A page from David Horvitz's A Wikipedia Reader,2009
“Very few people are being promoted into the humble, hard-working positions which make Wikipedia work.”
- Robinson Meyer via The Atlantic
Earlier this month Wikipedia held its annual summit in Washington, DC. Afterwards, The Atlantic summarized the event in an article outlining how Wikipedia is slowly running out of admins to edit the site’s content. A trend is emerging. Fewer people are applying, and the current editors are slowly leaving. The long-term future has a flicker of uncertainty. To spark some discussion, I surveyed four artists and writers about the decline. We can all speculate what effects a decline in editor participation will have on Wikipedia as a global knowledge-base, but what are the implications for artists who use it as a tool for research and making work?
A healthy creative practice in the 21st century demands a baseline level of unencumbered access not just to information but to a broad range of cultural practices in general. While some of the most successful artists of the digital age are, as Mark Amerika has put it, 'remixologists' of information and culture, such a practice isn't sustainable without grassroots archives to draw from such as Wikipedia. For my own work, Wikipedia has long been a crucial entryway to information on the history of computing and digital art - Wikipedia pages on these topics are remarkably detailed and informative in ways often unmatched by books or print-based articles. I fear that the potential decline of Wikipedia would not only severely impact creative-critical practices but it also indicates more broadly that while we have made tremendous strides in opening access to information, we do not yet have any strategies in place for a long-term curatorial practice of maintaining and preserving this access ...