DAY I: Bangalore — Session 2: Global Politics of Exclusion

Mark Graham

The invisible: Mark Graham presented geomapping data retrieved from geotagged Wikipedia articles and introduced the idea of digital and spatial palimpsests. With this notion he is made the argument that Wikipedia is (re)editing ways in which we interact culturally, economically and politically with places. Pointing to the uneven geographies (e.g. Africa is poorly represented on Wikipedia), to the uneven directionalities (e.g. French focus on the francophone world) and uneven politics (e.g. edit wars around the naming of the “Persian gulf”), Mark Graham ‘s CPoV was that Wikipedia doesn’t show what it doesn’t know. (For a detailed summary of his findings see his blog). Nishant Shah pointed critically to the notion of a media blackout: “Because it is not talked about on Wikipedia, it does not mean that is not talked about at all.”

Dror Kamir

The ambassador: Dror Kamir talking about “My side, your side and Wikpedia” told us about his experiences of being involved into the discussion about articles dealing with the Middle East conflict to illustrate the tension between ‘objective’ and’ narrative’ knowledge. His CPoV was that the three major Wikipedia rules – No original research, Verifiability and Neutral Point of View – are not hierarchized and thus they don’t help to override the tension between what he called ‘objective’ and ‘narrative’ knowledge. Also, he identified the concept of community autonomy on Wikipedia in terms of language version autonomy to be the key barrier for neutral knowledge production: “Community autonomy is a principle that discourages exchange of information among editors with different worldviews and between opposing groups of editors […]. It often creates pressure on editors to adhere to the narrative community in their societies (assuming they edit in the language of their society.” Drawing on Latour and Annmarie Mol Nate Tkacz argued in the discussion that science can be also a narrative and vice versa – that also the ‘objective’ can be seen as a narrative. Geert Lovink also noted that an international conflict such as the Middle East conflict and the idea of neutral knowledge are themselves in a conflict: Why not to overcome the gap between the article and the discussion space and think about a software that presents the different PoVs on a interface level?

For the presentation’s slides and annotations click here.

Alok Nandi

The creative revisit of Wikipedia: Alok Nandi did not start with the idea of exclusion but with idea of critical distance. His CPoV suggested drawing on existing concepts in order to broaden our perspective on Wikipedia. Wikipedia as meta-narrative (rituals of participation), distortion (extrafiction, layers & causalities) and distributive architecture “from space to place” (design, interface) – such was his suggestion – may help to get a different perspective that focuses not on the politics of exclusion but looks at the politics of inclusion with the Rushdie premise “we are plural, we are partial”. Rejecting inclusion as starting point, Asha Achuthan claimed that we need to understand how Wikipedia itself is engaging in the global politics of exclusion. Beyond that, she said, we also have to look at the other side: To what extent is the experiment Wikipedia providing markers and questions to global politics of exclusion? For instance how is Wikipedia challenging the notion of objectivity?