[Wikipedia-l] Wikipedia and the networked society

SJ 2.718281828 at gmail.com
Fri Sep 22 01:33:51 UTC 2006

Wikipedia is no longer a project or a club.  It is a society and a
component of society, a supporting beam in a new addition to the
castle of civilization.  Soon -- and for a long time to come[1] -- it
will touch every structure, every window, wall and fixture, from pipes
to minarets.  It will influence decisions about community-building and
knowledge production, publishing and broadcasting, by proxy if not

Brief discussions about the future surfaced at Wikimania, last year
and last month.  Other discussoins have surrounded the board
elections.  The latter have a very particular flavor; and are likely
to end once the elections do.  Other discussions have surfaced before,
largely in meta-space, and rarely with deep collaboration.  It is a
shame that introspection, statistics about our communities and
ourselves, internal research efforts, have not been a larger part of
recent years' growth.  It would be a further shame if the projects did
not find guidance in lessons of the distant past, in similar
organizations and initiatives of the recent past, or in similar trends
of the present.

We are doing the impossible, at a very rapid rate -- too rapid at
times for us to stop and collect our thoughts.  Today it was suggested
that spending too much time discussing or thinking about priorities
and future direction is a distraction from building the projects or
writing an encyclopedia.  In counter, here are three areas in
particular which deserve ongoing attention, and which will help the
projects scale another few orders of magnitude:

 1. Discussion of the dreams, goals, and milestones for the projects,
foundation, and community
 2. Discussion and launching of communal research projects to find out
more about the projects, communities, users and reusers
 3. Identification and investigation of parallel projects and
organizations, now and in the past, to offer perspective

Three emails follow on the above topics.  I hope the aftertaste of the
elections and the upcoming foundation retreat will encourage
addressing these issues in earnest.


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