Background information about the WikiWars event and Wikipedia Research Initiative can be accessed here.
Additionaly, the WikiWars’ program booklet is available online in pdf format.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Global Politics of Exclusion
Critique of Free and Open
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Wikipedia and Education
Wikipedia and the Place of Resistance
Wikipedia and Critique of Western Knowledge
Wikipedia and Art
9.00–12.15 > SESSION 1 >
Besides providing a general overview of the topics to come, and with an emphasis on diverse global approaches, the aim here is to develop concepts that could be used in further research and that could fit into larger projects on the internet culture and the critique of the free and open. Is it possible to develop a counter-hegemony of critical practices that situates itself in the midst of technological cultures? What kind of critical lessons does Wikipedia provide in the face of overwhelming Web 2.0 hype and P2P utopianism? How can a radical Wikipedia critique be developed that does not present itself as the
cynical ‘I told you so’ outsider or mimic the neo-conservatist position of Andrew Keen? What kind of insight can Wikipedia offer regarding the continuing tension between knowledge and information?
Moderator: Geert Lovink (NL)
Shunling Chen (TW/US)
Wikipedia – A republic of science democratized?
This paper seeks to understand Wikipedia as a site for the reorientation of knowledge and power through the intricate relationships between knowledge, technology, and legal/social order which surfaced
with its emergence. It has borrowed analytical tools from STS to show that Wikipedia has tried to offer a new network for making reference works, and has done boundary-work to show that it is a credible
and viable alternative to traditional encyclopedias.
Stuart Geiger (US)
The Wisdom of Bots: A Critique of ‘Self-Organization’ in Wikipedia
This paper argues that a significant amount of Wikipedia’s underlying social and epistemic structure should be attributed to a heterogeneous network of automated and semi-automated computer programs, user interface enhancements, and other tools used by Wikipedians. As a case study, it examines the process of ‘vandal fighting’ in Wikipedia and traces in detail the case of identifying an anonymous user as a vandal and subsequently blocking the user from editing. The paper focuses on the user’s edits and the various
actors in the process—humans, bots and assisted editing tools deployed in order to enable a form of decentralized collaboration.
The findings have stark implications for those who would embrace Wikipedia as an inherent library or critical space for the un-coerced production of knowledge. At first, it is tempting to use these findings
to bolster support for Wikipedia, showing that it is indeed on par with traditional sources of knowledge production. However, what is the cost of such a response, especially regarding the ideals of freedom
and openness that have surrounded Wikipedia?
Beatriz Cintra Martin (BR)
Wikipedia and the reinvention of authorship through digital media
This analysis attempts to include the technological platforms that provide the support base for discursive production in each historical period, or ‘writing spaces’—to adopt the concept Jay Bolter uses to define the interaction between the material properties of each support base and social practices surrounding the appropriation of writing. The hypothesis is that Wikipedia represents a new model of authorship for our times that, in turn, is linked to the way discursive production is socially validated.
Wikipedia is, quite evidently, a site of dispute where meaning is negotiated, where a wide range of sectors of society participate in critical definitions of content. To what extent this process is made up of pressures and limitations is a matter that still calls for more research.
Dipti Kulkarni (IN)
Wikipedia: A Social Semiotics Perspective
This paper looks at Wikipedia from a communications and linguistic perspective and argues that language in Wikipedia is used exclusively for information. It is also argued that not only does Wikipedia provide information but it does so while suppressing the interpersonal strand of language. The paper draws on the disciplines of Communications and Linguistics for its study of Wikipedia. The first part outlines some of the ways in which the communicative context has been conceptualized and discusses the features of the context specific to Wikipedia. Wikipedia is seen here, as an instance of technologyengendered,
deferred communication where the goal is exclusively to provide information. In the next section, a basic stylistic analysis is done to show how the text is impacted by and encodes aspects of the communicative context and to point to the linguistic choices adopted by the genre in order to exclusively convey information. The last part shows in more formal terms how the interpersonal component of language is suppressed in Wikipedia.
The analysis is based on introductions to the following eight Wikipedia entries, each of which was randomly picked from different sections of Wikipedia’s featured content: The Lucy Poems, The Manila
Light Rail Transit System, Lung Cancer, Forest Park, Edward Wright (mathematician), Jupiter, Barack Obama, and Ganesha. The Simple Concordance Program (SCP) was used for analysis.
