<CPOV> Casualty Numero Uno

Jon Awbrey jawbrey at att.net
Mon Jun 14 19:34:12 CEST 2010


You make a number of good points,
but let us not forget that every
war has dealers who, win-or-lose,
gain hand-over-fist from selling
the weapons of "neutralization"
to combatants on every side.

Jon Awbrey

andrew.famiglietti at lcc.gatech.edu wrote:
> Several points of interest to this thread: 
> 1. It is unlikely that these forks of Wikipedia will ever attract significant traffic. Larry Sanger's Citizendium, a fairly well-established parallel encyclopedia project, is ranked by Alexa as the 48,837th most visited website. Wikipedia is the 6th most visited website. Enciclopedia Libre Universal (EL), the product of the famous Spanish Fork of 2002, was outstripped in article production by the Spanish Wikipedia as of 2004. Wikipedia is in the top ten most visited websites in Mexico, Colombia, and Spain. EL does not appear in Alexa listings for the top 100 most visited Websites for these countries. Without traffic, a volunteer based project cannot attract volunteer labor, and thus cannot add and revise content. I wouldn't worry about fragmentation. 
> 2. The other concern, the silencing/marginalization of alternate Points of View by the presence of large, singular sites of content creation and distribution like Wikipedia, I agree is an important one. However, the history of Wikipedia and Wikipedia like projects shows a long list of failures to implement a "marketplace of ideas" model. GNUpedia, an attempt by the FSF to build its own encyclopedia in 2001, imploded after selecting a technologically ambitious plan to build a repository of texts users could filter by their own criteria. You can see its ambitious goals on its sad, dead homepage here: http://gne.sourceforge.net/eng/index.html Wikipedia users batted around plans to build similar "multiple stable versions" in the fall of 2001/spring 2002. None were ever implemented. 
> 3. The above suggests, to me, that the basic metaphor of the "marketplace of ideas," which assumes that individuals are capable of, or even interested in, acting on some intrinsic set of desires to select or build an individual "truth" based on multiple, competing texts is badly flawed. Instead, I believe that we see actors existing in communities, using cues from shared experiences and shared resources to resolve difficult problems of truth for them. In this sense, "battlefields" might be preferable to "marketplaces" as battlefields allow space for competing collectives to maneuver, clash, and sometimes even negotiate! What we might want to do is try to teach and spread the art of reading the battlefield. Wikipedia, especially, preserves a deep record of archeological evidence of the battles fought on its terrain... though it takes considerable skill to read this record. 
> Just my thoughts. 
> - Andy 


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