Submitted by Jim Brown on June 8, 2007 - 2:47pm
Wikis continue to sprout (for examples, see Conservapedia and Citizendium). Recently, I've been notified of No Subject, a wiki-based encyclopedia of psychoanalysis (thanks to Jillian for the link). This seems like a resource that would be extremely helpful to folks like me who need explanations of concepts like lack or Countertransference. Useful, that is, depending on who's writing it.
But back to wikis sprouting everywhere: The success of Wikipedia seems to have really circumscribed the idea of what a wiki is or what it could be useful for. Wikis don't have to be encyclopedias. They can be lots of things. However, it seems that we've really gotten stuck when it comes to thinking through what wikis can be. Why do we keep creating knowledge dumps/repositories?
This is not to say that all of these encyclopedias are a bad thing. In fact, all of these specialized wikis remind me of how prescient Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition (1979!) was:
“[Computer Technology] could become the ‘dream’ instrument for controlling and regulating the market system…governing exclusively by the performativity principle. In that case, it would inevitably involve the use of terror. But it could also aid groups discussing metaprescriptives by supplying them with the information they usually lack for making knowledgeable decisions. The line to follow for computerization to take the second of these two paths is, in principle, quite simple: give the public free access to the memory and data banks. Language games would then be games of perfect information at any given moment. But they would also be non-zero-sum games, and by virtue of that fact discussion would never risk fixating in a position of minimax equilibrium because it had exhausted its stakes. For the stakes would be knowledge (or information if you will), and the reserve of knowledge – language’s reserve of possible utterances – is inexhaustible. This sketches the outline of a politics that would respect both the desire for justice and the desire for the unknown” (67).