13.15-15.00 > SESSION 2
Global Politics of Exclusion
Tyranny of the connected: In societies which are compounded by digital and participation divides, the connected usually always win over those who don’t have access and time to spare. Gendered Knowledge:
While women are strongly represented among readers, globally, they are hardly represented among contributors. In offlist chats, women express that they do not feel comfortable when contributing
to Wikipedia conversations. They even felt silenced by the perception of Wikipedia as a masculine tech culture. Some women have already created an alternative space of discussion at wikichix.org. Does the separation of discussion spaces and the marginalization of domestic issues and social impacts on Wikipedia turn back time?
Morality laundering: Moral standards that exist in one country are being exported to other countries via Wikipedia. For example, photorealistic images of human bodies on pages dealing with sexuality and anatomy are being replaced with drawings. Does this type of common denominator approach undermine the pluralism of global sexuality? The call and eventual refusal of image censorship for the entry on Mohammad represents a similar scenario.
Language diversity: Despite the self-imposed normative claim of language diversity and the self-description of Wikipedia as a truly multi-lingual project, English is the Lingua Franca in translingual meta projects and policy discussions. Also on the level of content, is the English Wikipedia the ‘Leitmedium’ in terms of (content) synchronisation. In what other ways does the language divide operate on
Global governance: Governance of Wikipedia has evolved and become increasingly sophisticated to match its phenomenal growth and the attention it has garnered. While these changes in governance have managed to sustain the growth of Wikipedia and prevent its credibility from being undermined, there is a need to understand the impact that various governance mechanisms have on the different incarnations of Wikipedia throughout the world. Such analysis should consider separately (and compare) different national chapters, plus extend beyond Wikipedia projects to the governace of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Moderator: Asha Achuthan (IN)
Mark Graham (UK)
Wiki Space–Palimpsests and the Politics of Exclusion
This paper makes the argument that there are three core reasons the Wikipedia is anything but a floating layer of information, or a global component of the palimpsests of place. That is, Wikipedia
is characterised by uneven geographies, uneven directionality and uneven politics. This paper will thus detail the abilities of Wikipedia to influence the palimpsets of place in three ways. First, as a database
of all geo-tagged articles in the encyclopaedia is examined in order to visualise the distinct geographies of Wikipedia. Some parts of the world are characterised by highly dense virtual representations, while
others have essentially become virtual terra incognita. Second, the geographies of some of the language editions are looked at in order to explore the distinct directions in which information can flow in
the encyclopaedia. Finally, through a few case studies, some of the politics and power relationships of representation within Wikipedia are highlighted.
The paper concludes on the note that Wikipedia, at least the English language version, is often presented as having exhausted potential topics. Much work has gone into examining bias in the content that already exists, but maybe more focus is needed on the information that simply isn’t there.
Alok Nandi (CD/BE)
Constructing WikiHeroes–A Case Study of an Indian Auteur and His Presence/Demise on the Wikipedia
This paper builds up on the Bangalore discussions and the further research triggered by these and will throw light on whether the Wikipedia is a meta-narrative? The case study also focuses on the oeuvre
of the auteur Ray along with an analysis on how it is misbalanced in terms of description of frameworks, of discourses will lead to questioning an aesthetic eco-system.
Dror Kamir (IL)
Side, your Side and Wikipedia—the tension between neutral information and narrative knowledge on Wikipedia demonstrated with articles about the Middle East conflict
It is assumed that while many editors of Wikipedia adhere to the notion that knowledge is better reflected if individually held portions of knowledge were put together to form a unified corpus. However, some of the policies currently governing the work on Wikipedia are not in line with this notion, as they seem to give some precedence to narratives and culturally influenced views on the account of informative texts written in a universal approach.
This article discusses the lack of hierarchy among the three basic principles of Wikipedia, which allows some manipulation by editors in the aforementioned direction, and the principle of community autonomy
which creates secluded corpora of knowledge within Wikipedia based on examples taken from articles related to the Middle East conflict on the Arabic, Hebrew and English Wikipedias.
15.15-16.45 > SESSION 3
Critique of Free and Open
Vacuous collaboration: Master concepts like freedom and openness are at constant risk of remaining empty or constituting an ‘empty signifier’. The failure to fill such concepts has lead to many descriptions
of Wikipedia as ‘collaborations’ or even ‘ad hoc meritocracies’ (Alex Bruns). Both these second-tier notions also tend to mask the reconfiguration of the political and new forms of closure.
