Testi su IT e scienze

Pubblico, privato e commons

Inserito da iopensa il Sab, 2013-09-28 12:15

Il privato appartiene ai privati, il pubblico appartiene al pubblico e i commons – i beni comuni – appartengono alla collettività. Non ha senso. Che i commons siano una terza via è un errore di sistema che la storiografia sull’argomento sta cominciando a mostrarci sempre più chiaramente.
Il privato appartiene ai privati e il pubblico appartiene alla collettività. Se questo non succede, se il pubblico non rappresenta una collettività, significa che siano di fronte ad un regime, ad un potere coloniale o neo-coloniale, a qualcosa di nuovo e transnazionale, oppure semplicemente siamo di fronte ad un errore di sistema.
L’Italia è una democrazia. Il pubblico deve appartenere alla collettività. Il modo che abbiamo scelto affinché la collettività sia rappresentata è attraverso una democrazia indiretta. Questo significa che i nostri rappresentanti sono eletti e ci rappresentano in parlamento. La sensazione che il pubblico appartenga a qualcosa che non è “noi” è un sbagliato. Significa che la nostra democrazia ha raggiunto un tale livello di distorsione che ne mette in dubbio la sua stessa legittimità. La soluzione non è una terza via, non sono i commons. La soluzione è che il pubblico rappresenti la collettività e che ciò che appartiene al pubblico siano beni comuni, commons.

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Maestà, torneremo con l'oro

Inserito da iopensa il Dom, 2013-06-23 07:36

Per vendere le comunità online si parla di ricchezza, comunità decentralizzate e autogestite che producono senza nemmeno bisogno di chiederglielo, generoso contributo volontario al servizio dell’umanità. Così come Cristoforo Colombo faceva la questua tra le corti d’Europa per farsi finanziare la spedizione, così oggi ricercatori e studiosi legittimano la necessità delle loro esplorazioni tra le comunità online promettendo oro e tesori dal nuovo mondo. Non è che storicamente le cose sono poi andate molto bene.


Inserito da iopensa il Ven, 2012-12-14 11:35

WikiAfrica ha raggiunto il suo obiettivo: contribuire a Wikipedia con 30,000 immagini e testi entro il 2012.

The power of Wikipedia: Legitimacy and territorial control for the PMS Reader

Inserito da iopensa il Gio, 2012-12-06 14:33

Original version of the article The Power of Wikipedia: Legitimacy and Control in “PMS Reader Power Money Sex”, Chimurenga and Open Society Institute of Southern Africa, 2012. Article published.

The widest and most astonishing contemporary global source of information has the power of a new nation, but it acts as an old one. Skip to session 5 if you just want get the point.

1. Wikipedia

Do you know Wikipedia? It is quite easy to cross Wikipedia by searching the Internet. With almost 500 million readers in over 280 linguistic editions, Wikipedia is our universal textbook. Many people read it, but not as many know how it works. Wikipedia is a collaborative encyclopedia, written by volunteers and which anyone can edit.

Actually Wikipedia is an inexplicable product of our century and a very interesting subject for studies. To make it extremely short, research has been focusing on exploring Wikipedia history, contents and structure, but very little has been said about its geopolitical power.

2. Where we are

For more than half a century, many intellectuals have been working to screw-up a knowledge system which is unable to represent the world we live in. Thanks to them, we have now words we can not ignore: connections, borders, contact zones, perspectives, identity, otherness, eurocentrism, intercultural, multicultural, network, porosity, post-colonialism, globalization, power. It is essential at least to thank some of the people who have showed us a different way of seeing and studying the world, people such as Michel Foucault, Edward Said, Frantz Fanon, V.Y Mudimbe, Homi K. Bhabha, Arjun Appadurai, Achille Mbembe, Jean-Loup Amselle, Bruno Latour, Marc Augé, Saskia Sassen, James Clifford. But also many artists have contributing with their artworks to theory.

We need to rewrite history. This is probably the most violent summery of our time, regularly invoked by the artist Rasheed Araeen, who leads us a major question: how to rewrite history? We are not talking about revisionism, but about the true necessity of a collaborative effort in representing the world we live in, to contextualize information, to analyze it through an historiographical approach and to document the different and major points of view.

3. Wikipedia as a knowledge system

Even if the very concept of an encyclopedia can be questioned as a XVIII century European child, the idea of free encyclopedia that anyone can edit is inclusive and dynamic. The 5 pillars – the fundamental principals beyond Wikipedia – emphasize its role as a reference, the respect for sources and for the community, and the acknowledgement that mistakes are part of the process. Words associated to Wikipedia (free culture, open collaboration, networked social production, open source production, peer-production, crowdsourcing, wikinomics) emphasize it as an active, open and inclusive space. Wikipedia is not only a collaborative production space for knowledge, but it is also the contemporary platform where it is possible to make this new knowledge fully accessible and mainstream.

4. Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge

Wikipedia is a complex archipelago, but what is striking is that the most innovative encyclopedia is in reality incredibly traditional.
Mark Graham with the Oxford Institute, and authors such as Heather Ford, Maja van der Velden and Achal Prabhala have already highlighted the limits of its system. The way Wikipedia contents portrait the world reproduces the way the world believes to know itself. Also on Wikipedia Africa is empty and dark. Slowly even the community is realizing how contents are filtered in a way which considers a good portion of human knowledge spam. What it is still missing though are studies on Wikipedia nationalism.

5. Wikipedia nationalism

On one side Wikipedia foster nationalism; on the anther side the growing power of Wikipedia is transforming it into a new nation. Languages, monuments, education and territorial control are tools for nation building and looking at them from a Wikipedia perspective allows us to focus on some of its macro dynamics.

1) Language is a central aspect of nation building and it is an essential space for the definition, affirmation and construction of borders and identities. The emphasis Wikipedia puts on developing Wikipedia editions in local languages underestimates the meaning and the implications of this process. Wikipedia considers linguistic editions as an essential tool to provide easier and full access to knowledge, and to preserve languages. But languages are also a political and ideological tool. They are used to strengthen independent movements and to nourish ethnic conflicts. For instance, supporting Wikipedia in Wolof is not a bad thing, but it is necessary to also be aware of its ethnic, social and political repercussions.

2) The identification of monuments, heritage and landmarks is another important dynamic of nation and history building, which Wikipedia is reinforcing in particular in the last few years with the project Wiki Loves Monuments. Nations build, promote and invent the symbols of their history and power. A the same time they destroy, select and reinterpret the symbols of former powers to make room for their sovereignty. The very concept of heritage is not innocent; heritage is something which belongs to those “who were already here” and not to those “who just arrived”.

3) Schoolbooks have a determinant role in educating nations and creating a common history. Wikipedia is our today world schoolbook and it has a major responsibility in directing knowledge. The growing distribution of offline editions of Wikipedia in particular in the so-called global south it is also something to be aware of, since it completely reinterprets the very concept of a free encyclopedia anyone can edit.

4) Wikipedia is structured online into a foundation and a series of chapters, which have the role of supporting and aggregating Wikipedia community at a national scale. The fact that Wikimedia Foundation is based in the US and it is regularly accused to impose a US-centric cultural model. Wikipedia in English is the largest Wikipedia version and it is permanently distancing all other linguistic editions.. Wikimedia chapters claim their role in providing a more balanced cultural approach and in managing decentralized outreached programs. In realty Wikimedia chapters foster nationalisms. The growing number of institutions willing to contribute to Wikipedia – also in countries without Wikimedia Chapters – is making issues of legitimacy and territorial control becoming even more evident. Institutions can not edit Wikipedia as institutions, and they usually ask for someone who can present and represent Wikipedia; for this reason they are managed on a territorial basis and Wikimedia chapters have a major role in facilitating those collaborations. Through those new collaborations Wikimedia chapters are gaining a specific national role and they are reinforcing their legitimacy in representing Wikipedia both outside and inside their organization.

6. Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge

To conclude, Wikipedia offers a new and important frame to build and negotiate knowledge and history. Thanks to its pillars, it is space to contextualize knowledge, to provide background information, to create links, to add multiple categories, to follow an historiographic approach, to acknowledge different critical discourses and to correct mistakes. Considering its power, it is not possible to ignore or avoid Wikipedia. But to truly take advantage of its active, open and inclusive utopia, it is necessary to be aware of its nationalisms and its geopolitical power.

Rewrite History: Wikipedia as a tool to produce a collaborative history and historiography, Conferenza di Studi Africani, 2012

Inserito da iopensa il Mer, 2012-09-19 10:21

Presentation at the Conferenza di Studi Africani, Università di Pavia, Facoltà di Scienze Politiche, 19/09/2012.

Wikipedia as a Space and Strategy for Negotiating Art and Cultural Knowledge in African Cities

Inserito da iopensa il Ven, 2012-06-01 23:15

Wikipedia as a Space and Strategy for Negotiating Art and Cultural Knowledge in African Cities alla conferenza Embattled Spaces – Contested Orders di VAD-Vereinigung für Afrikawissenschaften in Deutschland 2012 all’interno del panel 32 (New) spaces and strategies for negotiating art and cultural knowledge in African cities curato da Kerstin Pinther e Larissa Förster.

In African cities individual artists, artist collectives and independent cultural institutions have distanced themselves from state-initiated cultural politics, they truly offer alternative platforms for the production, representation and reflection of cultural knowledge and they have gained recognition among a growing international network. But did they achieve to negotiate hegemonic national representations and Western Art History (Rasheed Araeen)?
This paper presents the experiences of three cultural institutions (doual’art based in Douala, Kër Thiossane based in Dakar and Chimurenga based more or less in Cape Town) to show how major cultural institutions based in African cities working with high quality projects and wide networks surely question hegemonic national representations and Western Art History (Achille Mbembe) but they still struggle to posit themselves at a urban, national, continental and international level.
The paper questions the borders of African cities and it presents Wikipedia as a different and powerful space and strategy for negotiating art and cultural knowledge. With over 280 languages, 20 million articles, 100.000 active editors and over 365 million readers, Wikipedia is much more than a website (Andrew Lih): it is today everybody’s textbook. Structured in tribes and dominated by new gatekeepers (Mathieu O’Neil), Wikipedia has the power of a new nation and it determines what knowledge is. It aspires to produce a collaboratively built free knowledge capable of presenting all points of view in a neutral way: for this very reason it is the right space for negotiating hegemonic national representations, Western Art History, art and cultural knowledge and for acknowledging the role of individual artists, artist collectives and independent cultural institutions based in African cities and their work as first sources.

