Cover image for
Title:
Wikipedia and the politics of openness / Nathaniel Tkacz.
Author:
Tkacz, Nathaniel, author.
Published:
Chicago ; London : University of Chicago Press, 2015.

©2015
Description:
x, 214 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Summary:
"Few virtues are as celebrated in contemporary culture as openness. Rooted in software culture and carrying more than a whiff of Silicon Valley technical utopianism, openness--of decision-making, data, and organizational structure--is seen as the cure for many problems in politics and business. But what does openness mean, and what would a political theory of openness look like? With Wikipedia and the Politics of Openness, Nathaniel Tkacz uses Wikipedia, the most prominent product of open organization, to analyze the theory and politics of openness in practice--and to break its spell. Through discussions of edit wars, article deletion policies, user access levels, and more, Tkacz enables us to see how the key concepts of openness--including collaboration, ad-hocracy, and the splitting of contested projects through "forking"--play out in reality. The resulting book is the richest critical analysis of openness to date, one that roots media theory in messy reality and thereby helps us move beyond the vaporware promises of digital utopians and take the first steps toward truly understanding what openness does, and does not, have to offer." -- Publisher's description
Language Note:
Text in English.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (pages 199-207) and index.
ISBN:
022619227X (cloth ; alkaline paper)

022619230X (paperback ; alkaline paper)

9780226192277 (cloth ; alkaline paper)

9780226192307 (paperback ; alkaline paper)

022619244X

9780226192444 (e-book)

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Summary

Summary

Few virtues are as celebrated in contemporary culture as openness. Rooted in software culture and carrying more than a whiff of Silicon Valley technical utopianism, openness--of decision-making, data, and organizational structure--is seen as the cure for many problems in politics and business.
 
But what does openness mean, and what would a political theory of openness look like? With Wikipedia and the Politics of Openness , Nathaniel Tkacz uses Wikipedia, the most prominent product of open organization, to analyze the theory and politics of openness in practice--and to break its spell. Through discussions of edit wars, article deletion policies, user access levels, and more, Tkacz enables us to see how the key concepts of openness--including collaboration, ad-hocracy, and the splitting of contested projects through "forking"--play out in reality.
 
The resulting book is the richest critical analysis of openness to date, one that roots media theory in messy reality and thereby helps us move beyond the vaporware promises of digital utopians and take the first steps toward truly understanding what openness does, and does not, have to offer.


Author Notes

Nathaniel Tkacz is assistant professor in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies at the University of Warwick and coeditor of Critical Point of View: A Wikipedia Reader .


Reviews 1

Choice Review

Tkacz (Univ. of Warwick, UK) unpacks the social, political, and philosophical nature of Wikipedia and its stance as "open" in terms of collaboration, participation, and ad-hocracy. By using the notions of the "frame" and statement formation in discourse analysis, the author analyzes specific case studies that have helped shape Wikipedia to expose and problematize the "closed" versus "open" practices at play by Wikipedia participants at many levels. Further, the act of "forking" is explored as a method for effecting changes in organizations like Wikipedia, along with leaders' mobilizing an ally as a "mouthpiece" versus a "spokesperson." Ultimately, Tkacz calls for a more nuanced political landscape for understanding these particular frames, which are not positioned as "open" or "closed" in terms of their policies and practices. This book could be used across many disciplines, such as communications, media studies, philosophy, linguistics, sociology, and cultural studies. Because of the broad focus and approach of this work, any supporting readings would depend on the discipline. For instance, James Gee's What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy (CH, Feb'04, 41-3564) might be used with a media studies or literacy focused course. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduate, graduate, and research collections. --Catherine Lara Lalonde, D'Youville College


Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1 Open Politics
2 Sorting Collaboration Out
3 The Governance of Forceful Statements: From Ad-Hocracy to Ex Corpore
4 Organizational Exit and the Regime of Computation
5 Controversy in Action
Conclusion: The Neoliberal Tinge
Appendix A Archival Statements from the Depictions of Muhammad Debate
Appendix B Selections from the Mediation Archives
References
Index