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Radically Inept
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
  The Blogging of the President: 2004

Stirling Newberry, over at The Blogging of the President: 2004 writes an excellent piece analyzing "The Wikipedia Wars". Over at Wikipedia, he explains:
The essential driving reason for the change came from the parts of the community where a large number of people work on articles, and occasionally a few people decide to stonewall by "reverting" articles by removing edits. This "edit wars" lead to hard feelings, particularly when many are working in good faith, and a few are not. However, wiki is a diverse place. While many controversial topics that need communalization - people finding a consensus view that everyone can at least bear - there are many which are long running arguments between zealous adherents of one view, and more diverse disciplined approaches. In these, the roles are reversed. The reverters are generally seeking to protect long built up work from those who wish to come in and scribble their point of view. This difference - that the largest and most active section of wiki, and arguably its most important social function is completely the reverse of the majority of articles and information on wiki means that the new stance will take a period of time to work to a new equilibrium.

It is a vast experiment in how community knowledge works, it is a radical experiment, and will force wiki to either formally adhere to its own principles, as disputes multiply - or it will become a place where "let's all play nice in the sand box" types destroy the vitality of the community and impose, instead a mobocracy, where which ever numerically superior point of view gets the upper hand forces "consensus" their way.

It is a microcosm of American
Which is a comparison I don't think I would have made had I even known the wars were going on. But, it fits in well with what I was taught concerning group dynamics and with what I'm seeing on the web in various areas.

He concludes:
"But that is merely this incarnation. In a larger sense it is a conflict that will never go away, because it rests on different views of what a stable solution looks like. The desire to have one size fits all rules that end overt conflict, is necessarily at variance with those who want to work to the best possible outcome in every single case. Neither side has a monopoly on sanity - one must both let sleeping dogs lie sometimes, and pursue the truth whereever it takes you on the other.

The key is whether those who disrupt can gain control with the acquiecence of those who demand peace. A working political system puts the onus on those who disrupt to prove that their case is urgent enough to require the suspension or compression of normal discourse. And wikipedia - a great experiment in consensus democracy - has set off the trigger, by forcing what had been done informally and in a decentralized manner, to be done more formally and in a more centralized system.

We should be watching how it turns out, it will say a great deal about how the direction of the country is going."
Sounds like complexity, chaos, emerging properties and politics rolled into one.

I like Wikipedia. And maybe I'll have to go back occassionaly and check on how the wars are going. Hell, I think I will use them a little more often now that I've gone through some of their Physics and Philosophy sections. 
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