The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post: The Truth According to Wikipedia
by Claire Gordon

…A couple years ago, two artist activists, Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern, decided to prod at these quirks through a piece of collaborative art, in the form of a Wikipedia page.

In order for Wikipedia Art to qualify as a Wikipedia entry to begin with, it had to be discussed on some of the sources Wikipedia considers citation worthy. So Wikipedia Art was blogged about. The artists were interviewed. And then, on Valentine’s Day 2009, Kildall and Stern launched the Wikipedia Art page, citing the blogs that had mused on it and the interviews they gave, and inviting edits. In doing so, Kidall and Stern made Wikipedia Art exist.

Wikipedia Art is what J.L. Austin called a “performative utterance” — an expression that is also an action, like saying “I do” at your wedding or a declaration of war. The words transform reality, bringing a thing into existence by saying it.

Kildall and Stern’s “collaborative performance” and “public intervention” was a feedback loop, existing only through its documentation, and so called to attention the cracks and short-circuits in Wikipedia’s totalizing claims to knowledge.

Within 16 hours the page was deleted. A month later the Wikipedia Foundation sued the artists, who had established to archive their project, for trademark infringement.

With their project, Kildall and Stern proved the vulnerability of Wikipedia to the comic or malicious machinations of vandals or fools. But more dangerously, the artists showed how Wikipedia is in the business of truth-making, influencing the reality it tries to record….

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