Wikipedia's heritage: vision, pragmatics, and happenstance

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Wikipedia's heritage: vision, pragmatics, and happenstance is an 2005 essay written in English by Joseph M. Reagle.

[edit] Abstract

This essay explores development of globally available digital reference works from their first imaginings to contemporary cases. My hope in undertaking such a project is to identify technical and social aspects of digital reference work production that can contribute to an understanding of a prominent contemporary exemplar, the Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia. Why did it take over 50 years for the vision of "[w]holly new forms of encyclopedias" (Bush 1945: §8) to be realized? The answer, presented in this essay, was that it required an alignment of a coherent goal, technical practicality, and serendipity: vision, pragmatics, and happenstance.

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