Sunday, June 1, 2008

The problem with wikis

Original post date: 9/17/07

I have a problem with wikis. They don't allow for concurrent multiple points of view on one subject. Wiki pages essentially are trying to achieve the objective/collective and don't leave room for the subjective/individual. (Now, by controversial, I mean *within* the context of the topic. Not whether or not the idea itself is accepted. We're presuming an apriori acceptance of the topic to begin with)

Let's say you've got a controversial topic about which many people have differing opinions. Jungian psychology is a good example. There are varying interpretations of the works of Jung. Jung wrote in Turn of the Century Swiss German, and most modern English speaking Jungians today are using a singular translation of Jung's works as the basis of their studies. It's many degrees removed from the original primary text, so there's bound to be different versions of what Jung meant. If I were to create a Jung wiki, the collective editorship would be forced to agree on one definition of Introverted Thinking. Why isn't there a "Gospel of Jung according to Beebe" and "Gospel of Jung according to Pastor" ability?

And speaking of Gospels, let's talk about the Big Gospel - the Gospel of Jesus. The Gospels show different versions of the life of Jesus, and they don't all necessarily mesh. The Gospel According to Judas is a good example of a wiki contribution that was edited out by the collective editorship. What if wikis allowed for multiple viewpoints to stand side-by-side?

Software developers have a fear of 'forking' when it comes to software development. I think that attitude has overcome other forms of scholarship, to the detriment of many voices. It's time for the Triumph of the Subjective, yet again.
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