Beyond Virtual and Real

So it is raining in Munich, day before the big bloggers’ meeting.  My feelings are mixed. What I thought would be a relatively confidential conference turns out to be an event with over hundred participants – all likely to be listening to the talks and blogging and twitting at the same time; this will be one of the loudest silences ever. On the other hand, I am granting myself a break from a daily work that has gone beyond humanity, so I should really be, mainly, enjoying this. And I am, too. To begin with, I had a Sencha Tea with Christof Schöch this afternoon, and we discussed (among other things) our upcoming common paper at the biography conference in Wuppertal in the fall.

Subject of the conference are “Legitimation mechanisms in biography. Contexts, actors, techniques, limits”. When I saw the call for paper, I thought it would be a good occasion for Christof and me to take our discussion on wikipedia to the next level. What we proposed to do is a complex analysis of legitimation mechanisms in wikipedia biographies and how they compare to traditional biographies in terms of authority. In order to make this, as my husband would put it, “abstract nonsense” somehow digestible, we decided to give concrete examples of wikipedia biographies we wrote ourselves and their evolution. Will they be censored if we give manuscript sources instead of printed sources, for instance? I will start the first experiments next week. Since I had to deal with 200 persons to index in the 21 letters I encoded so far (yes, 21 is not much, and yes, 200 is a lot), I have a lot of candidates to experiment on: French, German, female, male, well known, not known at all, with strange names you can’t forget, with stupid names that mean something (winter, garlic, whatever…) so that googling them won’t bring you anywhere,… this should be fun!


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