Drafting knowledge

Nick Carr weighs in on the battle between Wikipedian "delitionists," who rank knowledge, and "inclusionists," who don't.

At a deeper level, the split between the deletionists and theinclusionists is yet another example of the fundamental epistemological crisis of our time: the battle between absolutists and relativists. The deletionists are absolutists. They believe that some subjects are simply more significant than others, that absolute distinctions can and should be drawn among different kinds of knowledge. John Milton is more important than George Jetson. The inclusionists are relativists. No subject is inherently more significant than any other, they believe...

At stake, in Carr's view, is whether Wikipedia will go forward as a wiki or an encyclopedia. He does not believe that Wikipedia can be both.

Reason also gets into the act, linking to this Wall Street Journal exchange between Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's founder, and Encyclopedia Britannica editor-in-chief Dale Hoiberg. This WSJ exchange on the role of process captures the tenor of the discussion nicely.

Wales:

Britannica doesn't display its rough drafts, or the articles before being checked by a copy editor; Wikipedia does. We think this sort of open transparency is healthy and results in greater quality than doing everything behind closed doors.

Hoiberg:

No, we don't publish rough drafts.

More later.

Wayne