Antonio A. Casilli on Sat, 2 May 2009 15:03:13 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> "Wiki, c'est fini?"

(excerpt from May 01, 2009)

[...] Is Wikipedia showing its dark side? Two eloquent examples,
both occurred on Feb. 2009: the ?Precarity controversy? and the
?Wikipedia art legal dispute?. I tend to consider these two incidents,
respectively, as the Invasion of Russia and the Waterloo of the famous
online encyclopedia. That is, if a French dictator from the 19th
century ran it.

The controversy over the article Precarity can be summarized
as follows: after a relentless struggle between a group of
European autonomist marxists (regarding precarity as the set of
material conditions of temp workers in postindustrial societies)
and one isolated social christian contributor (interpreting it
as the existential condition of man in the presence of God?s
transcendence), the former filed a semi-protection request,
preventing all anonymous edits and de facto equating all expressions
of dissent to an act of vandalism. I, for one, lined up with the
autonomous marxists, and provided my reasons in this Nettime post
My point of view has changed since then, especially in the light
of the final outcome. The article has been ?balcanized?, both
ideologically and geographically, with the European marxists on the
one side and the (non European?) social christians on the other.
Consensus has not been reached. Coertion and mutual usurpation
triumph. Way to run a collaborative environment.

The ?Wikipedia art? legal dispute took place around the same
time. Initiated by Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern, the project
was intended to be an artistic performance/meta-intervention
on/about/around Wikipedia. In a nutshell: the article Wikipedia art
(subtly accusing the website of exploiting authors and providing
biased information) is published on Wikipedia. In the meantime, a PR
campaign is launched in the blogosphere. Wikipedia admins consider
the article useless and not coherent with the websites standards of
quality - and delete it. Expectedly, artists accuse Wikipedia of
censoring them. Unexpectedly, Wikipedia threatens legals action over
potential trademark infringement. The artists make an archive of all
the letters from Wikipedia lawyers and legal counsel (and sell it to
art galleries? :P).Turns out the Wikipedia art performance follows
in the Grand Tradition of Marketing Events Disguised as Harsh Social
Commentaries. Don?t get me wrong - I?m more than ok with that. From
Yves Klein to, this is the kind of works that
have actually helped us explore new artistic possibilities. But for
now the project is just another hole in Wikipedia?s reputation. [...]

(the rest of the article is here
now-it/) )

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