Wikipedia, copyright, copyleft, Creative Commons, knowledge, collaborative knowledge, mainstream knowledge, rewrite history, cultural institutions, African cities, doual’art, Chimurenga, Kër Thiossane, Douala, Dakar, Cape Town, interfaces, Western Art History, Art History, GLAM.

Where People are Knowledge in Chimurenga Chronicle

Inserito da iopensa il Gio, 2011-10-06 14:48

Original version of the article Where People are Knowledge in Chimurenga Chronicle 18-24 May 2008, Another Section* Media & Technology/People are Knowledge, October 2011 (predated 18-24 May 2008), p. 11. Reading list.

Where People are Knowledge. After the Wikipedia Academy organized in Johannesburg in October 2007, intellectuals and authors are now questioning the relationship between Wikipedia and Africa.

What can an online collaborative encyclopedia offer Africa and what can Africa provide? In 2005 architect Mamadou Jean Charles Tall proposed a presentation at Wikimania in Frankfurt titled WIKI Africa and he wrote colleagues and friends “I believe [Wikipedia] is a good opportunity to create contents available to anyone and that we can edit by ourselves. I trust each of us is concerned with the creation of contents belonging to Africa” (C’est à mon sens une bonne opportunité de créer un contenu qui soit disponible et qui soit éditable par nous mêmes. Je crois que la création de contenus propres à l’Afrique est dans les préoccupations de tous). Last October the founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales preached in Johannesburg the African participation to the biggest no profit volunteer-based ever existing project on open knowledge and he was welcomed with great enthusiasm. Internet evangelists foresaw a glorious future with an online rainbow of encyclopedias written in all existing and extinct African languages and predicted millions of former copyright pirates transformed into committed panafrican editors fighting for open data and copyleft. Six months later problems got the upper hand.

Some say a fight started between the committed panafrican editor and the dominant thirty-year-old western white male with a scientific training editor. Articles on African knowledge were delated on Wikipedia because unnotable. Unsourced content was delated because unsourced; sourced content was delated because unnotably sourced. Everybody knew since the beginning that to access and contribute to Wikipedia either you need a computer with a stable Internet connection or some sort of cheap futuristic portable device, but very few foresaw that sources would emerge as the major battlefield.

On Wikipedia no original research can be used. To explain it very simply you can’t write on Wikipedia that in Senegal there are lots of baobab even if you are in Senegal and you see lots of baobabs; you need to find a book where it is written it (or you need to publish a book on it), and then you can write it on Wikipedia by carefully avoiding plagiarism and by adding a footnote with the proper bibliography and page number. Published paper books with an online digital version are the preferred source on the online encyclopedia, followed by articles published on major New York City and London based newspapers.

To go back to the baobab, this means that in Senegal with lots of baobabs, with a computer, a stable internet connection and the necessary skills to edit Wikipedia, you still need to find the fucking book. Until you write about baobabs, you can trust a book on the subject exists at least for touristic reasons, but things get more complicated when you approach other subjects. You need to find the written source, but you also need that it exists. Furthermore if the source you cite is not available online and if the publisher is not well known, the problem that may arise is that someone on Wikipedia can question the real existence of what you are citing.

Achal Prabhala – editor of the magazine Civil Lines, copyleft activist and member of the Wikimedia Foundation advisory board – is advocating the opportunity of accepting oral citations on Wikipedia. Books are based on interviews; by collecting, recording and uploading them – according to Achal Prabhala – those sources could greatly contribute to develop encyclopedic knowledge in the “Global South” (rumors say that this expression carried away Wikimedia Foundation, even though it divides the world and mankind into two and an article published on the magazine Nature states that in June 2005 its mentioning caused the death of 14 kittens in Bogota). A research and a video production on oral citation with the institutional and economic support of Wikimedia Foundation would be an essential step to lobby for a new definition of sources and notability on Wikipedia. Another important strategy to facilitate the relationship between Wikipedia and Africa could be the production of a critical mass of African contents produced with the commitment of cultural institutions. Unfortunately this is not the best timing, since Wikipedia Foundation is under one of the most turbulent period of its existence with the nomination of its first executive director and the current crisis of its board of trustees. The energy raised by the Johannesburg Wikimedia Academy will probably get lost and it will take time before an outreach program will be implemented but we are not so far from the day Wikipedia will take Nairobi, when 30.000 African contributions will be produced and people will be willing to donate millions of dollars to support an encyclopedia that anyone can modify to win a bet.