Wikipedia as a Community of Practice


Presentation abstract: The objective of this presentation is to analyze the history and processes of meaning construction within the Wikipedia encyclopedia. Specifically, I will address how Wikipedia users continually contribute to the editing of articles. These actions can be considered part of a history of changes that record the constant flux of negotiation, reification, and participation. I will discuss this topic by mobilizing the Deleuzian structure of the rhizome, Wenger’s concept of communities of practice as a site of identity and meaning-making, and Lévy’s collective intelligence, while framing the subject within the field of cybernetics. I will suggest that the resulting interactions of these theories and the Wikipedia community create a site of recorded negotiations of meaning. Within this suggestion I will be tackling two questions: (1) To what extent does Wikipedia represent an emergent system of consensual aggregation, evolving from constant negotiation and rearticulation of meaning? and (2) what conclusions can be inferred from an analysis of the semantic history of a digitally recorded community?


Interface Conference: Residual Media, Carleton University (Ottawa), May 8, 2010

About the image

The above gif is an animation I used to illustrate how a wikipedia article changes over time. I took every iteration of the page Simple Wikipedia:Rules (December 2003 – April 2010) and displayed its changing contents.

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