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Even revolutionaries conserve

Humberto Maturana has stated “even revolutionaries conserve…All systems only exist as long as there is conservation of that which defines them”. The concept revolutionaries as conservators is reflected in many aspects of society. Sometimes it’s revealed in the establishment of structures similar to those that a movement sought to replace (i.e. Soviet Union). Sometimes it’s revealed in politics (where a revolutionary, change-promoting candidate becomes more of a traditionalist once elected). The system that we participate in will soon make us what the system is. An individual elected to public office, by virtue of participating in the political system will over time, to varying degrees, become a politician. Let’s look at another example: Wikipedia. For last five years, Wikipedia has been the darling of amateur production, the image of everything that’s right with humanity.
Wikipedia has announced changes to how it handles edits of articles of living people. From NY Times:

The new feature, called “flagged revisions,” will require that an experienced volunteer editor for Wikipedia sign off on any change made by the public before it can go live. Until the change is approved — or in Wikispeak, flagged — it will sit invisibly on Wikipedia’s servers, and visitors will be directed to the earlier version.

Wikipedia is being shaped by the field of information it is trying to disrupt. As Wikipedia continues to resemble less of what it was and more of the information validation processes currently in use in traditional resources (like Britannica), it’s simply undergoing the process of becoming the system it exists within.


  1. I can understand why they may feel the need to “sell out” like that. They want to be accepted as credible authority. However, this subverts their own security measures. Peeling a page back to the last good version works, and it allows editors time to pause and think before they submit a change again because they know that someone is watching. RIP asynchronous consensus building.

    Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 3:51 pm | Permalink
  2. GNA Garcia wrote:

    A few nights ago, I endeavored into making Gazpacho Andaluz using my new food processor. I wanted an authentic Spanish recipe so I searched google in Spanish for “receta gazpacho andaluz.” I found an excellent food blog with a simple recipe. After reading the recipe in espa~nol, I decided to verify my understanding by using the “google translator” function which appears directly next to the original url. While hovering about the English translation, a text box appeared asking if I wanted to “contribute to a better translation.” I did by editing out some redundancy in the directions. I shared this cool bit of on the fly editing with my partner and remarked upon its similarity to wikipedia. We began to dream aloud together, “How cool would it be to wikify the entire web?!” Wherein each website/page would have layers of edits, notes, comments made by its visitors, consumers, and producers? As a visitor you would have the choice how many layers, who’s comments, when changes were made, etc. you wanted to view at any given time (like all of the various layers on google maps). Most importantly, you would have the option to contribute and produce content made available immediately to other visitors. I understand the gist and grist Tio Jorge’s post and am only left wondering if wikipedia’s choice is a bigger tipping point than we might immediately recognize, and if we are desafortunadamente tipping backwards.

    Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 5:05 pm | Permalink