Hackers, Cyborgs, and Wikipedians: The Political Economy and Cultural History of Wikipedia

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Hackers, Cyborgs, and Wikipedians: The Political Economy and Cultural History of Wikipedia is a 2011 doctoral thesis written in English by Andrew A. Famiglietti.

[edit] Abstract

This dissertation explores the political economy and cultural history of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. It demonstrates how Wikipedia, an influential and popular site of knowledge production and distribution, was influenced by its heritage from the hacker communities of the late twentieth century. More specifically, Wikipedia was shaped by an ideal I call, “the cyborg individual,” which held that the production of knowledge was best entrusted to a widely distributed network of individual human subjects and individually owned computers. I trace how this ideal emerged from hacker culture in response to anxieties hackers experienced due to their intimate relationships with machines. I go on to demonstrate how this ideal influenced how Wikipedia was understood both those involved in the early history of the site, and those writing about it. In particular, legal scholar Yochai Benkler seems to base his understanding of Wikipedia and its strengths on the cyborg individual ideal. Having established this, I then move on to show how the cyborg individual ideal misunderstands Wikipedia's actual method of production. Most importantly, it overlooks the importance of how the boundaries drawn around communities and shared technological resources shape Wikipedia's content. I then proceed to begin the process of building what I believe is a better way of understanding Wikipedia, by tracing how communities and shared resources shape the production of recent Wikipedia articles.

[edit] References

This publication has 70 references. Only those references related to wikis are included here:

  • "The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom" (create it!) [search]
  • "Techtalk: Wikis and Collaborative Knowledge Construction" (create it!) [search]
  • "Phantom authority, self-selective recruitment and retention of members in virtual communities: The case of Wikipedia" (create it!) [search]
  • "A history department bans citing Wikipedia as a research source" (create it!) [search]
  • "The Social Construction of Freedom in Free and Open Source Software: Hackers, Ethics, and the Liberal Tradition" (create it!) [search]
  • "Inside, Wikipedia is more like a sweatshop than Santa's workshop" (create it!) [search]
  • "Peer governance and Wikipedia: Identifying and understanding the problems of Wikipedia’s governance" (create it!) [search]
  • "Community, consensus, coercion, control: cs*w or how policy mediates mass participation" (create it!) [search]
  • "Digital Maoism: The hazards of the new online collectivism" (create it!) [search]
  • "Wikipedia black helicopters circle Utah's Traverse Mountain" (create it!) [search]
  • "Investigating recognition-based performance in an open content community: a social capital perspective" (create it!) [search]
  • "The reach and richness of Wikipedia: Is Wikinomics only for rich countries?" (create it!) [search]
  • "Wikipedians, and Why They Do It: Motivational Dynamics of Voluntary Engagement in an Open Web-based Encyclopedia" (create it!) [search]
  • "From counterculture to cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the rise of digital utopianism" (create it!) [search]
  • "The unsurprising rise of Wikipedia in Google ranks (The Googlization of Everything)" (create it!) [search]
  • "Studying cooperation and conflict between authors with history flow visualizations" (create it!) [search]

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