“Here Comes Everybody” pt. 2: Wikipedia, the Terminator of Networking?
February 10, 2012
Wikipedia, in case anyone’s been living under a rock for the past eleven years; is the Ambrosia of information on the web. What makes this resource completely unique is how anyone can edit, add, or even remove the information on it. Clay Shirky talks about the sheer power of this type of community melting pot of the how-to or what-do in the first two chapters of “Here Comes Everybody”, both in the story of the recovered lost cellular centralized in the former and the rather copious amount of examples portrayed in the latter. Most prominently in these, as far as my opinion goes (which isn’t so far at all), is that of Flickr’s photo sharing capability. It’s created an ultra-easy environment for connecting all over the world with minimal effort required. Shirky muses that it may have become too easy do to so. My own take on the subject is perhaps with so little work necessary; we as humanity will forget how to manually assimilate ourselves.
In many ways, Wikipedia has assumed the same front yet covering a different source of media. It makes information so easily accessible—and yet so malleable; nobody needs to do much of anything to acquire it. You’re looking for a list of cast members for your favorite flick? Wikipedia. How about the origin of punk rock or the goth subculture? Wikipedia. Who needs to walk when we can all ride around on little scooters? Oh, you forgot how to stand up?
Who needs their legs, anyway?
I’m off on a tangent somewhere far, far away from the purpose of this assignment. Basically, Wikipedia is not unlike the practice of Shirky’s handful of networking tales because it is networking. But, it’s on a much more basic level. Community’s assimilate to glean knowledge on a certain topic, not to inquire about one another’s day. I’m not sure there is a “chat” function, actually. So it would be impossible to round up an angry mob to force a lost cellphone from an absurdly GH3TT0 FR3SH teen-mom. But in a way, there’s still rounding-up to be had. It’s a community more so like that of Flickr; wherein users are implored to collectively add to a pool of something. And that, readers, is a double-edged sword hidden betwixt the folds of obvious conveniences.
Vowell, Sarah. The Wordy Shipmates. New York: Riverhead, 2008. 1-72. Print.