[Air-l] Trusted Wikipedia

Mary K. Bryson mary.bryson at ubc.ca
Thu Sep 21 08:00:38 PDT 2006

On 9/20/06 7:45 PM, "Alex Halavais" <halavais at gmail.com> wrote:

> To do this, we need to assemble a group of people who have some level
> of recognition in the field, and who are willing to devote a small
> amount of time to helping to select a core set of articles and oversee
> the review process. While we will be looking at a number of ways to
> make this process more technologically easy, the key issue here is to
> find a group of people willing to invest a little time and their
> reputations in an effort to make Wikipedia a more trusted source.

"Recognition" is such a complicated construct. How to fashion a version of
"recognition" that would make sense within the unique version of constraints
that operate in Wikipedia would be a productive educational activity. It
would be productive of something that would, in all likelihood, stage a
return to some notion of "verifiable expertise". It's just so hard to avoid
a return to the repressed. What, exactly, is the problem with Wikipedia,
anyway, really? And I mean "problem" from a scholarly perspective. Here we
have an enactment of Hannah Arendt's observation that when there is genuine
novelty it always appears rather miraculous, and we want to bring a novel
artifact back into line with what it replaced, against all odds - something
like - an academic journal? Why? Who doesn't trust Wikipedia, and who wants
to trust its contents, and what is it to have a relation of "trust" with
knowledge, anyway? What kind of knowledge is it that improves in its value
because we stand before it in a relation of "trust"? The latter is probably
easy enough to answer at the level of the everyday - as in -- "Well if I'm
going in for open-heart surgery I want the person with the scalpel to know a
little more than what you could find in a Wikipedia article." But outside of
that realm of instrumental knowledge, literally, who is a "trusted source"
and with what are they entrusted, and by whom? It's good to keep in mind
what McLuhan observed about the contents of a new medium invariably being
that of what it replaced... Maybe we can't help but experience anxiety that
this odd site seems kind of like an encyclopedia, but is different. However,
our relation to that anxiety can also be productive of the insight that we
might not need to move to enact a strategy of repair.

Dr. Mary K. Bryson, Associate Professor and Director, Graduate Programs,
ECPS, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia
Research Profile http://www.ecps.educ.ubc.ca/research/mbryson.htm

More information about the Air-L mailing list