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Wyatt wikipedia endless palimpsest

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Presentation given at the University of Sydney "Wikipedia in Higher Education Symposium" (5 April 2013) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Meetup/Sydney/5_April_2013

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Wyatt wikipedia endless palimpsest

  1. 1. Wikipedia: The Endless PalimpsestSummary of the concluding chapter to my history thesis: “The academic lineage of Wikipedia” http://wittylama.com/thesis Wikipedia in Higher Education Symposium https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Wikipedia:Meetup/Sydney/5_April_2013 University of Sydney 5 April, 2013 Liam Wyatt @wittylama
  2. 2. Palimpsest?The palimpsest is that most unusual of sources as it shows not only what was retained but also what was considered unworthy of retention. What was once discarded can be reclaimed.
  3. 3. enwp.org/Palimpsest#Famous_examples Cicero’s De re publica, Archimedes’ Stomachion Some double palimpsest One hyper-palimpsest (Novgorod) Wikipedia: the Infinite palimpsest
  4. 4. “Using” Wikipedia• Read it • Cite it• Edit it • For Primary Research
  5. 5. There is an increasing literature about how to use Wikipedia in the classroom and also the specificcircumstances when you could legitimately cite its articles. This presentation talks about Wikipedia as an historical record in its own right and therefore how it might be legitimately used as a primary source. It is the most controversial of the “four uses”.
  6. 6. Three Policy Pillars• Neutral Point of View (NPOV)• Verifiability (V)• No Original Research (NOR)
  7. 7. Without these three pillars,Wikipedia would not be of any use to historical research. With them, Wikipedia is a compendium of information - created by the world in real time - of primary history. It is “the people” consciously attempting to write history in as neutral a way as possible.
  8. 8. Four Primary History Uses of Wikipedia• Articles • Paratexts• Discussions • Popularity
  9. 9. Digital Archaeology Given an sufficient amount of server space and the commitment to maintain it, a resource already exists thatmay not only sound the death knell of archaeology but also the opportunity to enable a greater depth and sophistication of anthropology than has ever existed before. So radical an innovation would this newanthropological methodology represent that it deserves its own name. Call it Wikipediology. - Andrew Updergrove, The Wikipedia and the death of archaeology 2006
  10. 10. Articles
  11. 11. Everything is kept.Everything is available for analysis. And I mean everything.
  12. 12. Long History “Australasia - natives” - Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1842“Indigenous Australians” - Encyclopaedia Britannica, present. It is not the information in these EB articles which is interesting to historians. It is that they demonstrate the spirit of the age. As it is with EB, so too with WP.
  13. 13. It’s even possible to visualise “big history” http://www.ragtag.info/2011/feb/2/history-world-100-seconds/ http://stats.wikimedia.org/
  14. 14. Short HistoryA minute by minute account of the public record of history. Wikipedia isn’t the eyewitness history, but compiles the chronology of what was publicly known. [suffers from Western and popular biases though] e.g. Timelapse video of first 24 hours of WP article development: “July 2005 London Bombings” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8O-hv3w-MU
  15. 15. Discussions
  16. 16. Article
  17. 17. Of the associated discussion pages:I submit that this transcript is valuable in revealing exactly how a war ofideas is waged... As the primary article about the Muhammad cartoonsevolved, there also arose behind the scenes a fierce debate over whetheror not the cartoons themselves should be included and how they shouldbe displayed.The transcript of the debate captures not only the ideas expressed by themany contributors and readers, but also the tenor of the debates, thepleas, the acts of vandalism, the argumentative styles, strategies, tactic andgambits. In other words, the transcript reveals how some contributors wonthe debate, how the others lost, and how each side treated the other.This transcript reveals the mechanics of the clash of civilizations. John Simmons, Iraq Museum International www.baghdadmuseum.org/wikipedia
  18. 18. This is unmediated debate in the frame of describing topics for posterity. Wikipedia discussion pages are not for conversationbut for planning and debating the best way to convey a topic.
  19. 19. Paratexts
  20. 20. Vandalism...“...from the philosophical and the poetic to the lewd and the obscene.”
  21. 21. Vandalism...“...from the philosophical and the poetic to the lewd and the obscene.” Rex Wallace, An Introduction to Wall Inscriptions from Pompeii and Herculaneum, 2005
  22. 22. Their banality becomes their usefulness. What was once discarded becomes important, precisely because it was never meant to be kept.Spelling/grammar mistakes, marginalia, erasures...
  23. 23. popularity
  24. 24. Quantitative, not just Qualitative history How does the historian footnote the following statement:“In the lead-up to the 2008 US presidential elections, the choice of Joe Biden took no one by surprise but the choice of Sarah Palin took her from relative obscurity to become political phenomenon, instantly.”
  25. 25. Absolute popularity
  26. 26. Relative PopularityHow does the historian footnote the following statement: “In the 2008 US Democratic party primaries, BarackObama consistently dominated the popular interest of the global population, at least those online.”
  27. 27. Four Primary History Uses of Wikipedia• Articles • Paratexts• Discussions • Popularity
  28. 28. participation?
  29. 29. Peace, Love & Metadata liamwyatt@gmail.com [[user:witty lama]] @wittylama These slides available from www.wittylama.com/presentations