<CPOV> As a proviso to my presentation --

Jon Awbrey jawbrey at att.net
Thu Mar 18 19:18:14 CET 2010

Lichty, Patrick wrote:
> While Wikipedia as such is a juggernaut and important place to engage in
> a serious cultural battle, I also feel that the phenomenon of wiki-based
> communities, of which Wikipedia is merely one, and the cultiral structures
> that they create, are far more interesting to me than Wikipedia itself.

Patrick & All,

Having participated in several wikioid start up projects
before I ever heard of Wikipedia, and still participating
in a wide variety of similar projects today, I share this
point of view.

The feature of social-technical architecture that most markedly distinguishes
a wiki system is its "erasability".  This is a major boon to people, like me,
who never manage to write anything anywhere near the way it needs to be on
the first 20 or 30 drafts or so.  And its aid to collaboration is clear,
at least, among folks who are capable of genuine dialogue in pursuing
joint work.

The point where erasability becomes a disabling bug in the groupware
is when some participants in a debate discover that they can "win"
arguments simply by deleting the opposing arguments.

Once that happens, even a little, the people who resort to this type of easy win
almost always become hopelessly addicted to it -- it becomes an automatic reflex,
often literally enforced by bots -- inquiry is short-circuited and the "community"
has to be protected by scare-quotes from then on out.

Jon Awbrey


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