Essjay's ethos: rethinking textual origins and intellectual property

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Essjay's ethos: rethinking textual origins and intellectual property
Authors: James J. Brown [edit item]
Citation: College Composition and Communication 61 : . 2009.
Publication type: Journal article
Peer-reviewed: Yes
DOI: Define doi.
Google Scholar cites: Citations
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Essjay's ethos: rethinking textual origins and intellectual property is a publication by James J. Brown.

[edit] Abstract

Discussions of intellectual property are often the focus of rhetoric and composition research, and the question of textual origins grounds these discussions. Through an examination of Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia anyone can edit, this essay addresses disciplinary concerns about textual origins and intellectual property through a discussion of situated and constructed ethos.

[edit] Research questions

"Howard’s approach provides a starting point for my analysis as I attempt to drill down from a discussion of intellectual property to the issue of textual origins. I do this to address the question that grounds composition’s discussions about intellectual property. While a new media environment that allows texts to be easily combined and/ or redistributed has not created this question of determining textual origins, it has provided a continual reminder of the impossibility of cleanly linking a text with its origin."

Research details

Topics: Ethics, Contributor perceptions of credibility [edit item]
Domains: Philosophy and ethics, Law [edit item]
Theory type: Analysis [edit item]
Wikipedia coverage: Main topic [edit item]
Theories: "While Searle seeks a speech-act

theory that rigorously delineates context and tends to focus on the intentions of the speaker/writer, Derrida questions the stability of author, audience, text, and context. And this is what leads him to question Searle’s assertion of copyright. For Derrida, Searle’s handwritten copyright mark implicitly grants that the origin of a sign is always up for grabs. Searle’s copyright mark (or, we might argue, any claim to copyright) is a rearguard reaction to such citationality. Derrida’s theory of citationality allows us to rethink how we link a text with an origin. Attaching a name or identity to any utterance (written or spoken) is only a provisional, after-the-fact gesture that attempts to manage the complexities of linguistic origins." [edit item]

Research design: Case study [edit item]
Data source: Wikipedia pages [edit item]
Collected data time dimension: Longitudinal [edit item]
Unit of analysis: User [edit item]
Wikipedia data extraction: Live Wikipedia [edit item]
Wikipedia page type: User:talk, Policy, Discussion and Q&A [edit item]
Wikipedia language: Not specified [edit item]

[edit] Conclusion

"Wikipedia opens the door for editors like Essjay who claim to be something they are not. Requiring experts to provide RL identities is one way of addressing this problem, but Wikipedia offers a different solution by grounding knowledge in the ever-shifting terrain of citation rather than in the expert Wikipedian. Far from being a mere “online” phenomenon, Wikipedia gestures toward an emerging rhetoric that offers us ways to rethink the intersections of ethos, identity, intellectual property, and textual origins. Discussions about Essjay often come back to ethics: Is it not wrong to claim something that you are not? Further, is the ability for Wikipedians to remain anonymous an ethical policy? However, we might turn these questions around: What are the ethics of claiming to be the origin of a text? And how ethical is it to point to credentials as a way of stopping discussion? It is crucial for rhetoricians to study online spaces and consider these ethical and rhetorical questions. The insights we gather from spaces like Wikipedia can offer some clues as to how the field of rhetoric and composition might refine its theories and practices."

[edit] Comments

Further notes[edit]