Rut Jesus – Niels Bohr Institute - University of Copenhagen

Rut Jesus 

Title: Cooperation and Cognition in Wikipedia Articles - A data-driven, philosophical and exploratory study

A thesis submitted July 15th, 2010 for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and defended September 4, 2010.

The PhD School of Science
Faculty of Science
Niels Bohr Institute
Center for Models of Life
University of Copenhagen

Academic Supervisor:
Claus Emmeche

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Cooperation and Cognition in Wikipedia Articles - A data-driven, philosophical and exploratory study

Wikipedia has created and harnessed new social and work dynamics, which can provide insight into specific aspects of cognition, as amplified by a multitude of editors and their ping-pong style of editing, spatial and time flexibility within unique technology-community fostering features. Wikipedia's motto "The Free Encyclopedia That Anyone Can Edit" is analyzed to reveal human, technological and value actors within a theoretical context of distributed cognition, cooperation and technological agency. In the Data-driven studies using data from Wiki log pages, network visualization and bicliques are used and developed to focus closer on the process of collaboration in articles and meta-articles, and inside the article "Prisoner's dilemma" and the policy article "Neutral Point of View". The several tools used reveal clusters of interest, dense areas of coordination, a blend between coordination and direct editing work, and point to Wikipedia's dynamic stability in content and form. In the philosophical-cognitive studies, a distinction between Cognition for Planning and Cognition for Improvising is proposed to account for Wikipedia's success and mode of editing whereby many small edits are used for its improvement. In the exploratory part an installation of a 'live-Wiki' 'Our Coll/nn/ective Minds' piece reflects on several aspects of Wikis, free culture, open source, Do-It-Yourself by engaging in the debate in a more creative and participative form. These studies contribute to constructing an ecology of the article, a vision of humanities bottom-up, and a better understanding of cooperation and cognition within sociotechnological networks.

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