February 14, 2009

Joe Reagle on Wikipedia

Category: Academic — Biella @ 11:36 am

In this age of bits and bytes, there are many virtual organizations and networks which produce all sorts of stuff we use on a daily basis. My two favorite institutions are Debian (not a surprise) and Wikipedia, not just because they oh-so-useful to me and many others, which they are, but because the social organizations behind these two entities are so (at times maddeningly) complex and full of nuance, they provide for endless analytical fascination.

One of my friends, Joe Reagle, who has recently graduated from my home department, is presenting is work on Wikipedia and I thought some local New York geeks might be interested. Information below:

All welcome

4:30 – 6:00 PM, Tuesday February 17
206 Vanderbilt Hall, 40 Wash. Sq. So.

Wikipedia: Nazis and Norms

Joseph Reagle, NYU Department of Media, Culture, and Communication

Abstract: In 1990 Mike Godwin coined his “Law of Nazi Analogies” to capture the common devolution of Usenet discourse into insulting comparisons with Nazis or Hitler. Eleven years later, Jimmy Wales wrote that it was important that the Wikipedia community “preserve and extend our culture of co-operation, with all of us standing as firmly as possible against the culture of conflict embodied in Usenet.” I argue Wikipedia is a realization — even if flawed — of a long-held vision for a universal encyclopedia: a technology inspired vision seeking to wed increased access to information with greater human accord. And I claim Wikipedia’s collaborative culture is a big factor for this success: the norms of “Neutral Point of View” ensures that the scattered pieces of what we think we know can be joined and good faith facilitates the actual practice of fitting them together.


  1. You won’t tell Greg if I skip his class for this, right? :)

    Comment by luis — February 15, 2009 @ 6:44 am

  2. Hah, he reads this blog.. Though I am not sure he reads all the comments :-)

    Comment by Biella — February 15, 2009 @ 6:46 am

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