SHORT TITLE: Blackbox wikipediology paradox
Paradox of Blackbox Wikipediology as not possibly Philosophy
Wiki Journal at Academia Wikia, 2007
In the mid-1990s, there was a hypertext card project done in the Mathematics and Computer Science Department at the University of San Diego. This was not ground-breaking theoretical research, but an attempt to make a linked card stack for a Parents' Day presentation one semester. The point of the exercise was that the students in the theory-oriented Computer Science major were allowed to experiment with something rather new and apparently useful, a concept of static-link cards that would one day develop into an on-line globally-networked system of dynamic editable pages that the virtual world calls the Wikipedia.
In understanding the Wikipedia, the virtual world in which it exists must be understood as its context because the Wikipedia is a part of that virtual world, or there is a risk in taking the Wikipedia out of context in any critical examination of it as a dynamic living system, a fusion of the Internet and the users of the Internet in the distributed application of the World Wide Web.
The World Wide Web on the Internet was and is an extension of the old ARPANET, the early network of backbone servers that connected the campuses of major American research institutions and government facilities during the Cold War and continues to the present. The advent of the home computer during the last two decades of the twentieth century, combined with existing infrastructure of local and long-distance telephone systems, allowed for the expansion of ARPANET's successor, the Internet, into the homes of a significant number of Americans on-line, and international access to the Internet led to a standardization of global uniform resource locators (URLs) for an address protocol constituting the World Wide Web.
There is a sociological significance to the growth of ARPANET into the World Wide Web. This growth allowed for a change in culture, from the academic thrust of defense-oriented research and all of the culture and humor of that academic thrusting, to a more diverse culture with an increasing appetite for commercial websites. The Internet is far more commercialized than ARPANET, far more graphically oriented than ARPANET, and all the greater security risk for that change in culture and sheer size in numbers. It is in this distributed computer network, a massive system of diverse home computer systems and backbone server farms that link consumers and businesses across continents, that the Wikipedia exists.
There is a view of the Wikipedia that either ignores the users of the Wikipedia or considers those users as black boxes. In this view, users are either reduced to a random number or merely disregarded for any possible relation to the physical mass storage devices upon which the Wikipedia is encoded as saved page edits. If this view were adopted, then the sociological context is lost, and the divergence of views of users as random inputs as opposed to seeing users as actual individual people necessarily involves a loss of resolution and focus in seeing the Wikipedia both for what it is and in its proper context. A philosophical theory of Wikipediology is not wise when it so ignores the users, and therein lies the paradox: a philosophical theory of Wikipediology that ignores the user is not wisdom-tropic, and to be not wisdom-tropic is to be not the love of wisdom, so it cannot be philosophy.
Wisdom dictates that a general theory of Wikipediology consider both the computer networks and human users that are the Wikipedia as a living system in its proper contextual basis for analytical perception. The general theory accounts for anomalies and other deviations from norms in multiple dimensions or its utility as a theory suffers until it can be replaced by ingenuity with something better.
User:JCGonzales, submitted under GFDL as incorporated by reference
PDF format archive file at Wikipediology (wplogy01.htm) (see PDF link on bottom of wplogy01.htm; page refresh may be required on PDF view)