<CPOV> CPOV on Wikipedia Signpost

nathaniel tkacz nathanieltkacz at gmail.com
Thu Dec 2 12:09:23 CET 2010

Hi Joseph,

The question of what it means to be critical is indeed an interesting one
and one we have been thinking a bit about in the intro to the reader.

The emic/etic distinction in anthropology certainly resonates with the
distinction we made regarding normative/empirical, although it seems to have
quite a specific history. One can certainly use _academic_ language and
still be a fanboy, and vice versa. I would say that language has a lot to do
with it, but not necessarily academic language. Anybody whose terms don't
align with Wikipedia and whose position is marginalised in the project can
provide a critical perspective. This can also happen from within, but
usually in different ways.

As I said, there is no absolute inside or outside. For me, what's important
is that the very terms of debate are up for grabs, that practices and
knowledges can be described in multiple terms. It's also important to stress
that to be critical is not to reject outright or be totally against. Rather,
I see critique a the site of possibility, as a mode of transformation. That
said, I think that a lot of the current language used to describe Wikipedia
- as the best example of peer production, social media, free culture or
whatever - such as collaboration, openness, participation and so on,
actively work against the ability to provide critical perspectives. I think
it's vital to challenge these terms and build more nuanced perspectives.

For me, the question of critique is also linked to that of power, to making
visible the new modes of force that operate in online projects.


Nate Tkacz

School of Culture and Communication
University of Melbourne

Twitter: http://twitter.com/__nate__

Research Page: http://nathanieltkacz.net

Current project: http://networkcultures.org/wpmu/cpov/about-2/

On Thu, Dec 2, 2010 at 5:33 AM, Joseph Reagle <joseph.2008 at reagle.org>wrote:

> Interesting interview with Johanna and Nate [1]. The question of what it
> means to be "critical" is an interesting one. The response to this question
> seems to indicate it is a matter of language, that is, the distance afforded
> by using academic terminology. Is this an etic/emic distinction then?
> (Normative/empirical as used in the article.) However, one could still be a
> fanboy, and use academic terminology....
> [1]:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2010-11-29/Interview
> _______________________________________________
> cpov mailing list
> cpov at listcultures.org
> http://listcultures.org/mailman/listinfo/cpov_listcultures.org
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