The Wiki Gnomes


The Wiki Gnomes


Last night Carol and I were chatting right before we fall asleep.  Something I used to enjoy doing with my brother when we were kids and had to share a room.  I started talking about my new fascination with Wiki’s.  I tried to explain what a Wiki was to my wife and told her about wikipedia. 

LT: Yeah it’s great.  There is tons of information and anyone can add to it
Carol: Can anyone write anything they want
LT: Yes
Carol: Well that is stupid.  What is going to stop people from putting up misinformation
LT: Nothing, people check it for accuracy, the system keeps a revision history, good content can be restored at any time
Carol: Who controls it
LT: It’s self policing
Carol: Who makes sure the information is accurate
LT: Regular people
Carol: What regular people
LT: [Exasperated] The wiki people, the wiki gnomes
Both: Laughter

End of Conversation

  1. #1 by Marc on September 29, 2005 - 10:27 am

    Hooray for pillow talk!

  2. #2 by Moose on September 29, 2005 - 4:47 pm

    Wiki Gnomes LOL! That is Great! Can I use that? ROFL…Awesome! -Moose

  3. #3 by Scott on October 3, 2005 - 10:12 am

    I love Wikipedia too. But I had the same concerns when I first heard of it, Leighton. It’s quite an interesting response, actually, and at the heart of who I am. It’s that great “What If” that postmodernism laughs at, and, perhaps, is right to laugh at. Where is the authority if just anyone can handle the information? The same fear cuts into the history of the church and theology and the arguments surrounding scripture.

  4. #4 by Leighton Tebay on October 3, 2005 - 1:02 pm

    Scott:

    We are coming out of a world where credentialed authorities maintained control because if they didn’t chaos would ensue. The underlying assumption here is regular people can’t be trusted. If any group of people were left without authoritative guidance eventually one person will rise up and lead them one way or another, or someone will just be destructive and people will get hurt. Either way it just wasn’t seen as safe or worthwhile. I think the church largely operates under the same assumption.

    I think the Internet is beginning turn this whole thinking on its side. When people aren’t acting out of fear and they have time to think they generally act very well. There is “wiki vandalism” on Wikipedia but it is cleaned up after 5 minutes on average. Because it isn’t just the authorities that respond there are enough responsible regular people to balance out the crazies.

    Now that people are freed up to participate and collaborate we are seeing the immense benefits of non-authoritian structure. With Wikipedia I think the benefits outweigh the risks. Not everything can function without some form of authority. Imagine a military that ran like Wikipedia.

    I think we are beginning to see the benefits of the wisdom of crowds. In the blogosphere there are no credentialed authorities that permit or deny access but the community itself discerns and credentials the best voices. The more useful a site is the more links it gets. This form of public discernment is largely unswayed by the kind of emotional manipulation that marks things like government politics.

    Is there a place for authority in all this. I think there is even in some of the most open environments. On the Resonate mail list there was someone who was continually causing unnecessary personal conflict and eventually he was booted from the list. Authority has to exist in order to respond to those who are consistently being destructive, but I think the role authority has is more in reacting to maintain safety rather than standing as gatekeepers.

  5. #5 by Scott on October 3, 2005 - 1:41 pm

    Excellent, Leighton. I agree there must remain some kind of facilitation within a community. Your Wiki post (and my similar reaction to wiki’s) brought to mind the Catholic church’s response to letting regular people read the scriptures in their own languages and then it brought to mind the emerging church and its desire to unbind itself from modernistic thinking and traditional structures.

    It’s a dangerous thing letting people directly relate to God and letting God directly relate to them. But it’s a good thing as well. And it’s God-directed.

    There is wisdom in community and it ought to be trusted more.

  6. #6 by Jerry on October 4, 2005 - 2:12 am

    Hmmm… interesting. You guys! Now I’m bombarded with the enigma of what is unsafe and how it is identified in different contexts like the ones you mentioned.

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