Matt Vetter (faculty, English Composition and Applied Linguistics) has published a chapter in Wikipedia @ Twenty: Stories of an Incomplete Revolution (MIT Press).

"Possible Enlightenments: Wikipedia's Encyclopedic Promise and Epistemological Failure" grapples with the encyclopedia's ambition to create a freely available archive of global knowledge while conserving features of the genre that characterize its emergence from western Enlightenment logic.

Wikipedia challenges traditional notions of expertise, authorship, access, and transparency, among other constructs. At the same time, it conserves features of the genre that characterize its emergence from western Enlightenment logicespecially practices and policies related to verifiability and reliability that are rooted in print-centric notions of knowledge curation.

Now that the encyclopedia is essentially a young adult, how should we understand Wikipedia as a project that promises possible enlightenment? How should we understand Wikipedia as an encyclopedia that falters to fully represent global and multicultural diversity? Can we understand both of these possibilities simultaneously? The chapter ultimately argues that the reconciliation of these competing claims becomes possible by calling attention to Wikipedia's transparent and dynamic properties. Such properties can help us understand the encyclopedia as an epistemology that is constantly in process, one that is always evolving and striving toward a universal circle of knowledge.

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, has praised the collection, writing: "This excellent collection of insights about Wikipedia's two decades includes the hard-won wisdom of its contributors, the novel reflections of scholars, and the necessary provocations of those working to shape its next 20 years."

The book, edited by Joseph Reagle and Jackie Koerner, is available from MIT Press, and is online in draft form.

Department of English