Paid and voluntary community manipulation: Many Wikipedians hold strong opinions on a range of sensitive areas including identity, religion,science, politics, culture, and use sophisticated techniques such as astro-tufing on Wikipedia. Additionally, some states, corporations and organized religious groups sometimes pay specialists to engage in astro-turfing in order to remove critical opinions and rewrite information from Wikipedia.
Topics may include: the parasite model of free culture (‘You work for free, others will make the money from your free labour.’), governance, the role of developers, economy of Wikipedia, the beliefs of the
founders as the political foundation of Wikipedia, critical interrogation of knowledge in relation to ‘the open’.
Moderator: Sunil Abraham (IN)
Linda Gross (DE)
Wikipedia: Openness, Egalitarianism and the Emergence of Structures
Free and Open seem to be the signifying revolutionary characteristics of the FLOSS movement and also of the Open Content Movement. Originating from the communities’ self-description, these concepts have entered public and scientific discourse, This talk contributes to the conceptualization of openness in Wikipedia by analysing it on the level of practice and on the level of ideology. Employing a qualitative sociological framework, it focuses on the methods users of Wikipedia apply, i.e. their routine practices of ‘Doing Wikipedia’, explaining what structures in Wikipedia like ideology, norms and rules mean to users and their action.
Heather Ford (ZA)
Current research into critiques of Creative Commons
This research paper poses the question of wheter we are trying to use the CC solution (which was designed for a very particular purpose in a very specific context) to solve a series of very different problems faced by people in the Global South. The author’s aim is to use the Creative Commons license data to develop a series of visualisations to understand why Creative Commons isn’t being adopted by certain communities by remixing current visualisations and analytics to develop a more global view of open licensing trends according to GDP, internet penetration, education levels etc. Using this data, it poses the questions: What particular economic and cultural contexts are necessary for Creative Commons licenses to be successful? How does the design and development of the license suite affect its target audience? And if we were to approach specific problems faced by creators in the Global South in designing new solutions, how different would the result be?
Elad Wieder (IL)
Communities vs. Markets—The dissonance within growing free and open projects
This paper looks at the question of wheter a project based on a community of volunteers stays viable while striving to be genuinely open and free? The relevance of this question rises as the free/open movement evolves from software to content. It also distinguishes between differnt types of projects pertaining to use free and/or open standards, based on triple criteria related to the creation and evolution of such projects.
Nathaniel Tkacz (AU)
Force is not binary – the implications of open politics
This presentation explores the reemergence of openness as a political concept, which both resonates with and differs from Popper’s. The genealogy of this second coming commences with the hacker geek computer cultures of the late 70s and 80s where it manifests specifically as Open Source software, through to the numerous Open Projects (Open Access Publishing, Open Education, Open Hardware, etc.) associated with online network cultures and eventual general deployment in institutional politics. While the paper acknowledges the real force of this concept as a rallying tool, it eventually argues via a reconsideration of Popper as well as the projects mentioned above, that the open suffers a constitutional poverty: it tells us nothing about the relations of force that emerge under its name.
9.00-10.30 > SESSION 4
Wikipedia and Education
Knowing about knowing: While technologies like newspapers, television, radio and cinema have given birth to educational institutions that engage in media studies, thereby providing tools for the discerning
citizen-consumer and future professional, there is still much work required to develope similar critical models for emerging projects like Wikipedia. The common institutional (non)response to warn against
the ‘dangers’ of Wikipedia-like projects and discourage or ban their use seems grossly indadequate. The rise of ‘prosumers’ suggests a need for new ‘production literacies’ in addition to the traditional ‘consumption literacy’. Furthermore, there is also a growing number of meta projects on Wikipedia that sek cooperation with schools and academia. But is the Wikimedia foundation and select national bodies the legitimate actors to teach media literacy or is this rather a public relations effort? What would Wikipedia literacy entail?
Moderator: Nishant Shah (IN)
Usha Raman (IN)
Definitive references and disruptive locations? The Wikipedia as a school teaching-learning resource
This discussion paper considers the ways in which collaborative knowledge production and their existence within an essentially disruptive medium can alter the dynamics of instructional spaces, particularly at the secondary school level, where use of the Internet as a reference source begins to take on importance. The paper will draw on a variety of perspectives across learner and educator groups along with existing literature to explore the influence of interactive (or seemingly interactive) sources of information on the politics of knowledge creation, definition, consumption and validation.
