Wikipedia & the Arts

For a 2007 conference at the Academy of Fine Art in Krakow, I wrote a paper on the representation of the arts in Wikipedia. I had just a couple of months of experience of the workings of WP, but the next years basically confirmed my theses (and finally killed my interest in participating). My impression is the following: Art as a field of knowledge is restricted to a quite small group of experts, who either lack the time or the interest to share their expertise in producing WP articles, as this would be a rather merit-less exercise; besides, WP articles can’t be based on original research, which makes writing there even less interesting for academics. This makes WP a playground for people with to much time on their hands and a specific agenda, like: Popularizing their own art, or at least attempting this, as having an “own” WP article does not guarantee that anyone will read it. Ever. Still, this leads to the phenomenon that at least the German WP lacks articles on dozens of prominent artists, while it is full of articles on artists outside the contemporary “canon”, whose articles are fervently defended by WP enthusiasts who – without any knowledge of the art system – think that an exhibition in a hotel and a review in a local paper make a “famous artist”.

The papers were published one year later in book form; there is also a downloadable PDF on the ASP’s website.

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