<CPOV> The world according to Jimmy Wales?

Joseph Reagle joseph.2008 at reagle.org
Tue May 25 14:41:02 CEST 2010

On Tuesday, May 25, 2010, Jeanette Hofmann wrote:
> So, perhaps the universal vision is not that specific to Wikipedia but 
> rather a comment element of many Internet related projects.

I would go so far to say technology in general, though information technology seems particularly susceptible. Here's a paragraph that includes the quote from H. G. Wells I noted earlier, as well as a reference to Sturken and Thomas' "Technological Visions: The Hopes and Fears That Shape New Technologies" 

Furthermore, whereas Wales conceived of his encyclopedia reaching those without access to the Internet, technology is central to the modern version of the vision (Sturken and Thomas 2004). Technology is expected to facilitate a radically accessible resource that bridges the distance between people. As recounted in Tom Standage's history of the telegraph (i.e., the "Victorian Internet"), the "rapid distribution of news was thought to promote universal peace, truthfulness, and mutual understanding." (Standage1999, p. 163). H. G. Wells felt that "Encyclopaedic enterprise has not kept pace with material progress" but when the "modern facilities of transport, radio, [and] photographic reproduction" were embraced the creation of a permanent world encyclopedia would be "a way to world peace": "Quietly and sanely this new encyclopaedia will, not so much overcome these archaic discords, as deprive them, steadily but imperceptibly, of their present reality" (Wells 1937). One can even see the universal vision in a different sort of technology altogether: the airplane. Joseph Corn, in *The Winged Gospel*, tells of high aeronautical expectations. "Air Globes," representations of the earth and its cities without political or geographical boundaries, were deployed in the classroom to tangibly symbolize "the new world which Americans believed the airplane was about to create, a world of peace where national boundaries and topographical features were no longer pertinent" (Corn 1983, p. 129).

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