I have a bunch of ideas for more “Wikipedia in Theory” posts, but I’ve been too busy to write any of them lately. So maybe if I jot down some of the ideas, I’ll get around to them before I forget about them.
- “Wikipedia in Theory (postmodernism edition)” – how does the idea of metanarrative, and the postmodern condition of “incredulity toward metanarratives”, apply to Wikipedia, where readers are free to construct their own narratives as they weave from one article to the next (creating their own larger stories from the small ones in each article)?
- “Wikipedia in Theory (economic governance edition)” – the recent economics Nobel was for work on economic governance of the commons. How does Wikipedia look in the light the work of Nobel laureates Elinor Ostrom and Oliver E. Williamson?
- “Wikipedia in Theory (philosophy of technology edition)” – this could actually be several posts, but the key thing to explore is how the technology of Wikipedia shapes its social environment and vice-versa. A related point that Erik Moeller drew my attention to a few years ago is how the wiki is an environment that allows even fairly novice users to extend and modify the technology, broadly interpreted as not just the base MediaWiki code but also the templates, interface, and even policy and process.
- “Wikipedia in Theory (media studies edition)” – if there’s some truth to the idea that “the medium is the message”, then what messages is Wikipedia’s medium sending?
- “Wikipedia in Theory (cyborg theory edition)” – Donna Haraway’s powerful-but-challenging Cyborg Manifesto (1991) lays out many themes that resonate strongly with Wikipedia and the cultural effects of the net more broadly: the importance of affinity over identity; the blurring of lines between social organisms and social machines; science fiction-inspired utopianism; the “informatics of domination”, and more.
Other suggestions are welcome. What theoretical perspectives do you find interesting or provocative or useful when applied to Wikipedia?