Nupoor Rawal & Srikiet Tadepalli (IN)
Problems of authenticity in experiential information on the English Wikipedia
The article argues that a large portion of Wikipedia includes detailed articles about national, regional and local practices. The drawback in the Wikipedia model (user-contributes -> admin/experienced user/
subject expert-verifies -> article becomes an information authority) lies in characteristic of the ‘peer to peer’ dissemination of information. Here, instead of destabilizing the notion of a central information
authority, which Wikipedia strives to do by enabling every consumer of knowledge to have a stake in its production, it merely recreates smaller centres. This process is problematic since nationality, ethnicity,
etc. are given parameters that enable privilege of authenticity to people who provide information. Their subjective experience gets mapped onto a seemingly neutral, informative article.
11.45-13.30 > SESSION 5
Wikipedia and the Place of Resistance
Can Wikipedia be said to be a social movement itself and/or how do social movement actors appropriate Wikipedia to build alternatives? Why do people resign from Wikipedia? Are critical voices silenced
by the majority of the mass? Does the exclusion of the Wikipedia Art project reveal that within Wikipedia there is no place for contesting forms, repertoires, and styles that go beyond linguistic approaches?
Rituals and mechanisms of exclusion offer critical insights into the contemporary status of resistance formation in an paradigmatic age of diversity and inclusion. Going beyond and extending the thinking
of social movement scholars such as Touraine or Melucci, the study of Wikipedia might inform culture and identity approaches of social movement studies and vice versa.
Moderator: Amie Perry (TW)
William Buetler (US)
Wikipedia’s Open Door and Closing Window
The article argues about the vast disparity between the average Internet user’s dependence on Wikipedia for information and the relative understanding of how Wikipedia actually works. The article also points out that for all its ambiguity, few people know that Wikipedia literacy is surprisingly low and that the separation between the number of people who read Wikipedia every month and the number of people who contribute is vast and that this pains many long time Wikipedia supporters.
Eric Ilya Lee (TW)
Re-appropriating Wikipedia: Lazy People’s Archives
The article argues that while Chinese wikipedian content when compared to English wikipedia, may still have a long way to go, a way of using Chinese wikipedian content is tactically important in carving
new media user-generated content’s is tactically important in carving usage is ‘LPA, Lazy People’s Archive’, a kind of content protocol for rapidly wrapped related (and unrelated, sometimes) articles, images and videos and usually organized in chronicled order and that from the local perspective, wikipedian entries are especially functioning as LPAs when controversial events happen and are appropriated by netizens.
Zona Yi-Ping Tsou (TW)
Resistance, Reluctance and Reticence: Why Taiwan does not like Wikipedia
This research raises the issue of the relatively inactive Wikipedia community in Taiwan and proposes a contextualized account for such reticence. The author makes the bold claim that the reticence of youth could be seen as an empowering illustration of subcultural resistance and a critique of the paradigm of Wikipedia, or perhaps, even of the universalized formation of knowledge production that does not take regional and cultural contingency into account.
14.30-16.30 > SESSION 6
Wikipedia and Critique of Western Knowledge Production
The persistence of almost buried master-narratives: The Western tradition of Enlightenment tends to permeate both common and official understandings of knowledge on Wikipedia. Mirroring the
Enlightenment itself, Wikipedia both offers a very particular type of knowledge and simultaneously makes claims upon the universal e.g. in the formulation of visionary goals, structure of articles, author
positions, writing style, categorization of entries, conflict resolution models and so on. The ways in which such ideals persist and continue to bear their mark on the present in often subtle ways requires
further attention. Indeed, the ‘grand narratives’ of the Enlightenment that Jean-Françis Lyotard claimed had retreated with the emergence of ‘computerized societies’ continue to inform the popular imaginary
in ways largely untouched by the deconstructive moment. Frederic Jameson once referred to this as the ‘persistence of buried master narratives’, a ‘political unconscious’ that guides decisions irrespective
of philosophical status. Likewise, this resonates with Foucault’s urge ‘to reveal a positive unconscious of knowledge’ as that which performs the task of subjulgation but operates beyond contention. What matters here is not truth or belief, but operation.
The predominance of textual or even linguistic cultures: The current system of Wikipedia citation prejudices textual szstems of knowledge over oral and visual systems of knowledge. This undervalues the
knowledge systems of cultural memory and related technique such as mnemo techniques or oral poetry on the one hand, and illiterate populations on the other hand.
