, and transparent contributions from many individuals. Yet, as is often the case, the consequence of this quick and informal approach of editing the Web was not foreseen -- or, rather, was pleasantly surprising. Wikipedia is the populist offshoot of Nupedia, started in March 2000 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger. Nupedia's mission was to create a free encyclopedia via rigorous expert review under a free documentation license. Unfortunately, this process moved rather slowly and, having recently been introduced to wikis, Sanger persuaded Wales to set up a scratchpad for potential Nupeida content where anyone could contribute. However, there was "considerable resistance on the part of Nupedia's editors and reviewers to the idea of associating Nupedia with a wiki-style website. Sanger suggested giving the new project its own name, Wikipedia, and Wikipedia was soon launched on its own domain, wikipedia.com. on 15 January 2001."16 (p. 6)
  • I conclude with a reflection upon H. G. Wells's complaint of the puzzle of wasted knowledge and global discord. Seventy years later, Wikipedia's logo is that of a not yet complete global jigsaw puzzle. This coincidence is representative of a shared dream across the decades. The metaphor of the puzzle if useful in understanding Wikipedia collaboration: NPOV ensures that we can join the scattered pieces of what we think we know and good faith facilitates the actual practice of fitting them together. (p. 15)
  • Creating a world encyclopedia, much less world peace, is a difficult task and the trivia found on Wikipedia is a source of delight to some and derision to others. Nonetheless, the coupling of increased information access with human accord is along-held dream. While its advocates are sometimes overly exuberant they can also be pragmatic, as seen in Wales's 2004 "Letter from the Founder":
    Our mission is to give freely the sum of the world's knowledge to every single person on the planet in the language of their choice, under a free license, so that they can modify, adapt, reuse, or redistribute it, at will. And, by "every single person on the planet," I mean exactly that, so we have to remember that much of our target audience is not yet able to access the Internet reliably, if at all .... Our community already comes from a huge variety of backgrounds, and over time the variety will only increase. The only way we can coordinate our efforts in an efficient manner to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves, is to love our work and to love each other, even when we disagree. Mutual respect and a reasonable approach to disagreement are essential ... on this incredible ridiculous crazy fun project to change the world.
        None of us is perfect in these matters; such is the human condition. But each of us can try each day, in our editing, in our mailing list posts, in our irc [Internet Relay] chats, and in our private emails, to reach for a higher standard than the Internet usually encourages, a standard of rational benevolence and love.3
    (p. 18)
  • In Germany Wilhelm Ostwald (1853-1932) invested much of the award from his Nobel Prize for Chemistry in Die Brücke ("The Bridge"), an international institute he cofounded for organizing intellectual work across the world. Emanuel Goldberg (1881-1970), once a student of Ostwald's, advanced imaging technologies and developed a "Statistical Machine" by which microfilm records could be indexed and subsequently retrieved. (p. 20)
  • One can trace Wikipedia's heritage back to this period. as seen most clearly in the writings of two twentieth-century visionaries: Paul Otlet and H. G. Wells. (p. 20)

Wikimedia[edit]

w: Good Faith Collaboration

Chronology[edit]

Reviews[edit]

  • Madrigal, Alexis (2010). "In Rancorous Times, Can Wikipedia Show Us How to All Get Along?". The Atlantic (October 19, 2010). [2]
  • Kowinski, William (2010). "Good Faith Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia." North Coast Journal (December 30, 2010). [3]
  • Lee, Humphreys (2011). "Good Faith Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia." Journal of Communication (1 April 2011) 61(2): E1–E4. [4]
  • Doctorow, Cory (2010). "Good Faith Collaboration: How Wikipedia Works." Boing Boing (December 20, 2010). [5]

Comments[edit]

  1. The frequency of some keywords may not well match with the blue font size above this statistics for no known reason.
  2. An Wikipedia page on his profile is needed in this context.
  3. It is a fun to note that Wales sounds similar to Wells. (^_^)

Reviews[edit]

Comments[edit]


Notes[edit]

  1. "The World Wide Web is like an encyclopaedia .... " ---- The opening passage of Gillies, James & Robert Cailliau (2000) How the Web Was Born, Oxford University Press. ("What is the World Wide Web?" p. 1).
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Gradient-optical-illusion.svg
The shade of the bar looks invariant in isolation but variant in context, in (favor of) sharp contrast with the color gradient background, hence an innate illusion we have to reasonably interpret and overcome as well as the mirage. Such variance appearing seasonably from context to context may not only be the case with our vision but worldview in general in practice indeed, whether a priori or a posteriori. Perhaps no worldview from nowhere, without any point of view or prejudice at all!

Ogden & Richards (1923) said, "All experience ... is either enjoyed or interpreted ... or both, and very little of it escapes some degree of interpretation."

H. G. Wells (1938) said, "The human individual is born now to live in a society for which his fundamental instincts are altogether inadequate."