Democracy Downloaded

Wikia interview, continued

Posted by joevoeller on February 21, 2007

Here’s the second part of my interview with Dan Lewis of Wikia’s new politics site:

 Democracy Downloaded: Just to understand the difference between blogging and posting an article to Wikia, walk me through the process. Are the articles on your site personally authored?

Dan Lewis: We have a form that an individual fills out and it asks you for a title, tells you to write the article, and then to tag it with appropriate key words. Then they hit the submit button and it goes into our publication que right away. And it is personally signed by the author.

So the articles are individually written, but they can be edited by the community. But this editing is typically limited to formatting and structure.

You’re probably not going to see substantive edits for two reasons: one, because the incentive to reply, while it might be very high,  is probably better handled by adding something to the comments section. If you wanted to hack up somebody’s piece, you could, but the author would probably just come back and fix the edits. Putting your changes in the comments section is a more permanent way to leave your mark. The second reason you probably won’t see a ton of substantive edits is that it is so easy to go ahead and post your own article. So there’s really no reason to come by and hack up somebody’s article when you can publish your own. 

DD: What role do you think the site could play in the 2008 elections? Do you think it will have more of an imact on small, local elections or on the national presidential campaign?

DL: Well, its really up to the community of writers who join our site; it’s really not up to us. And that’s just how Wikia communities work best. Let the people decide, let them hammer out the issues.

But if you are asking me about where it might have an impact, I would say everywhere. Online media first started having an impact in the 2000 elections, with magainzes like Slate. . .

But now online media is a lot more collaborative. As sites like blogger and wordpress came along, they helped remove the technological barriers to collaboration. What remains are the social barriers to publishing an article and getting it noticed, getting people to point to it. So we are going to take care of that and remove the social barriers.  

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One Response to “Wikia interview, continued”

  1. clm2134 said

    Technology barriers are social barriers… hmmm, that reminds of the quote from Benkler’s Wealth of Networks: “Technology creates feasibility spaces for social practice.”

    As was noted on New Museums, there is also the beneficial echo effect in these technologies: user-generated sites can help to lend focus, form and political credence to the cumulative nebulous of individual opinion, opposition and political power. That is the power of collaboration, it is magnifying.

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