Moderator: Zainab Bawa (IN)
Johanna Niesyto (DE)
Wikipedia as a translingual space
By drawing on interviews with 16 users of the English, French and German language versions of Wikipedia, my talk explores the hidden layer of the translingual. While most users describe the language versions as disconnected from each other, in particular the manual and bot-based interlanguage links are understood as practice and technological space that links different language versions. Besides, the ‘trans’ of translingual knowledge production is described by the interviewed users mostly in terms of ideas about the Wikipedia’s key principle NPoV. In my talk I introduce the two main user definitions of the principle: SPoV (Scientific Point of View) and PPoV (Pluralistic Point of Views). Based on this distinction I rase questions about how these principles may be ‘scaled up’ by creating a space of knowledge production across language versions.
Eric Zimmerman (IL)
Wikis and Current Research Information Systems
This paper shows that one way to increase trust in wiki use is to assist users in identifying the identity and expertise of authors and editors of content and how this can be accomplished by linking author and editor names to current research information systems. The paper further argues that this may prove difficult with general purpose wikis based on the fundamentals of contributor anonymity, but for specialised wikis this might be a feasible solution.
Stian Håklev (NO/CA)
Equitable Governance in Multilingual Wikipedia
This paper argues that more work needs to be done on discussing Wikipedia governance (and governance of large volunteer online projects in general) and that language presents an additional obstacle that is almost insurmountable, even for the most savvy local administrator. The paper does not intend to propose any finished solutions to this thorny problem but aims to raise an awareness of this important issue and to begin a discussion and propose some tentative ideas to mitigate the issue.
Han Teng Liao (TW)
User-generated Encyclopedia as Critical Case of Keyword Economy
The paper argues that the research interest on Google and Wikipedia may even point to something bigger than just finding the correct information. Research on Google and Wikipedia has seen a substantial
growth, not just in academic research, but also in market research usually under user-generated content. This paper proposes that after a very brief review of the two research endeavours, both search
engines and user-generated content should be studied simultaneously under a theoretical framework in order to capture the emerging dynamics between search results and user-generated content.
16.45-17.30 > SESSION 7
Wikipedia and Art
Art at the gates: Wikipedia Art is understood both as artwork and intervention. Taking place largely on Wikipedia itself, the project Wikipedia Art was considered controversial and was quickly removed
(see recent debate on nettime I). What does this project reveal about this type of knowledge production? What is the threshold of legitimacy for this type of knowledge and how are the boundaries policed?
What is at stake in the rejection of art?
Moderator: Namita Malhotra (IN)
Scott Kildall (US) and Nathaniel Stern (AU)
Wikipedia Art: Citation as Performative Art
This paper explicates and unfolds the performance of Wikipedia Art as a critical analysis of Wikipedia. Like Wikipedia and like Wikipedia Art, it uses citations to make all of its arguments, almost entirely from mainstream sources of information (such as, and including, Wikipedia). This methodology is in line with that which the paper aims to
Rut Jesus (PT/DK) and Anne Goldenberg (CA)
Our Coll(nn)ective Mind: Critics and The WikiWay
Our Coll(nn)ective Minds is a collective artistic installation inspired by wiki-like socio cognitive structures such as the Glass Plate Game, Mind Maps, and Open Space. This participative, low tech and immersive installation invited the participants to play and discuss concepts and relations between them through the two days of the conference. In order to understand better what these devices do, we explored
a way to make a wiki ‘live’, following some of the same principles. The installation consisted of a giant cube made of bamboo, allowing participants to hang concepts (written or drawn) on paper, plasticine,
origami and other hanging pieces. They were invited to place concepts in the cube, link them with other concepts and, by doing so, to participate in the creation of a collective mind map. The cubic space,
which was editable throughout the conference, was aimed at focusing on the theme: Critics and the Wikiway. Participants were asked to add on to these two concepts, in order to tie together the conference and the participation in a creative, explorative wikiway, and therefore, to edit, correct, link and discuss each other’s contributions. It became the occasion for mediated discussion but also the occasion to have
face-to-face negociations around the collective result. By bringing a highly interactive aspect to the conference we wanted to foment the spirit of community with an interplay between art, academic and criti-
cal reflexion. Though Our Coll(nn)ective Minds is not exclusively wiki related it will be proposed for the next WikiSym and Wikimania.