Tag Archives: wiki

What a Wiki

During my last years study I was very interested in WikiPedia and the potential of creating or using a Wiki for developing creative practice, as well as using the structure of a Wiki for some sort of creativity. I explored creating a self-referential artwork through sabotage of WikiPedia; an interesting concept but in reality something that comes down to just being sabotage for the sake of it rather than sabotage for creative ends.

Over the last few days, working with my tutor Jane Brake, I’ve managed to set up a Wiki to be used for various purposes. Although the potential reaches beyond Interactive Arts and beyond my University completely; the starting point is as a resource for Interactive Arts.

Interactive Arts has had a web forum for some time, but these days is rarely used or read, as such it has become redundant. Personally I think that forum could easily be revived by making it more valuable to “us” (students) however that is an aside. The function that the forum performs – I expect – will be easily incorporated into the new Wiki. As well as that the Wiki will provide a framework for delivering other materials to students and also letting the students contribute, what they want as they want to.

Aside from “What? Why? How? Who?” type questions (to quote BBC4’s “The Late Edition”) – the point is the Interactive Arts Wiki has been created and I will be putting together the initial structure and content before “launching” it with my fellow students.

The big question with a Wiki once it is installed and working is; “Now what do I do with it?” Having set about this question with earnest, I’ve come up with;

  • Documentation. This section of the wiki will effectively be a showcase of artists’ work (to start off with, Interactive Arts students). People will be able to create a page under their own name, on which to write about and document (with photographs, sound or video) their creative practice.
  • Learning Materials or Lecture Notes (what should I call it?!). This section is as described, with learning material from Interactive Arts and MMU lecturers, as well as any others where its applicable.
  • Editorial or Opinions. Here anyone can post their views, opinions or reviews of each others work or any other work they wish to comment on.
  • Ex-Students. An archive of ex-Interactive Arts students and their practice and work. Obviously this will grow as current students become ex-students; hopefully some former students can be contacted and asked to contribute to this.
  • News & Events Listing. Hopefully this will become an online version of the content of “morning meetings”; information about events, shows, competitions and general information.
  • Collaboration & Project Listing (Advertisement!) A section of the Wiki will be dedicated to people writing about collaborative projects their working on, or requesting help or collaboration with something they’re doing. (Thinking about it, maybe this should just be part of “News & Events Listing” – if there’s only one place to look, maybe more people will look there and it will work better all round.
  • Links Archive. A free for all of “good websites to look at” – be it for inspiration, amusement, or otherwise.

Having done a little research into the Chelsea Wiki I noticed a glaring omission – a help section. Given the slightly steeper than usual learning curve a Wiki has, compared with more ‘everyday’ websites this would probably prove to be a good idea.

Very good! And interesting. I hope.

Bringing anarchy to a Wiki

A Wiki, is a website that allows its users to add, edit, delete or change its own content. WikiPedia (http://www.wikipedia.org/) is a free encyclopedia that functions in just this manner.

My friend Matthew spent some time earlier this year deliberately trying to sabotage WikiPedia. I think it came about out of boredom, and mainly focused on changing entries subtly so they included a reference to goats. For instance doctoring the page about US president George Bush so the first sentance read; George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the 43rd and current U.S. President, serving from January 20, 2001 and he is not a goat.

All of Matthew’s edits were reversed, usually within minutes, sometimes seconds and occasionally taking a little longer. So the system works. Matt (and my) IP address (the thing that uniquely identifies computers on the internet) was relatively quickly banned from making edits for a week. Apparently there are actually many people that spend incongruous amounts of time editing WikiPedia, and indeed have become addicted to it. Bizarre.

Initially I thought maybe doing the same as Matthew could constitute as a work of art somehow, but then remembered that WikiPedia is invaluable to me as a research tool and is one of the few resources that out-and-out trust what it says. This comes down to the ethos of WikiPedia editors and its rules and regulations, two of which are;

  • Neutral Point of View: All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), representing fairly and without bias all significant views that have been published by reliable sources.
  • Attribution: Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a publisher of original thought. The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is whether material is attributable to a reliable published source, not whether it is true. Wikipedia is not the place to publish your opinions, experiences, or arguments.

Much as these rules create a brilliant resource, they (purposefully) prevent people from using WikiPedia as a forum for original thought or self-promotion and it is enforced strictly. Again, I agree with this whole heatedly, but can’t help but think its not fair that all the successful artists, musicians and writers are on WikiPedia and may derive promotional value from that. Whereas anyone unknown or aspirational can’t get onto the resource, because nobody knows who they are and nothing is published elsewhere about them. Catch 22.

I created a WikiPedia page about my Dad, to see if his credentials were enough to allow his page to be left on and not deleted. So far this has worked http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_lindley has been live on WikiPedia for a few weeks now, despite containing a warning that “this article lacks information on the notability (importance) of the subject matter”. So not perfect. I could probably put something on the page that would give it some kind of importance, though I’m not entirely sure what. I should put he is father to aspirational artist Joseph, which would maybe get my foot in the door.

I came across a kind of paradox that will, potentially, allow me to achieve my desire of having my own WikiPedia entry. I guess the reason I want this is that is feels like a sign that I would have arrived as an artist, if the WikiPedia editors think that I have the required notability. How it would work, is that I systematically sabotage WikiPedia, but work to a rationale. Realistically I think it would have to involve an aspect of networking too, for instance getting multiple other people to help me as the task is too big for one. Otherwise I could write a computer program to do it. If I can get around the constant re-editing by the WikiPedia monitors, and alter something sufficiently thought-provoking or controversial, enough times and involve enough people; ultimately I could evoke so much interest that I could then get media coverage (even if it is local) or better some sort of comment from a critic. This in turn should constitute relevance and notability enough that my page on WikiPedia would be allowed.

It may seem a bit ridiculous, with that long explanation, but I really think it would work and if its done in the right way it could actually have artistic merit.