<CPOV> The world according to Jimmy Wales?

Jeanette Hofmann jeanette at wzb.eu
Tue May 25 09:42:26 CEST 2010

Hi all,

I agree with Maja that the universalist notion implicit in Wikipedia's 
self-image is a very interesting topic. Similar claims can be found in 
the context of google books and the idea of a universal library. "The 
world at your fingertips" also seems to play with this theme.

I vaguely remember a very interesting presentation on the history of 
large infrastructure projects. The speaker found that the early days of 
a new infrastructure are often driven by euphoric dreams of getting 
everything and everyone connected to it. He spoke of an 
"Anschlusszwang", a coercion of access.

So, perhaps the universal vision is not that specific to Wikipedia but 
rather a comment element of many Internet related projects. The 
uneasiness some of us feel in the face of such visions may have to do 
with the "imperialist" drive embedded in them on the one hand and the 
suspected marginalization of less codified and visible types of social 
practices and knowledges on the other. Visions of the universal are 
always selective as Maja's presentation showed so beautifully.


Joseph Reagle wrote:
> On Monday, May 24, 2010, Maja van der Velden wrote:
>> Joseph, it's a very interesting topic - i am looking forward to  
>> reading your book! Have you come across this idea that Wikipedia will  
>> save the world?
> Not so boldly as what your article states. (Do you to have a URL to the article?) I end up noting a trend that while the universal encyclopedic vision continues over the course of the century, claims of world peace tend to lessen -- while the probability of a world encyclopedia being created increases because of digital networks.
>> Would be nice if someone remembers where else he said this. And what  
>> doe he mean by "I think Wikipedia has already saved the world"?
> I don't know. And, I don't have a record of any such statement -- and wish I did so I could've included it! :-) Perhaps he is speaking to the founding statement: "Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing." So there has always been a universal and global aspiration at Wikipedia, but I'm not sure what it means to have saved the world, and am surprised that he thinks it has already happened.
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