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Tuesday, 7 September, 2004
Content Propagation ii

I wanted to take a second shot at the previous post. I didn't get very far into a defense of Wikipedi. I decided to think it through a bit more, look at an journal article I thought I had photo-copied and saved somewhere, and try it again with actual gathered thoughts. Checking with Robert, confirms that path of information into and through various mediums is traced in appreciable detail and timed seperately for different academic groupings. This is covered in a standard reference class in library school. I want to add here that Robert has cited iMdb as a source to establish names in the Library of Congress Authority File

A librarian fielding a question and reccomending sources of information would attempt to assess the purpose of a users question, the scope of the information needed (to answer the question), the time period of inquiry (in terms of current, recent, beyond recent). A large part of this is especially the first clarification is determining whether a fact or series of facts in wanted, or analysis. There are cultural artifacts which possess particular elements - a date of comming into being, an author or creator, a name. These are Facts. There are opinions about these artifacts and facts. The Red Sox lost the last game of the 1986 World Series. This was in the papers the next day, in almanacs and encyclopedia, by Christmas. Much of what we now regard as globalism is a direct result of a conference held in 1944 in Bretton Woods NH. The conference might have been mentioned in Newspapers at the time, maybe even the phrase International Monetary Fund, but as an object of analysis it's more likely to turn up in books today. Along with a clarifiaction of the question a division of documents - information - into primary, secondary, and tertiary sources is considered. News accounts, diaries, government documents; journal articles, books; dictionarys, encyclopedias, annuals etc. account for those catagories.

All to the good, but when I look at Wikipedia along with the significant advantage in internet communicaton of it's content being copyleft information, I look at the immediacy and breadth of the information, stemming directly from its collaborative, open source peer contributive model. Most information sources have to wait for a cultural phenomenon or event to be turned into information, this is often a function of mainstream elements of society. Mainstream culture becomes commodified into information in a orderly and well understood manner. Popular culture as well, but because there is so much of it not in a comprehensive or predictable way, much less so for fringe, underground, non-conforming culture, or dissenting opinion. Even years afterward understanding of such things is marked by a period of mainstream recognition of it. Punk rock is an example of this: there was nothing really different about what ocurred in London in 1977 that was not going on in New York since 1974. Essentially only Malcolm McClaren.

I knew a guy, Bernie Grindle, (original bass player for Velocity Girl by the way), who was taking a film class that studied movies from the forties; because they were thought to be primary documents and un-self-aware. Popular culture is often thought to be transparent and uncomplicated as opposed to elite or mainstream culture. The article I remembered and wanted to look at was by William Studwell: Where is the mainstream culture of the late twentieth century?... (Music Reference Services Quarterly. 4 n. 1 : 1995.) [if i can find full text of this i will add a link, but its pub. by Haworth so i doubt it]. He notes simply that is seemed by the end of the twentieth century what had been popular culture - even fringe culture had joined with what had been mainstream culture, parts of mid-century mainstream culture were looking a little highbrow. and rather than leave a vacuum at the level of popular culture a barbaric entity called rock seemed to have taken its place. Call this the Eric Clapton effect. No matter how many times Cream played the Filmore in the 60's. Eric (is he sir eric yet?) will eventually find himself surrounded by people in tuxedos playing "Wonderful tonite". Looking at this I would not want to maintain a distinction of cultures on complexity. There would be too much 'splainin' to do.

So much occurs that either generates no cash flow, or a low margin cash flow that it can be essentially invisible to a cultures documented concious for years or forever. If, it generates any kind of enthusiam, or loyalty a project like Wikipedia will capture and share it. That is the essential justification of Wiki'ness.
11:20:25 PM    comment [];trackback [];

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2004 Paul Bushmiller.
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Prolegemma to any future FAQ.

Who are you again?
paul bushmiller
what is it exactly that you do?
at the least, this.
What is this?
it's a weblog.
How long have you been doing it?
3 or 4 years. I used to run it by hand; Radio Userland is more convenient.
Ever been overseas?
Know any foreign languages?
Favorite song?
victoria - the kinks
favorite book?
any book I can read in a clean well lighted place
Is this one of those websites with lots of contentious, dogmatic and brittle opinions?
What do you expect to accomplish with this?