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The intelligible as a new world? Wikipedia versus the eighteenth-century encyclopédie
Abstract For some time now, certain theorists have For some time now, certain theorists have been urging us to move beyond text-based understandings of culture to consider the impact of new media on the structure and organization of knowledge. This article, however, reconsiders the usual priority given to digital media by comparing Wikipedia, the free, user-led online Encyclopedia, with Diderot and D'Alembert's eighteenth-century Encyclopédie. It begins by suggesting that the dichotomy between information system and text is not sufficient for describing the differences between the two. It then considers more closely the type of critical thinking presupposed by the Encyclopédie. It concludes by raising the question of the role of judgement in making sense of any encyclopedia in a modern world in which knowledge systems only coexist on the condition of being partially blind to one another.n of being partially blind to one another.
Added by wikilit team Yes  +
Collected data time dimension N/A  +
Conclusion Beyond their generic identity as encyclopaBeyond their generic identity as encyclopaedias and their iconic status as representations of a certain kind of ‘enlightenment’, what links these two works is their search for a systematic account of all available knowledge that nonetheless acknowledges the fact that knowledge is always growing and never stable. Moreover in both cases, the encyclopaedic format is used not simply to compile existing knowledge, but also as a way to combine the encyclopaedic criterion of ‘completeness’ with the awareness that there is no third-person perspective from which to synthesize and validate the representation of knowledge as a whole. As I will show, for both the eighteenth-century Encyclopédie and its twenty-first century descendent, the encyclopaedic structure compensates for the loss of the external observer by attempting to function, as much as possible, as a self-generating observational system" "This article began by suggesting that beyond their generic identities as encyclopaedias these two texts are also emblematic of two different conceptions of ‘enlightenment’, with the eighteenth-century text privileging self-reflection and the paradoxes of observation, and the twenty-first text relying on values of community and consensus. It then proceeded to show how the Encyclopédie compensated for the restrictions of the printed medium by transforming the encyclopaedia into a thinking machine, a machine that emphasized not just the separation of the observer from the observed but also the extent to which, as Luhmann puts it, all ‘construction remains deconstructible by other observers’. 30 Wikipedia, in contrast, and even as it embraces the open-ended potential of user-generated content, relies on speed to create the illusion that the individual mind and the system of knowledge can be synchronized in perfect harmony and that, consequently, human fallibility can be overcome.uently, human fallibility can be overcome.
Data source N/A  +
Doi 10.3366/para.2011.0003 +
Google scholar url  +
Has author Sanja Perovic +
Has domain Philosophy and ethics + , Information science +
Has topic Encyclopedias +
Month March  +
Pages 12-29  +
Peer reviewed Yes  +
Publication type Journal article  +
Published in Paragraph +
Research design Conceptual  +
Research questions The question thus becomes whether it is poThe question thus becomes whether it is possible to distinguish between a text-based organization of knowledge and digital media in a straightforward manner" "In what follows I compare these two exemplary encyclopaedic works—the eighteenth-century Encyclopédie and the twenty-first century Wikipedia—in order to assess how communication systems change our conception of knowledge.ystems change our conception of knowledge.
Revid 10,980  +
Theories N/A
Theory type Analysis  +
Title The intelligible as a new world? Wikipedia versus the eighteenth-century encyclopédie
Unit of analysis Website  +
Url  +
Volume 34  +
Wikipedia coverage Case  +
Wikipedia data extraction N/A  +
Wikipedia language N/A  +
Wikipedia page type N/A  +
Year 2011  +
Creation dateThis property is a special property in this wiki. 1 August 2013 18:01:12  +
Categories Encyclopedias  + , Philosophy and ethics  + , Information science  + , Publications with missing comments  + , Publications  +
Modification dateThis property is a special property in this wiki. 30 January 2014 20:31:47  +
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