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Archive for Październik 2011

The problem is that there aren’t. Early adopters of Wikipedia were, by-and-large, nerds. Utter nerds. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I mean that in a “it was 2001 and they were on the Internet” way. Longhairs from the 1960s and 1970s counterculture movement (cf. Fred Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture, recommended), early computer and Internet proponents, FOSS addicts, codejunkies, we had them all. Early adopters were people who saw a nascent project – or later on, an established project that everyone with any academic or political value ripped the hell out of – as something it was worth contributing to, for free. Early adopters were happy to use a pseudo-HTML markup scheme to contribute and delve deep into the raw guts of an article or talkpage to make their views or facts known.

What we’re dealing with now in terms of potential volunteers is largely different. People bandy around the term “Facebook generation”, but it’s true; we’re dealing with a completely distinct group of people. 2011 users are likely to be people who have grown up with the Internet and with Wikipedia. If you’re at university now, Wikipedia will have been around since you entered secondary education, and possibly before that. It is no longer new and exciting, it is no longer a step into the unknown, and so the motivations of people who do try to contribute are likely to be pretty damn different. Moreover, the people we’re dealing with don’t want to have to deal with markup, or raw pagetext in this fashion; they aren’t used to looking under the hood. If they’re WordPress users they live in a world in which looking under the hood is not mandatory; if they’re Facebook users they live in a world in which looking under the hood isn’t even possible.

 

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