<CPOV> opinions about wikipedia part 1

nathaniel tkacz nathanieltkacz at gmail.com
Fri Jan 7 00:20:08 CET 2011

i think the blog post is, well, pretty crap. here's why...

"I think the millions of entries in the most popular online encyclopedia,
> which enclose a part of universal knowledge, are to some extents a common
> good which should be preserved."

when are people going to stop talking about universal knowledge?

> "However, I think Wikipedia is the worst example of how the ambition to
> centralize human knowledge in one place, by giving voice to everyone without
> distinction, represents nothing more than a vain illusion."

it doesn't give voice to everyone, BECAUSE there is an element of
"distinction", not of people but words. some words are good and others bad
and this is determined by many many rules.  if we want to be critical, let's
look closely at the rules.

> The user generated content model, which is at the base of encyclopedia’s
> success, has a critical weak point that concerns the accuracy and
> reliability of all that is published on the site.

dude, it's 2011.

> Despite the efforts of moderators, Wikipedia is full of incorrect or
> inaccurate entries and often, people who consult its pages ignore this
> problem and assume to be true their content.

i agree that many people use wikipedia with the assumption that the info is
correct. when i was talking to extended family over the break, they all used
wikipedia but had very little idea about how it was made. this is not a
problem with wikipedia. it's a problem about "digital" literacy.

> In this “factory of knowledge”, moderators exert an immense power by
> performing the role of the “sheriffs” of universal knowledge. They filter
> submitted content and decide what can be published and what can’t.

hmm... the author has changed position. above he writes "despite the efforts
of moderators..." but now their efforts to ensure accuracy is depicted as
draconian. it's almost as if their are different kinds of "moderators", some
better than others. ;)

> The question is, who among them has the adequate background to assess the
> merits of a specific topic? And which is the objective criterion used for
> evaluating the accuracy of entries?

surely if you're going to critique wikipedia, it can't be done by asking
"where is the objectivity?". it is exactly this linguistic hangover from old
school science that is the problem. the criteria of evaluation, which is
actually very sophisticated and interesting in terms of a reimagining of
Enlightenemnt, is both what makes the encyclopaedia possible and how
violences on other, let's say "subjugated knowledges" (following foucault),
are performed. the first question is more interesting. wikipedia attempts a
full disconnection between knowledge and individual knower. it is knowledge
that has achieved full discoursivity - validated only via reference to other
discourse. that is to say, despite its best attempts to retain a
romanticized, enlightened individual subject "who knows", wikipedia is fully

> It’s for this lack of accuracy that, in spite of the enormous success
> achieved, Wikipedia will never be a true compendium of human knowledge but,
> at most, nothing but a ephemeral surrogate for the universal knowledge.

it is for this lack of accuracy and knowledge about wikipedia, that this
blog post will never be a success.

from sunny melbourne, happy new year cpov!

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 Fri, Jan 7, 2011 at 6:52 AM, Geert Lovink <geert at xs4all.nl> wrote:
> (let's make a marathon, who sends part 2?)
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> cpov at listcultures.org
> http://listcultures.org/mailman/listinfo/cpov_listcultures.org
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