Submissions/The Wikipedian Condition

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This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2013.

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Submission no.
3018
Subject no. 
D1
Title of the submission
The Wikipedian Condition: Analyzing the System of Social Relations on Wikipedia Through Political Lenses
Type of submission
Presentation
Author of the submission
Josh Lim
Country of origin
Philippines
Affiliation
Wikimedia Philippines (the organization however has no involvement with this presentation)
E-mail address
jamesjoshualim@yahoo.com
Username
Sky Harbor
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract
This presentation seeks to explain, using political theories, the existing state of social relations that currently exist on Wikipedia, how this state of social relations came about, and what may be done to rectify this with the notion of Wikipedia being, first and foremost, a community of editors, taking into account project history, where we are today, and where we can go from here.
Detailed proposal
NOTE: This presentation is a resubmission from Wikimania 2011. The presentation was scored favorably at the time, but ultimately did not make the final cut.
This presentation seeks to explain, using political theories, the existing state of social relations that currently exist on Wikipedia, how this state of social relations came about, and what may be done to rectify this with the notion of Wikipedia being, first and foremost, a community of editors. It seeks to add a new dimension to the characterization of Wikipedia's editing community (hopefully answering questions such as "Why are older users leaving Wikipedia?", "Why are new users today afraid of being bold?" and "Is Wikipedia elitist?", questions which have been raised in various Wikipedia fora over the years), through the use of the following political concepts (not all the concepts which will be used are listed here):
  • Panopticism as conceptualized by Michel Foucault in Discipline and Punish. Since Wikipedians' actions are constantly checked, through the ability to see what other editors are doing in real time, it begs the question: how did this come about, and how does it affect Wikipedian community dynamics?
  • Hannah Arendt's conceptualization of labor in The Human Condition and atomization in The Origins of Totalitarianism. Arendt argues that labor can only be realized in a social medium, which in this case is Wikipedia. But at the same time, as Wikipedia grows, decentralization became a necessity. Are Wikipedians therefore self-atomizing, isolating themselves from the rest of the community?
  • The state of war in Multitude by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. Wikipedians, while perhaps showing a greater than average tolerance for collaboration and confrontation, are still human beings. What kind of environment do Wikipedians see themselves being in, and how does this, for example, affect the reception newer Wikipedians get in comparison to how older Wikipedians were welcomed when the project was much younger? Has Wikipedia become more collaborative as it matured, or not?
Overall, this presentation aims to provide additional context to how Wikipedia's editing community functions both as a whole and as individual "sovereign" (autonomous) units, which (as far as I know) has not yet been explained using political theory as a means of analysis. Tying this in with historical accounts of the development of Wikipedia, and using a bit of personal experience as a long-time Wikipedia editor, this presentation hopes to encourage people to think not only about what we have done right, but also what we may have done wrongly, and how we can proceed as the project matures.
Trivia: This presentation is named after the book The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt, and is a paper that I submitted for a political science class at the Ateneo de Manila University in early 2011.
Track
WikiCulture and Community
Length of presentation/talk
25 minutes (maybe 30)
Language of presentation/talk
English
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
It depends. I am applying for a scholarship, although I might go even if my submission is not accepted depending on funding.
Slides or further information (optional)
None yet, although I might have something up soon.
Special requests


Interested attendees

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  1. BasilGeorge22 (talk) 10:39, 19 February 2013 (UTC)
  2. അമിർ എ. അഹരൊനി (talk) 20:41, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
  3. I like hearing abstract theory and deconstruction talks on why things work the way they do. Blue Rasberry (talk) 20:52, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
  4. Risker (talk) 21:54, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
  5. CT Cooper · talk 00:30, 29 April 2013 (UTC)
  6. Ocaasi (talk) 17:28, 30 April 2013 (UTC)
  7. Interesting! Pundit (talk) 19:40, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
  8. Ovedc (talk) 08:37, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
  9. Anthonyhcole (talk) 22:20, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
  10. Vera (talk) 18:33, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
  11. Jensbest (talk) 00:10, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
  12. Your name here