Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Blot on Your Record

In today's New York Times, an article called "Has Wikipedia Created a Rorschach Cheat Sheet?" asks if the popular collectively authored online encyclopedia may be giving away the trade secrets of psychologists and psychiatrists and thus risk contaminating test results that are supposed to measure authentic impulses and unrehearsed associations. This anxiety about releasing trade secrets to the public is actually not particularly new: at the time of Diderot's encyclopedia members of guilds fretted that generations of professional knowledge and years of training in the apprenticeship system might be threatened by the publication's detailed diagrams of equipment and descriptions of specialized practices.

Labels: ,


Anonymous Rachel Lee said...

This is a silly question -- where can I find out more about these responses to Diderot? I'm interested in c18 encyclopedias in the context of print culture, communication systems, and within the tensions between narrative and database. I've only just begun research, but I haven't seem much about (c18) anxieties of revealed expertise, and I'm really interested to learn more about it. (I know Elizabeth Eisenstein mentions the role of readers and amateurs in early works of natural history and cartography, but I don't recall anything about anxious responses.)

5:10 AM  
Blogger bob c said...

Though "cheating" on an evaluation of some sort produces an inaccurate picture, the wholesale hoarding of knowledge seems to be the act of oppression. I mean a fireplace poker is what it is or is not no matter the source. In most cases it is about preserving wealth or power or control, not the quality or accuracy of the result. So I guess the purpose of the knowledge (or item) determines whether dissemination should be suppressed, or controlled, or not. One could argue that preservation of wealth, power, or control is good for some... at someone's expense of course. This debate is at the heart of copyright, patent, or IP law.

6:49 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home